James Madison Papers

To James Madison from George Davis, 17 November 1803

From George Davis

Tunis Nov. 17th 1803.


On the evening of the 13th. instant, a Courier arrived from Tripoly, who reported that an American Frigate, had run on Shore at that place; and was captured by the Gunboats of the Regency—most of the Consuls, had letters, but no mention was made of the circumstance. On the following morning, I was at Bardo, with Mr. Nyssen, who informed me, that no doubt could be entertained of the fact, in as much, as he had seen the Bashaw’s letter, to His Excellency the Bey. I immediately dispatched a Courier for Tripoly, with the enclosed letters.1 This morning, another Courier has arrived who brings a confirmation of the report. She proves to be the Philadelphia, Commanded by Wm. Bainbridge Esq., mounting 42 guns with a Crew of 307. men, 29 officers included—grounded on the morning of the 30th. ultimo, in chase of a Corsair.2 No detail has been received of the number of men killed, or wounded—an express, departs at this moment for Algiers. I am not ignorant that Mr. Nissen, His Danish Majesty’s Consul, was charged with our Affairs by Mr. Cathcart; but as his Govt. was fearful that their affairs, might be embroiled in consequence of the information, he might give of the Bashaw’s movements; the only communication I have ever received from that Quarter, was his regrets at not being able to fulfill the Charge. It is also of importance that our Officers, shoud be placed under the Protection of Such a Representative, as is Respected, and fear’d; and as Commode. Morris’s personal safety was guaranteed by the French Commissary; it is to be hoped, that the measure I have taken, will meet your full approbation. With great Respect & Consideration I have the honor to be Sir, Your Most Obedt. servt.

George Davis

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