To James Madison
Monticello Aug. 9. 1802.
The inclosed letter from mr Simpson our Consul in Marocco was forwarded to me from your office by yesterday’s post. the demand of the emperor of Marocco is so palpably against reason & the usage of nations that we may consider it as a proof either that he is determined to go to war with us at all events, or that he will always make common cause with the Barbary powers when we are at war with any of them. his having ordered our Consul away is at any rate a preliminary of so much meaning, that the draught of the letter I had forwarded you for him, as well as the sending him the gun carriages, are no longer adapted to the state of things. on this subject I should be glad of your opinion, as also of what nature should be the orders now to be given to our officers in the Mediterranean.
The Boston frigate is expected to return: there will then remain in the Mediterranean the Chesapeake, Morris, the Adams, Campbell, & the Constitution Murray; one of which perhaps would have been recalled, as two are thought sufficient for the war with Tripoli, especially while Sweden cooperates. in the present state of things would it not be adviseable to let the three remain? or does it seem necessary to send another?
I inclose you a letter from Richard Law dated New London. I suppose he may be the District judge & should be answered.1 the proper notification of the Commrs. of bankruptcy to the judges seems to be2 their commission exhibited by themselves to the court, as is done in the case of a Marshal, the only other officer of a court appointed by us.
Accept assurances of my constant & affectionate esteem.
P.S. a letter from Capt. Morris informs us he had gone over to Tangier, but had not yet had any communication with the government: but that he should absolutely refuse the passports.
RC (DNA: RG 59, MLR); at foot of text: “The Secretary of State.” PrC (DLC). Recorded in SJL with notation “Marocco business” with “do.” at letters of this date to Navy, War, and Treasury Departments. Enclosures: (1) James Simpson to James Madison, Tangier, 17 June 1802, informing the secretary “with great concern” that the information received by himself and the Swedish consul “on Sunday last,” respecting Mawlay Sulayman’s decision to send his wheat vessels to Tunis rather than Tripoli, was either “extremely fallacious” on the part of the governor of Tangier or that the sultan “must have very speedily repented” his declaration; this morning the governor told Simpson that he had received new instructions from the sultan, “with Orders to demand from me Passports for those Vessels to go direct to Tripoly and in case of refusal that I was to quit the Country, adding that the Letter was written in such strong terms, as must prevent his consenting to any mitigation”; after “a very long conference” with the governor, Simpson was permitted time to write Commodore Morris at Gibraltar, “which I am now about to do fully, on his answer will depend my remaining in this Country, or being compelled to retire from it” (see below); since a Portuguese brig is about to depart for Gibraltar, Simpson will not enlarge further on the matter but assures the secretary that “nothing possible for me to accomplish, for good of the Public Service on this occasion, shall be neglected” (DNA: RG 59, CD; Madison, Papers, Sec. of State Ser description begins William T. Hutchinson, Robert A. Rutland, J. C. A. Stagg, and others, eds., The Papers of James Madison, Chicago and Charlottesville, 1962–, 33 vols. Sec. of State Ser., 1986–, 9 vols.; Pres. Ser., 1984–, 6 vols.; Ret. Ser., 2009–, 1 vol. description ends ., 3:319–20). (2) Richard Law to TJ, 29 July 1802 (recorded in SJL as received from New London on 8 Aug. but not found).
THE CONSTITUTION: here, and in his letter to Robert Smith of the same date printed below, TJ mistakenly wrote the Constitution, which was in ordinary at Boston at this time, instead of the Constellation (NDBW description begins Dudley W. Knox, ed., Naval Documents Related to the United States Wars with the Barbary Powers, Washington, D.C., 1939–44, 6 vols. and Register of Officer Personnel and Ships’ Data, 1801–1807, Washington, D.C., 1945 description ends , Register, 70–1). TJ identified the vessel correctly in his letters to Henry Dearborn and Albert Gallatin of this date, printed above.
WHILE SWEDEN COOPERATES: Sweden, like the United States, was at war with Tripoli. In 1801, after the Swedish government refused to ratify a treaty that would have stopped hostilities but required substantial payments to Tripoli, Swedish warships arrived in the Mediterranean with instructions to work in conjunction with the U.S. squadron. Swedish and American naval commanders agreed to provide convoy protection to both countries’ merchant ships and cooperated in blockading Tripoli. Through John Quincy Adams, before he left his post as U.S. minister to Prussia, Sweden renewed a suggestion that the United States join with Denmark and Sweden in a formal alliance in the Mediterranean. During John Adams’s presidency the United States had received a similar overture, which Adams rejected because the United States was not then at war with any of the Barbary states and had treaties of amity with all of them. Although TJ and Madison continued to shun an official alliance, in April 1802, when Madison gave James L. Cathcart instructions for negotiating with Tripoli, he took note of the “good disposition which Sweden has shewn to unite her measures with those of the U States, for controuling the predatory habits of the Barbary powers.” Madison asked Cathcart to continue cooperating informally with the Swedes (Madison, Papers, Sec. of State Ser. description begins William T. Hutchinson, Robert A. Rutland, J. C. A. Stagg, and others, eds., The Papers of James Madison, Chicago and Charlottesville, 1962–, 33 vols. Sec. of State Ser., 1986–, 9 vols.; Pres. Ser., 1984–, 6 vols.; Ret. Ser., 2009–, 1 vol. description ends , 1:4–5, 348–9, 370; 2:83–4, 97; 3:136; NDBW description begins Dudley W. Knox, ed., Naval Documents Related to the United States Wars with the Barbary Powers, Washington, D.C., 1939–44, 6 vols. and Register of Officer Personnel and Ships’ Data, 1801–1807, Washington, D.C., 1945 description ends , 1:599, 603, 605, 610–11, 620, 627, 637; 2:28, 41, 52–3, 163; Michael Kitzen, “Money bags or Cannon Balls: The Origins of the Tripolitan War, 1795–1801,” Journal of the Early Republic, 16 , 617, 619; Ray W. Irwin, The Diplomatic Relations of the United States with the Barbary Powers, 1776–1816 [Chapel Hill, 1931], 122; Vol. 36:667).
LETTER FROM CAPT. MORRIS: on 20 June 1802, Commodore Richard V. Morris wrote the secretary of the navy that he had arrived off Tangier, but had not been on shore or received new communications from James Simpson. He would send any information by the first available conveyance, and in the meantime awaited the arrival of the frigate Adams with instructions from the secretary. Until then, Morris avows that “I certainly shall not consent to granting the passports required by the Emperor of Morocco.” Morris also enclosed copies of Simpson’s letter to him of 17 June and his reply of ca. 19 June. Simpson’s communication informed the commodore of the sultan’s renewed passport demands for the wheat vessels intended for Tripoli and his threat to expel Simpson if the request were not granted. He also told Morris that the sultan planned on sending “a Captain and crew with his passport” for a Tripolitan ship “that lies at Gibraltar, which would be navigated under his flag.” The governor of Tangier agreed to suspend the sultan’s orders until Simpson could write Morris and receive his answer. Simpson believed that granting the passports would inflict “far less national injury” than a refusal would have on American commerce in the region. Although Morocco had “not a single cruiser to send to sea,” Simpson feared increased insurance premiums and pointed out that several American vessels were currently at Mogador, with more expected. Simpson attempted to explain to the governor the consequences of carrying out the sultan’s orders, but to no effect. “Thus situated,” Simpson felt that “it is better to grant the passports than to come to a rupture with this country.” There was not “the least shadow of hope” that he would be allowed to remain if the sultan’s request was not granted. In response, Morris wrote that although he regretted Simpson’s situation and the effect his expulsion would have on American trade, he could not consent to granting the passports. The “unreasonableness” of the sultan’s demands “instantly points out the conduct we are to pursue,” Morris replied. “Surely, the United States would not blockade a port, at considerable expence,” he added, “if the government contemplated their officers would permit supplies to be furnished the ports in that situation by neighboring powers, and thus defeat the intent of the blockade.” The secretary of the navy, however, had promised Morris instructions on this point by the Adams, which is “momently expected,” and Morris urged Simpson to negotiate a suspension of the sultan’s orders until the frigate arrived (NDBW description begins Dudley W. Knox, ed., Naval Documents Related to the United States Wars with the Barbary Powers, Washington, D.C., 1939–44, 6 vols. and Register of Officer Personnel and Ships’ Data, 1801–1807, Washington, D.C., 1945 description ends , 2:181–3).
1. TJ here canceled “I suppose.”
2. Preceding three words interlined in place of “is.”