From James Madison
Aug. 25. 1802
Yours of the 23d. has been duly recd. Mr. Brent had informed me that copies of the letters from the Mediterranean had been sent to you by Mr. Smith, and therefore I did not send the originals by express. The declaration of a rupture by the Empr. of Morocco, put me at a loss what to say to Simson on the subject of the Gun carriages, and how to decide as to the letter you left with me. As the event however was anticipated when you were here, as a necessary consequence, of Morris’s concurrence in the refusal of Simson, and of the instructions sent from the Navy Dept. by the Adams, I concluded that the Gun carriages ought still to go, subject to the discretionary & conciliatory use of Morris & Simson, and have written to Simson on that supposition. I was the more inclined to this opinion, by the anxiety & the ideas of the Secretary of the Treasy. Reasoning in a similar manner, I sent on to Mr. Brent your letter to the E. of M. with an erasure of the last paragraph, & some little alteration besides, & a request that the Secretaries present would decide what ought to be done; and have in my letter to Simson given him like discretion over it, as I gave him with respect to the Gun carriages. In pursuance now of your decision agst. sending either, I shall write by the next mail to have a postscript added by Mr. Brent signifying the change that has taken place. Nothing appears in the communications to me, relative to the affair between the Boston & the Tuniscain cruisers. In my letters to Cathcart Eaton OBrien & Simson, I have spoken of it as report believed here, and have fashioned my instructions accordingly particularly those to Eaton. I find from Gaveno’s letters to me, that the capture of the American vessel, was ascribed to a Pirate, and not to a cruiser of Tripoli or Morocco.
With most respectful attachment I remain Yrs.
RC (DLC); at foot of text: “The President of the U. States”; endorsed by TJ as received from the State Department on 29 Aug. and “Barbary” and so recorded in SJL.
LETTER YOU LEFT WITH ME: TJ to Mawlay Sulayman, Sultan of Morocco, 21 Aug.
HAVE WRITTEN TO SIMSON: Madison wrote to James Simpson on 22 Aug., stating that in spite of “hostile declarations” from Morocco, the gun carriages and the president’s letter to the sultan would still be sent on the New York as “conciliatory tokens of the esteem and good will of the U: States.” Madison left it to Simpson and Richard V. Morris to determine whether those items should be delivered: “How far it may be best, in case use can be made of them at all, to tender the Carriages, or send the letter or both, or to communicate only on your receipt of them, must be decided according to circumstances of which yourself & Commodore Morris can best judge.” Madison expected Simpson to consult with Morris whenever it was practical to do so, instructing the consul “to continue your endeavors, as far as circumstances will justify to convey to the Emperor the regret of the U. States, at his unexpected and unprovoked conduct, and their disposition to renew the friendship which has been unhappily interrupted.” The United States, Madison affirmed, would respond to any hostile acts “by opposing force to force.” Madison also decided to send Simpson the dispatch he had prepared on 27 July, “altho’ written with reference to a state of things different from that presented in the last communications” (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 , 3:507–8).
SENT ON TO MR. BRENT: on 23 Aug., Madison sent Daniel Brent TJ’s letter to the sultan and the dispatches to Simpson and the other consuls, but Madison’s cover letter with instructions to Brent has not been found (same, 517).
The surviving Dft of TJ’s letter to Mawlay Sulayman shows no ALTERATION by Madison. The paragraph that he erased from the version of the letter he sent to Brent was evidently the one relating to the gun carriages, beginning “We had been given to understand” (TJ to Sulayman, 21 Aug.).
DECIDE WHAT OUGHT TO BE DONE: on 31 Aug., Brent added a postscript to Madison’s letter to Simpson of the 22d, stating that the “Heads of Departments, who were at the seat of Government” when Madison’s packet arrived, having “discretionary powers from the President to stop the letter referred to for the Emperor of Morocco, and the Gun Carriages, if the state of things should in their judgment, render such a step advisable, have determined that it would not be proper to send either.” The letter and the gun mounts “are both accordingly witheld.” Brent appended a similar postscript, referring only to the gun carriages, to Madison’s letter of 22 Aug. to James Leander Cathcart (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 , 3:505, 508).
For Madison’s letter of 22 Aug. to William EATON, see TJ to Smith of that date. The letter to Richard O’Brien has not been found (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 , 3:516).
GAVENO’S LETTERS: John Gavino had sent several dispatches from Gibraltar during the second half of June. One of 29 June reported that the Franklin had been captured by a galliot with three lateen sails, and that a similar vessel that had attempted to take a Swedish schooner was presumed to have been a pirate ship. Gavino later forwarded information from O’Brien indicating that the captors of the Franklin were from Tripoli and that two Tripolitan corsairs, each of which was a three-sailed galliot, had stopped at Algiers earlier in June en route to the coast of Spain with the intention of targeting American and Swedish merchant vessels (same, 309, 328, 347–8, 349, 388–9).