Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Edward Church, 22 October 1793

From Edward Church

Lisbon 22d. Octr. 1793. P.M.


I wrote you this morning that I had written to his Excelly. Luiz Pinto Minister &ca. &ca. I herewith send a Copy of my Letter, and at the same time have the pleasure to inclose a most favourable, friendly, and pleasing answer from his Excellency, which I have this moment received, and which you will immediately see the necessity of communicating by expresses to all parts1 of the Union, that our Merchants may not be exposed to the heavy premium of a supposed desparate risk. I have also the pleasure to inform you from good authority, through a secret but direct channel, that a remonstrance was yesterday presented to the Prince by some of the highest and most influencial of the Nobility, wherein they state, that the late Truce has greatly dishonoured this Nation, that to ratify it would be to render the disgrace indelible, or even to accede to a Peace or Truce on the terms once offered by this nation, which were to withdraw their Ships from the Mediterranean but to pay nothing—they say it is now beneath the dignity of the Crown to accept the Offers of Peace from that nation (supposing a Peace admissible with those Piratical Infidels) upon any other terms than a full indemnification for all expences in maintaining their Naval Armament for about ten years in the Mediterranean for the protection of their Commerce against the hostilities of that nation—and declare that it would be far better, and more honourable for the Nation to maintain eternal War against them, than to consent to a peace or truce on any other terms; this is the present state of this English Portugze: Truce, which from present appearances promises no duration. It is also whispered, but not from equal authority, that orders are gone to the Portugze. fleet in the Streights not to suffer any Vessels captured by the Algerines to be carried into Algiers, if it should appear that2 they were bound to or from any Port belonging to the Dominions of Portugal. I enquired concerning the truth of this report from one who is very able, and on all possible occasions perfectly disposed to give me every information which he thinks may concern me to know. His answer was—Our fleet in the Mediterranean have no Authority that I know of, from this Court, to know or believe any thing about a peace or truce with Algiers, if they have any such information it is from a different Quarter.

I have it from good Authority, that there has been a very severe action between the French, and the whole force of Sardinia, collected and commanded by the King in person, the battle is said to have been long and bloody, but the latter were finally routed, and pursued, with very great slaughter, both on the field of Action, and in the pursuit. The King of Sardinia was on his March towards Nice near which he expected to meet the french and intended to give them battle, but the french advanced about four leagues from Nice, when the abovementioned action ensued. This Court seems to be very much alarmed at a report circulating in the Palace, that the King of Prussia proposes to withdraw his forces from the field of action, and to retire to his own dominions in peace, various causes are assigned for this extraordinary and unexpected Maneuvre—it is certain that the report has made a very considerable impression on this Court, which encourages me to hope it is not without some foundation.

There are 16 American Vessels now in this Port, I have requested them to get ready for Sea as fast as possible when the Convoy will be ordered to attend them. There are about 30 Ships from the Hanseatic Towns now here, They are ordered to be ready on the 25th. We have no orders yet. I am Sir with all due consideration & respect Yor. mo: hble & mo: obedt. Servant

Edwd. Church

RC (DNA: RG 59, CD); at foot of text: “The Secretary of State for the United States of America”;with notation by Church in part: “No. 2. … P.M.”; endorsed by TJ as received 22 Dec. 1793 and so recorded in SJL. Dupl (same); in a clerk’s hand, signed by Church; with several variations, only the most important of which are noted below; at head of text: “(Duplicate)”; contains postscript virtually identical to the one in Church’s first letter of this date; endorsed by Edmund Randolph as received 14 Jan. 1794. Tr (DNA: RG 46, Senate Records, 3d Cong., 1st sess.); lacks postscript. PrC of another Tr (DLC); consists of extract of second paragraph in TJ’s hand with his additional commentary subjoined; see TJ to Robert Gamble, 22 Dec. 1793. Enclosures: (1) Enclosure No. 6 listed at Church to TJ, 12 Oct. 1793, but with note of 20 Oct. on verso stating that on that day there arrived, both after voyages of seven weeks, the schooner Alice or Elsy of Boston from North Carolina and the brigantine Betsy of Portsmouth from Virginia, the last of which reported that thirteen ships were ready to sail at approximately the same time—eleven for Cadiz and two for Lisbon. (2) Church to Luis Pinto de Sousa Coutinho, 21 Oct. 1793, stating that, having been unable to obtain a personal interview with him on 19 Oct., he now writes to request his intercession with the Queen to obtain for American ships and citizens in Portugal the same naval protection against Algerine corsairs on the Portuguese coast that has been granted to citizens of the Hanseatic Towns; that, despite the absence of a commercial treaty between the United States and Portugal, an agreement the American government has long sought in order to strengthen the ties between the two countries, American citizens and ships deserved this favor because they came to Portugal on the assumption that the Portuguese Mediterranean fleet would continue to protect them against the Algerines and because of the importance of American trade to Portugal; that, despite the indication Pinto gave during their 12 Oct. meeting that the Algerine truce forbade the Queen to give protection to any nation at war with Algiers, this restriction had already been waived for one nation and therefore could also be dispensed with for the United States; and that he has chartered a second neutral ship to bring duplicates of his dispatches to America that will be ready to sail tomorrow and on which he hopes to send Pinto’s reply (Trs in DNA: RG 59, CD, in Church’s hand; Trs in DNA: RG 46, Senate Records, 3d Cong., 1st sess.). Other enclosure printed below. Letter and enclosures enclosed in addendum to Report on Morocco and Algiers, 14 Dec. 1793, Bartholomew Dandridge, Jr., to TJ, 23 Dec. 1793, and George Washington to the Senate and the House of Representatives, 23 Dec. 1793.

TJ submitted this letter and its enclosures to the President on 23 Dec. 1793 (Washington, Journal description begins Dorothy Twohig, ed., The Journal of the Proceedings of the President, 1793–1797, Charlottesville, 1981 description ends , 271–2). It is the last consular letter TJ received from Church. See Appendix i.

1Dupl: “all the Ports.”

2Preceding four words not in Dupl.

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