From James Madison
Washington Mar. 21. 1803
A letter from Hulings of Feby. 15. says that at that date the Intendant had not revoked the interruption of the deposit; but had from regard to the wants of the Colony, opened the market to flour & other provisions brought down the Mississippi; the articles being subject to a duty of 6 perCt. if consumed there, and to the usual export duty, (I believe 12 perCt) if sent as an indulgence in Spanish bottoms to Places within the lawful trade of the Colony. It is possible that this may be a retrograde step of the Intendant masked by his pride under the policy of a colonial regulation. It appears that the forbearance of that Officer to conform to the presumed object of Yrujo’s first letters, had produced a general belief at N. Orleans that orders from the Spanish Govt had led to the violation of our right.
Eaton writes from Tunis late in Decr. that the Bey had not only renewed his demand of the Frigate; but had raked together all his old claims of Oxen Cattle &c and that his Minister insisted on the goldmounted fusil in addition to the silver one recd. He complains of the vis inertia of our marine, anticipates evils, and decides on not passing another summer there. He signifies that he shall consult with Morris & Cathcart, in case of their appearing before Tunis, on the expediency of his giving the Bey the slip; apprehending that he may not be permitted by the Bey to leave that place. It will be necessary therefore to provide immediately a successor to him as well as to OBrien.
In consequence of my letter to Mr. Lear, he came over the day before yesterday. He is willing to take an appt. at Algiers, with a salary of $4000, but will require 6 weeks or two months, to prepare for embarkation.
With respectful attachment always Yrs.
RC (DLC); endorsed by TJ as received from the State Department on 25 Mch. and “N. Orleans. Tunis. Tripoli. Jarvis” and so recorded in SJL.
From New Orleans, William E. hulings sent a copy of a 5 Feb. proclamation by Juan Ventura Morales that allowed shippers from U.S. territories to land flour, salted meat, and other foodstuffs. Citing a royal ordinance of 1794, the intendant decreed that the goods would be subject to a six percent duty. Any of those provisions that were reshipped out of New Orleans would be subject to export regulations and duties. The “pretty general” opinion in the city, according to Hulings, was that Morales was generally too well informed and too aware of the consequences of his actions to have barred the right of deposit “without high authority” (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., 4:312, 322–3; National Intelligencer, 21 Mch.).
In 1800, Hammuda Pasha had prepared a list of expensive personal items that he required in return for his confirmation of the treaty between tunis and the United States. Fulfilling the list had taken a long time because some of the pieces, including firearms, had to be custom-made in England. In a dispatch to Madison dated 20 Dec., William Eaton reported that Hammuda’s prime minister, Yusuf Sahib-at-Taba, was making a false claim that a double-barreled fowling piece with gold mountings was supposed to be part of the gift. The Tunisians also renewed a request for some bulls, cows, and a pair of large oxen that Eaton had promised to obtain for them in 1801 (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., 1:82; 4:51, 206–8; King, Life description begins Charles R. King, ed., The Life and Correspondence of Rufus King: Comprising His Letters, Private and Official, His Public Documents and His Speeches, New York, 1894–1900, 6 vols. description ends , 3:246–7; Vol. 36:667–8n).
he complains: Eaton contended that the lack of activity by the U.S. squadron against Tripoli weakened his position in resisting Hammuda’s demands. The Tunisians distrusted him, and if he was no longer effective, his position could be filled by anyone “whose fidelity can be relied on, and who is capable of writing an intelligible letter.” He hoped to find some “stratagem” to leave Tunis and return to the United States—“I cannot serve another summer in this station!” he declared (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., 4:207).
vis inertia: force of inertia.
In response to a memorial pressed by William jarvis, the U.S. consul at Lisbon, in favor of the admission of flour from the United States into Portugal, Prince Regent João had ordered an inspector to compare bread made from American flour with bread made from other flour. The report of that trial, Jarvis informed Madison in a dispatch dated 9 Feb., convinced a majority of the prince regent’s ministers that American flour should be allowed into the Portuguese market. The government placed a duty on the commodity, but Jarvis, who had computed that flour would command a higher price than wheat, be less expensive to ship, and be exempt from duties on grain, deemed the special impost a “trifle.” The prince regent also halted restrictions that had subjected vessels arriving from some American cities to a quarantine. Under the new order, ships and cargo from the United States that showed no evidence of contagious disease would be allowed immediate entry into Portuguese harbors (same, 19–20, 196–7, 306, 313–15; National Intelligencer, 21 Mch.).