From James Madison
Washington Mar. 17. 1803
In the inclosed Intelligencer you will find the letter from Pichon to the Govr. of Louisiana. Having been written without reference to its publication, it is less carefully fitted than Yrujo’s for the contemplated impression; and in connection with that presents some points for sophistical comments, which are made rather more, than less salient by the reflections of the Editor. The letter will however be useful in several respects, particularly in rescuing France from the odium thrown on her suspected agency.
There are voluminous communications from the Mediterranean but in general of old date. The inclosed letter from the Bey of Tunis, of which a copy was some time ago recd. claims attention. Eaton says he dreads the consequence of a refusal, yet takes for granted that it will as it ought to take place. If an account recd. last night from Kirkpatrick be true, which appears to be authentic, Algiers will probably become more managiable. He writes from Malaga, on Feby. 1. that the French Consul there, had advice from his colleague at Barcelona, that a vessel had just arrived there with despatches for the French Govt. informing it of a declaration of war by the Dey Algiers, and that the despatches were gone on by Express to Paris. In general our affairs were considered in Mediterranean as tending the wrong way. All agree that peace with Tripoli was for a long time in our power & almost on our own terms; and lament that the crisis is probably past. For the present it seems essential that the gun carriages shd. go to Morroco; the stipulated stores to Algiers, and a complaisant refusal of the Frigate, to Tunis. With respect to Tripoli, we must wait for communications from Morris & Cathcart. I have written to Lear to sound him on the subject of taking Cathcart’s place at Algiers.
The other inclosed letter has just been put into my hands by Mr. Pichon.
With respectful attachment always yours
RC (DLC); endorsed by TJ as received from the State Department on 21 Mch. and “Pichon. Bey Tunis. Tripoli. Marroco” and so recorded in SJL. Enclosures: see below.
On 16 Mch., the National Intelligencer printed, in English, Louis André Pichon’s letter of the 11th to Manuel de Salcedo. Pichon declared that the interests of the French government were “implicated” in the events at New Orleans and argued that even if the intendant had acted without instructions from Spain in abolishing the right of deposit, Salcedo was not free of responsibility. Advocating that the Spanish crown surely wanted to maintain peace as a matter of course, Pichon implied that if Salcedo did not intercede and the situation ended in armed conflict, blame would fall on him as governor. In comments appended to the letter, the editor asked readers to bear in mind “that it is possible” the crisis was in fact the result of policy—if misguided—on the part of higher authorities. The governments of Spain and France must recognize that the interests of both countries “would be deeply injured by the necessary, the inevitable effect of a deliberative invasion of our rights on the Mississippi.” Americans along the seaboard and west of the Appalachians were in agreement on that point, the editor insisted: “There is, and can be but one opinion in America; and there is but one sentiment” (Madison to TJ, 14 Mch.).
The letter to TJ from Hammuda, the bey of tunis, who suggested that the United States show its respect for him through the gift of a 36-gun frigate, was dated 8 Sep. 1802 (Vol. 38:365–8). Writing to Madison on 12 Sep., William eaton advised that the bey and his ministers expected the request to be denied and would use the refusal as justification for a more adversarial position toward the United States (same, 367n).
algiers: Mustafa Baba declared war on France in January, but then postponed to allow time for the French consul to receive instructions from Paris. At issue were the dey’s demands for increases in presents, an unpaid loan taken out some years before by the Directory, and the role of France as guarantor of the treaty between Denmark and Algiers. When word came that the French government was preparing a shipment of presents, Mustafa did not pursue his threat to initiate hostilities. William Kirkpatrick was the U.S. consul at Malaga, Spain (Madison, Papers description begins William T. Hutchinson, Robert A. Rutland, J. C. A. Stagg, and others, eds., The Papers of James Madison, Chicago and Charlottesville, 1962- , 35 vols., Sec. of State Ser., 1986- , 9 vols., Pres. Ser., 1984- , 7 vols., Ret. Ser., 2009- , 2 vols. description ends , Sec. of State Ser., 4:242–3, 299, 463, 469).
Madison’s letter asking Tobias lear to become the consul at Algiers has not been found. Mustafa Baba had written to TJ in October protesting the appointment of James Leander Cathcart to the position (same, 428, 429n; Vol. 38:509–10).
The other inclosed letter may have been one from Pichon to Madison of 17 Mch. requesting credentials for Gérard Cazeaux as vice commissary for commercial relations at Portsmouth, New Hampshire (Madison, Papers description begins William T. Hutchinson, Robert A. Rutland, J. C. A. Stagg, and others, eds., The Papers of James Madison, Chicago and Charlottesville, 1962- , 35 vols., Sec. of State Ser., 1986- , 9 vols., Pres. Ser., 1984- , 7 vols., Ret. Ser., 2009- , 2 vols. description ends , Sec. of State Ser., 4:428, 429n, 431). TJ signed an exequatur for Cazeaux on 5 Apr. (FC in Lb in DNA: RG 59, Exequaturs).