Thomas Jefferson Papers

VIII. The President to the Senate, [22 February 1791]

VIII. The President to the Senate

[22 February 1791]

Gentlemen of the Senate

I will proceed to take measures for the ransom of our citizens in captivity at Algiers, in conformity with your resolution of advice of the first instant, so soon as the monies necessary shall be appropriated by the legislature and shall be in readiness.

The recognition of our treaty with the new Emperor of Marocco requires also previous appropriation and provision. The importance of this last to the liberty and property of our citizens induces me to urge it on your earliest attention.

Dft (DLC); entirely in TJ’s hand; undated; the message, dated “United States, February 22d, 1791,” appears as TJ drafted it in JEP description begins Journal of the Executive Proceedings of the Senate of the United States … to the Termination of the Nineteenth Congress, Washington, D.C., 1828 description ends , i, 75. Entry in SJPL indicates that TJ drafted the message on the day the resolution of 1 Feb. 1791 was adopted, but this was probably an error.

It is to be noted that, though some funds had been allocated for the ransom of the captives from the loan of 1788, Washington declined to move without a further appropriation. TJ probably persuaded him to adopt this position, as he did later when redemption of the prisoners and a treaty with Algiers were again under consideration. TJ argued then that, regardless of the manner of getting funds, both houses should be informed in advance lest the Senate decline to ratify and the House to appropriate after the event. Washington agreed. The issue was complicated by the need for secrecy (see TJ’s memorandum, 11 Mch. 1792).

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