James Madison Papers

To James Madison from James Leander Cathcart, 24 July 1803

From James Leander Cathcart, 24 July 1803

No. 9.

Leghorn July 24th: 1803


At this moment I mean only to acknowledge the receipt of Yours of the 9th: of April enclosed with two letters from the President to the Bey of Tunis the one of the 14th: & the other of the 22nd: of April the Commission for Tunis was not enclosed probably left out by mistake, & to inform you that I immediately took passage onboard a greek Polacca bound to Corfú whose master has agreed to land me at Malta where I no doubt will find some of our ships of war & will proceed to execute the Presidents orders with an alacrity proportionable to the means furnish’d me. I have endeavor’d to negociate funds for the purposebut find it difficult to procure cash for bills upon government & I am not furnish’d with a credit else where. None has yet offer’d to accept them for less than twelve perCent which will induce me to only draw for sufficient to facilitate a negotiation with Tripoli which is absolutely necessary as that Bashaw prefers a sum comparatively smaller on the moment an agreement is made to a much larger gratuity payable at a distant period.

I sail tomorrow God willing upon a mission not very congenial to my feelings, but the President may depend upon my punctually obeying my instructions however mortifying to my own pride & sense of national dignity; but government are the proper & best judges of the steps necessary to be taken to promote the welfare of the community in general & I bend to imperious necessity, but not without a sigh! I long ere now expected to see Tripoli prostrate at our feet. One small effort would have establish’d our national character with that Regency for a century better than a million sterling, but for want of energy & a spirit of enterprize we bring our humiliations to the Bashaws foot stool. I have the honor to subscribe myself with the greatest respect & esteem, Sir Yr. most Hble & Obnt. Servt.

James Lear: Cathcart

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