From George Davis
Tunis June 23d. 1804.
The Original or Duplicate of my letter of the 11th. ultimo,1 of which I have now the honor to enclose You a Triplicate, I trust has been received, by which You are informed of the precise expectations of the Bey of Tunis from the U. States—taking as a criterion for the amount of the Cash-payment, the value of our Biennial Regalia at Algiers, as he has ever insisted on this point—that the same amount should be given here; that was sent to Algiers—and that nothing less would ever be accepted. This subject has not since been renewed, as I wish to convince His Excellency, that the ultimatum, has already been offered.
On the 17th. ultimo, was sent for to the Palace, when the Bey again ordered me to leave his Regency; on the faith of Certain complaints made to him, by Some of the Inhabitants of the Island of Jerba. I have the honor to enclose for Your full information No. 1. a Copy of the Correspondence between Commodore Preble, and myself on this subject2—as also No. 2. a Copy of a letter from the Spanish Consul with my answer.3
It is impossible for me to Declare the absolute intentions of the Bey; and can only observe, that his menaces are considered by me, more as the effect of fear, than of a determination to take any immediate hostile measures against us—that I am fully prepared to meet all difficulties; and that intelligence shall reach those, who would check and correct his folly, before his plans could possibly be put in execution. I am well convinced, that these threats will be daily continued untill Our Affairs are finally aranged with this Regency; or a proper chastisement given to Tripoli.
I am favoured with letters from Capt. B., of the 20th. May—the Officers and Crew are in good health; are still confined to the Castle, and no direct communication permitted with them. With Profound respect & Consideration, I have the honor to be, Sir, Your Most Obedt. Servt.
Letterbook copy and letterbook copies of enclosures (NHi: George Davis Letterbooks). For enclosures, see nn.
2. Davis enclosed copies of (1) Davis to Commodore Edward Preble, 18 May 1804 (3 pp.; 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 , 4:109–10), stating that the bey had charged Davis with deceiving him about Davis’s passport and with allowing Selim III’s messenger to enter Tripoli and complained of reports from Djerba about the U.S. capture of two Tunisian ships whose immediate return the bey had demanded, that he had further threatened Davis with expulsion from Tunis and that Davis had promised that the Navy would respect his passport; (2) Davis to Preble, 19 June 1804 (1 p.; printed ibid., 4:204), on Preble’s arrival at Tunis, stating that he was too ill to meet Preble and was enclosing two letters from Bainbridge; (3) Preble to Davis, 19 June 1804 (2 pp.; printed ibid., 4:204–5), saying that he knew nothing about two captured ships, that all vessels entering Tripoli during the blockade would be stopped and examined, that the messenger’s ship had been allowed to enter Tripoli after a search but later had been taken to Malta where Preble ordered its release, and adding that ships would only be allowed to enter Tripoli with U.S. Navy passports; (4) Davis to Preble, 20 June 1804 (3 pp.; printed ibid., 4:209–10), saying that one Tunisian had reported his boat captured in a Tripolitan port, that Davis would ignore any further complaints about the two ships, that it was usual for passports to be issued allowing neutral ambassadors to enter enemy ports, that he would issue passports only when he believed that a refusal would cause difficulty, that he was uncertain what the bey’s real intentions toward the United States were, and that the delayed arrival of his courier to Algiers strengthened reports about that country’s unstable political state; (5) Preble to Davis, 20 June 1804 (2 pp.; printed ibid., 4:210), stating that he had heard only of the capture of an open boat that was violating the blockade, that it had been allowed to drift ashore where people said it was Tripolitan so no compensation could be made, that the bey knew Tripoli was blockaded and should forbid communication with it, and that an Ottoman ambassador to Tripoli would be allowed to enter and leave unmolested providing his ship left carrying no more “property or persons” than it carried in; and probably (6) Davis to Preble, 23 June 1804 (2 pp.; printed ibid., 4:219–220), enclosing copies of correspondence between Davis and Joseph Noguera (see n. 3, below), stating that the Spanish courier at Tunis had left for Tripoli, that Preble should destroy Charles Pinckney’s passport [carried by the courier] and not issue “any thing in writing … as all such papers would be used” against Davis, that there had been a Tripolitan on the courier’s ship, and transmitting letters from Tobias Lear at Algiers for Preble and Richard O’Brien. For the passport for the Ottoman representative, see Davis to JM, 7 Aug. 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 , 7:573, 574 n. 2.
3. Davis enclosed copies of Joseph Noguera’s 22 June 1804 letter (2 pp.; in French; translation 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 , 4:216), asking if Davis knew anything about a report that a U.S. warship blockading Tripoli had captured a Spanish vessel carrying an Ottoman representative; and Davis to Noguera, 22 June 1804 (2 pp.; in Italian), with an English translation (2 pp.; printed ibid., 4:216–17), explaining that La Vergine del Rosario had been allowed to enter Tripoli with Davis’s passport but because the ship left there carrying “fourteen individuals more than when she entered” it was sent to Malta for adjudication, informing Noguera that Davis’s passports to enter Tripoli were no longer valid, and suggesting that the Spanish courier then at Tunis bound for Tripoli get a safe conduct from Preble.