James Madison Papers

To James Madison from James Leander Cathcart, 26 September 1804 (Abstract)

§ From James Leander Cathcart

26 September 1804, Leghorn. “The annext copy of my last letter to Mr. Nissen1 is a tribute of respect due to that gentleman for his services since the war with Tripoli commenced, & his humanity to our unfortunate fellow Citizens in captivity. The extract from Mr. Higgens2 at Malta will inform you of Comodore Prebles operations since my last,3 & serve to prove that my opinion that co-ercive measures with that Regency would oblige the Bashaw to accede to any terms we might propose to him were at least founded upon probability; every person but those who have neither courage or ability to transact their own business with the heads of the Barbary States are of the same sentiment, & I am happy that the measures which Comodore Preble has invariably pursued tends to prove that craft & double dealing however successful for a time, & productive of evil consequences to individuals will ultimately be confuted & truth become victorious; the Sanhedrim at Algiers who were the promoters of the War with Tripoli will be astonish’d to hear that Comodore Preble with so small a force has obliged the Bashaw to relinquish his demand of tribute: had those measures been pursued previous to the unfortunate loss of the Philadelphia4 & the consequent captivity of her crew, the Bashaw œre now would have sign’d the Treaty [(]of which I forwarded to you a Copy)5 onboard our Comodores Ship according to my prediction; but at present he probably will hold out something longer in hopes that the value we set upon our fellow Citizens may induce us to pay him an exorbitant ransom.”

RC and enclosures (DNA: RG 59, CD, Tripoli, vol. 2). RC 2 pp. For enclosures (4 pp.), see nn. 1–2.

1Cathcart appended a copy of his letter to Nicolai C. Nissen, 27 Aug. 1804 (printed in Knox, Naval Documents, Barbary Wars description begins Dudley W. Knox, ed., Naval Documents Related to the United States Wars with the Barbary Powers (6 vols.; Washington, D.C., 1939–44). description ends , 4:467), thanking Nissen for his assistance to captured Americans in Cathcart’s absence, noting that the president had ordered Tobias Lear to present Nissen with a gold snuffbox, and asking Nissen to dispose of the contents of the consular house and send the proceeds to Cathcart or his agent.

2The appended extract (printed in the 24 Nov. 1804 New York American Citizen, where it is dated 25 Sept.) is from William Higgins to Cathcart, 5 Sept. 1804, conveying the news of Preble’s attacks on Tripoli and the pasha’s increased willingness to come to terms.

3Cathcart to JM, 9 July 1804, PJM-SS description begins Robert J. Brugger et al., eds., The Papers of James Madison: Secretary of State Series (7 vols. to date; Charlottesville, Va., 1986–). description ends , 7:434–35.

4See George Davis to JM, 17 Nov. 1803, ibid., 6:58–59 and nn.

5See Cathcart to JM, 5 May 1803, ibid., 4:575–76 and n. 4.

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