Alexander Hamilton Papers

To Alexander Hamilton from Edmund Randolph, 5 January 1795

From Edmund Randolph1

Department of State, January 5th 1795.


I called at your Office on Saturday, to confer with you on the subject of this letter, but I was not so fortunate as to meet you.

By the last letters from our Minister Resident at Lisbon, it seems probable, as I took the liberty of intimating to you some days ago, that he is employed in negotiating a peace and ransom with the Dey of Algiers.2 If the circumstances of Holland should according to any advices which you may have received render a failure of the Loan projected there probable,3 shall I beg the favor of you to turn your attention to some other mode, which may be executed as quickly as possible? I will co-operate if it be necessary in any plan, which you may find warranted by the Law. One thing perhaps deserves to be noted, that the species of money, required for this exigency is Piastres.

I have the honor to be, Sir, &c:

Edm: Randolph.

LC, RG 59, Domestic Letters of the Department of State, Vol. 8, December 6, 1794–October 12, 1795, National Archives.

1For background to this letter, see Thomas Jefferson to H, December 12, 1793.

2In March, 1793, David Humphreys, United States Minister Resident in Portugal, had been authorized to secure a settlement of the difficulties of the United States with the Barbary Powers. He was directed particularly to secure the release of American seamen held captive in Algiers (ASP description begins American State Papers, Documents, Legislative and Executive, of the Congress of the United States (Washington, 1832–1861). description ends , Foreign Relations, I, 293–94).

Despite considerable efforts Humphreys had not been able to carry out these instructions, but on November 10, 1794, he wrote to Randolph: “By letters received from Algiers … it appears that the Dey is now disposed to treat with us and ready to receive a Negociator for that purpose but that he expects a considerable Sum of money for the ransom of our Citizens in captivity as well as for a Peace” (ALS, RG 59, Despatches from United States Ministers to Portugal, 1790–1801, Vol. 3, January 30–November 29, 1794, National Archives).

3For information on the projected Holland loan, the proceeds of which were to be used to secure a treaty of peace with Algiers, see Henry Knox to H, April 21, 1794; George Washington to H, May 24, 29, June 7, 1794; H to Washington, May 27, June 4, 10, 1794; Randolph to H, June 24, 28, July 1, 8, 1794; H to Willink, Van Staphorst, and Hubbard, July 7, 1794; Willink, Van Staphorst, and Hubbard to H, September 26, 1794; H to John Quincy Adams, December 5, 1794.

Humphreys, however, in his letter to Randolph of November 10, 1794, wrote: “By circumstances which have come to my knowledge from other quarters, it appears but too evident that the money intended to have been raised by Loan in Holland for this negociation cannot be obtained; at least, not in season to satisfy the impatience of the Dey…. In this perplexing situation, no expedient occurred to me for calming the impatience of the Dey, gaining time & preventing the door of negociating from being altogether closed, but to embark myself immediately for the United States …” (ALS, RG 59, Despatches from United States Ministers to Portugal, 1790–1801, Vol. 3, January 30–November 29, 1794, National Archives).

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