James Madison Papers

To James Madison from James Simpson, 19 March 1802

From James Simpson, 19 March 1802

No. 38.

Tangier 19th. March 1802.


I have the honour of encloseing with this, copy of my Communications of 20th. February. On the 24th. last Month the Essex Frigate Captain Bainbridge anchored in this Bay. He was supplied with some small Articles of Provision he asked for, as usual duty free, and sailed again the 26th. The 13th. Inst. the Batavian Sloop of War Daphne, arrived here with dispatches from that Government, containing assurances that an Embassy would be sent to Muley Soliman without delay. She proceeded for Algiers & Tunis with similar intelligence. It is very generaly believed, the Dutch when they come to ask for a renewal of their Treaties with this Country, will be required to grant a Subsidy, but as Admiral de Winter comes to the Mediterranean with a respectable Fleet, they may probably obtain a ratification of their Antient Treaty, under its influence.

The Stipulations from Sweden have arrived, consisting in 36 Iron Guns of different Calibers with Carriages, one Brass Mortar & Bed, with a considerable quantity of Shot, Shells & Cordage, besides which there was a variety of Articles in small packages. Mr. Wyk the Swedish Agent here, has gone for Meguinez with the latter, to present same to His Majesty, & the heavy Articles have been deposited in the Public Magazines at this Port.

Commodore Dale wrote me from Gibraltar, that he could not grant any Passport for the Tripoline Ship laying there, without first obtaining permission from the President of the United States. I am highly sensible of the very great impropriety of Muley Soliman makeing such a request, but with him it is not proper to speak all we think; for this reason, rather than impart Commodore Dales determination, in the terms he recommended, I have thought better to intimate to this Government, that as that Gentleman was on the point of quiting this Station, when he received my Letter on subject of His Majestys request, that he left the decision of the matter to his Successor and the Swedish Admiral, as he could not have any opportunity of communicating with Adml. Cederstrom on the subject. This has satisfied them in the moment, & I hope either Peace with Tripoly, or some other circumstance may happen, to do away th⟨e⟩ necessity of any farther Negotiations on that topic. At all events it certainly is best, should the request be ultimately found such as cannot be granted, that Sweden join in the refusal, as it can do no good that the United States come forward alone with such, before Admiral Cederstroms sentiments be known. I confirm that Muley Soliman has agreed to allow Wheat, to be sent from his Country to Tripoly, but I should think it will be next to an impossibility for them to find Vessels to Charter for that Voyage, whilst that Port is so notoriously known to be blockaded; whatever may b⟨e⟩ done in this particular at any of the Emperours Ports, I shall take care to advise the Commanders of the Frigates on this Station of.

Commodore Dale thought I ought to see His Imperial Majesty without loss of time, in order to do away the favourable sentiments he seems to entertain towards the Tripolines. I am satisfied you will be sensible, that is an undertakeing totally out of my power, without being authorised thereto by the President of the United States, and provision ma⟨de⟩ for the unavoidable expence must attend such a visit. At this moment in particular, such a measure is by no means necessary; for the Swedish Mission happening now, affords Mr. Wyk an opportunity of doing all I possibly could; to that end the matter was fully deliberated on between us before his departure, and he assured me he would use his utmost endeavours to convince Muley Soliman, of the impropriety of his takeing the part he has done in behalf of the Tripolines, in a War which they have so unjustly made against Sweden & the United States.

About this time it was expected the two Frigates building at Rhabat would be Launched; but as there is much to be done to them after that, and Stores wanting, it is doubtfull if they will be ready to put to Sea, in all the ensueing Summer. Orders have been lately received at Tetuan, to hasten the finishing two Row Gallies building in that River, and I have it from good authority the Emperor intends purchasing some small Vessels, to be stationed at this place as Cruizers. His Majesty has been pleased to express himself in very gracious terms, on subject of the House mentioned in No. 37, he has directed it shall be sold for his benefit, and says “he shall be happy it will suit the American, after the length of time he has been without one, and prays the Almighty may give him Health to enjoy it.” I have visited the House and find it very extensive, but by no means offering those principal accommodations required, such as a dineing Room & drawing Room, of that size indispensably necessary to a Consular House here.

That part of the House not finished may be converted into these and some Bed Rooms. This and other necessary alterations, upon a rough calculation I think may cost about three thousand dollars. This House was stated to His Majesty by the Gentleman who built it, as having cost him Nine thousand Duccats, but that I do not believe; yesterday I offered Four thousand for it. That price has not yet been admitted. The obvious necessity of my having a suitable House, and the very great length of time necessary to receive your Orders on subject of this purchase, beyond what it can be expected His Majesty would patiently wait our determination; I trust will justify me with Government, for having presumed to go into an Expenditure of Publick money unauthorised, under the most positive assurance, that I will most studiously endeavour at transacting the whole busyness, with the strictest attention to the Interest of the Publick.

It is with great concern I have to acquaint you, that during this week, we have had repeated assurances, the Plague has broke out among the Villages on the Coast of Riff, from four to six days Journey East of Tetuan.

I cannot on this occasion omit praying your very particular attention to what I had the honour of submitting in No. 20 & 23 on subject of Vessels loading in this Country, whilst the Plague rages, and to entreat you will favour me with the necessary Instructions then sollicited. As the Vessels tradeing from this Country to the United States carry Goat Skins, Cow hides, Wool & Feathers, all which are very dangerous Articles, I beg with all due submission to recommend Government establishing a Regulation for the Trade, when the Plague or any Contagious disorder, shall actualy exist in the Province, or those adjoining to the Port, where any Vessel may load for the United States. I have the honour to be with great Respect Sir Your Most Obedient and Most Humble Servant

James Simpson

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