George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Giuseppe Chiappe, 18 July 1789

From Giuseppe Chiappe

Mogador [Morocco] 18th July 1789

Your Excellency

I had the honor to write to Your Excellency the 25th of April by the way of Madrid,1 & I make no doubt but that Yr Excelly was Kind enough to explain to the Honorable Congress every thing which I had communicated for the welfare of the UStates of America, & as Capt. Joseph Proctor of the Schooner Polly belonging to Salem, is about to sail immediately for that place, I take the liberty to add a copy of my aforesaid Letter by this favorable opportunity & as least subject to delay. I must moreover inform Your Excelly of what beset the aforesaid Capt. Proctor, who in the Latitude of the Canary Islands & about 50 degrees Longitude, on his way to his place of destination returning from Cadiz with a load of Salt, being met by two of His Imperial Majestys Frigates, was visited by them Who would not acknowledge them for Americans because they had not Meditteranean passes as other Nations, & being suspected for a Muscovite, he was brought into this port of Mogador the 11th instant, that His Imperial Majestys intentions might be Known as to his fate. I immediately took every measure in his favor, & after having well informed myself that his passport & all his papers were regular & in good form I dispatched a Courrier to the Court with my Letter for the Emperor, which was immediately presented by my brother Francisco who supported this representation with the utmost zeal. His Imperial Majesty was very much displeased with his privateers & sent to examine the Ray, Sub Rays & Pilots in order the better to understand from them the cause of so unexpected an inconvenience, & at the same time dispatched two of his Alcaydes who arrived yesterday with letters for me & for the government, in which he has ordered that the aforesaid Captain his Vessel & Crew shall be immediately set at liberty to go wherever he shall please; to furnish him gratis with every refreshment & to take from him a formal certificate of the treatment whether good or bad which he received from his Rays to chastise them, & a note of what they might have taken or extorted from him, & to restore the same immediately & he annexed thereto a Letter patent with this Royal seal, by which it is declared that His Imperial Majesty ratifys the Treaties concluded with the American nation under the auspices of Spain & in every thing & every where accedes to the peace subsisting between him & the other European nations;2 His Imperial Majesty confirms me in his letter to me, as also to my brother Geronimo at Tangiers & to my brother Francisco at Morocco as agents for the UStates of America, & orders me particularly to assist the aforesaid Captain & to inform myself from him of the Situation of the maritime cities, of the anchorage, Ports & courses to be held for North America, & the several distances, for the purpose of more express intelligence, which I acquaint Your Excellency with, as His Imperial Majestys intentions may be known, being very impatient to cultivate a more assiduous correspondence, which has been so long expected. Capt. Joseph Proctor has very highly praised the good treatment of the Privateers Rays, declaring the same in writing & he has given such information as His Majesty could wish all which I shall take care to send to His Imperial Majesty accompanied with all such explanations as may tend to maintain good harmony, while Your Excellency disposes the Honore Congress to show those formalities which the Emperor of Morocco seems to expect. As to myself I am always devoted to the service of the Honble Congress & ready to correspond at all times with the superior views of the whole nation by the assiduity of my employment in the post of Agent to which I have been appointed, & I impatiently look for those favorable arrangements which may enable me to support the same with dignity. I beg leave to implore the continuation of Your Excellencys respectable protection, & have the honor to be very profoundly Your Excellencys &ca.3

Translation, DNA:PCC, item 98; ALS, DNA:PCC, item 98; LB (translation), DLC:GW. The translation in PCC was made by John Pintard.

The three Chiappe brothers, Giuseppe, Girolamo (Geronimo), and Francisco, became involved in American affairs in North Africa at least as early as 1784. Apparently Italian in origin, Giuseppe was consul for Genoa and vice-consul for Venice at Mogador and Girolamo was consul for Venice and vice-consul for Genoa at Tangiers (DNA:PCC, item 104, 6:290–91; Giuseppe Chiappe to GW, 28 Oct. 1791). The Chiappes acted in behalf of the United States in 1784 when on 11 Oct. Sidi Mohammed, emperor of Morocco, impatient at the lack of progress in negotiating a treaty with the United States, had the United States brigantine Betsey seized. The next year Richard Harrison, one of the officers of the Betsey, reported in a deposition, 4 Oct. 1785, that once the ship’s complement arrived in Morocco, they were taken before the emperor who “directed one Chappé a christian minister to take care of them” (DNA:PCC, item 98). It was Francisco Chiappe who notified Benjamin Franklin on 3 Nov. 1784 that the ship had been seized and offered his services as an intermediary. Francisco instructed Franklin to send his reply “to Mogador or to Darelbeida, to Messrs Joseph & Francisco Chiappe, the which name is that of our Company in that House of Commerce in those two Harbours or Ports” (DNA:PCC, item 82, 3:334–35). Francisco, who signs his letters as secretary of his imperial majesty’s foreign affairs in Barbary, was described in 1786 as one who “fait les fonctions de Ministre des Affaires Etrangeres a la cour de Maroc” (DNA:PCC, item 98, 306 and item 82, 3:333; William Carmichael to Jefferson, 16 June 1786, in Boyd, Jefferson Papers, description begins Julian P. Boyd et al., eds. The Papers of Thomas Jefferson. 40 vols. to date. Princeton, N.J., 1950—. description ends 9:647–49). On 10 Jan. 1785, Francisco again wrote to Franklin, notifying him that the prisoners from the Betsey arrived in Morocco in December 1784 and had been placed in his custody. The emperor, he said, had instructed him to write Congress concerning the affair and that “His Majesty besides the Title of his Secretary for foreign Affairs, has been pleased to give me the Title of Instructor, and Mediator in the Affairs of Ambassadors, of the Consuls, of the Merchants” (DNA:PCC, item 82). The Betsey was released in July 1785, and in the fall Thomas Barclay, the commissioner to settle United States accounts in Europe, was made agent to negotiate a treaty with Morocco. After arriving in Algiers in March 1786, Barclay wrote Adams and Jefferson on 10 June that “Mr. Chiappi” (probably Giuseppe) had procured for him a guard of Moroccan soldiers to act as guides in Mogador (Boyd, Jefferson Papers, description begins Julian P. Boyd et al., eds. The Papers of Thomas Jefferson. 40 vols. to date. Princeton, N.J., 1950—. description ends 9:626). Barclay, who lodged with Giuseppe Chiappe, (DNA:PCC, item 91), appointed Francisco, Giuseppe, and Girolamo, American agents at Morocco, Mogador, and Tangiers, respectively, subject to the approval of Congress (DNA:PCC, item 104, 6:290; item 91, 169). Correspondence with the emperor was thereafter usually forwarded through one of the three brothers and Jefferson wrote them on 15 Sept. 1787 that Congress had approved their appointments, but they seem never to have received official notification (Boyd, Jefferson Papers, description begins Julian P. Boyd et al., eds. The Papers of Thomas Jefferson. 40 vols. to date. Princeton, N.J., 1950—. description ends 11:619–20, 626, 12:121–22, 462–63; DNA:PCC, item 198, 384).

In March 1790 Sidi Mohammed died and the Chiappes’ connections with the new emperor became a matter of concern. See Giuseppe Chiappe to GW, 13 May 1790; Jefferson to William Carmichael, 6 Aug. 1790, in Boyd, Jefferson Papers, description begins Julian P. Boyd et al., eds. The Papers of Thomas Jefferson. 40 vols. to date. Princeton, N.J., 1950—. description ends 17:318–20. Barclay went back to Morocco in 1791 to deliver the presents promised at the time of the treaty of 1786 and to secure the support of Sidi Mohammed’s successor for the treaty. In his instructions to Barclay of 13 May 1791, Jefferson noted that Francisco Chiappe had served the United States well and requested Barclay to see that he was amply rewarded. He added that Chiappe’s place “near the Emperor renders his friendship peculiarly important. Let us have nothing further to do with his brothers or any other person. The money which would make one good friend, divided among several will produce no attachment” (ibid., 20:397–400). The Chiappe brothers continued to write to American officials until the mid–1790s, but the correspondence was mainly to maintain their contacts with the United States rather than to transact official business.

1This letter is addressed “To His Excellency The President of the Honorable Congress of the United States of America at Philadelphia.” Since it is unlikely that Chiappe, writing from Mogador, could have learned of GW’s election by 25 April, the letter was probably intended for the president of Congress. The translation, made by John Pintard, reads in part: “It is so long since I wished to obey the Honorable Congress in a more particular manner, that it has always burthened my mind, that I have deferred writing to Your Excellency till this instant, as presiding over that Honorable Body, to acquaint them with all my active proceedings with the Emperor of Morocco . . . & by whom I have been chosen Agent at Mogador, as my brothers Geronimo & Francisco have been at Tangiers & the court. . . . we always flattered ourselves that the Letters patent would have been sent to us formally by Mr Jay . . . & we have frequently been asked by the Monarch himself whether the Americans had forgot their promises after the Embassy which had been conducted to mutual satisfaction. . . . The Minister . . . insisted that Mr Barclay had promised them that the U. States of America would not delay testifying their acknowledgments for the new peace that has been concluded, & that every thing would be done to the wishes of the sovereign. So great an interval of time has since elapsed that His Impl Majesty Conceives himself ill treated & has lately written to his government of Mogador, & every where else that the Americans shall no longer enjoy the priviledge of one half on the duties of entry which he had granted to them on all merchandizes for the course of three Years in preference to all other nations, untill he has been authentically informed by the Honorable Congress of the U. States of America that their Representatives in Barbary . . . have their confidence to treat about any affairs that may arise on either side. I immediately foresaw some discontent which might tend to bad consequences & in the mean time I made it my duty to acquaint His Impl Majesty thro’ my brother Francisco who is at the Court, that the Honorable Congress would never fail in the most exact correspondence, & that the delay could only arise from its Government not having as yet agreed upon all the general & particular articles of its equitable constitution, which when concluded His Majesty would have reason to be satisfied with their proceedings & friendly recollection” (DNA:PCC, item 98).

2On 1 Dec. 1789 John Jay wrote to Chiappe, informing him of the formation of the new government and of GW’s election. “In obedience to the Orders of the President I have also the Honor of signifying to you, that he is well pleased with your constant attention to the Affairs and Interests of the United States, and particularly with your seasonable Representations to his Majesty, as well touching the Case of Captain Proctor, as on other Subjects interesting to the Preservation of Peace, Harmony, and mutual Confidence. The Emperor’s Conduct relative to Captain Proctor was just and noble, and has impressed the United States with those Sentiments which such Conduct never fails to inspire” (DNA:PCC, item 98).

3The original version of this letter reads as follows: “J’ay eû l’honnœur d’êcrire à V.E. le 25e Avril par la voye de Madrid, & Je ne doute pas que V.E. aura eûë la bonté de bien expliquer a l’Honorable le Congres tout ce dont Je me suis empressé de le notitier pour le bien Public des Etâts Unis de l’Amerique, & comme le Capn Joseph Proctor de Son Sconer le Polly de Salem doit faire voyage immediatement pour la ditte Place, Je prend la liberté d’ajoutter Copie de ma susditte Lettre pour le Cours plus convenable, & pour le moindre retard, au cas que Je me trouve d’informer encore V.E. de ce qu’il vient d’arriver au susnomé Capn Joseph Proctor, qui a la hauteur des Isles Canaries a 125. & 50. degrés environs de longitude, faisant sa route pour sa destination, de retour qu’il êtoit de Cadix chargé de Sel, ayant êté rencontré par deux Fregattes de S.M.I., & visité par les mêmes, qui n’ont pas voulu le reconnoitre pour Americain a cause de n’avoir pas le Papier de confront comme les autres Nations, & soupçonné d’être plus-tôt un Moscovite, il a êté amméné dans cet Port de Mogador le 11e du Courrent, jusqu’a sçavoir les intentions de S.M.I. sur son sort; Je me suis donné tout de suite les mouvements possibles pour Luy, & aprez m’être bien instruit que son Passeport & tous ses Papiers êtoient en regle, & en bonne forme, J’ay depeché un Courrier a la Cour avec ma Lettre pour l’Empereur, qui a êté presentée immediatement par mon Frere Francisco qui a assisté cette representation avec tout le zele possible; S.M.I. s’est indignée contre ses Corsaires, & elle en a envoyé appeller les Rays, les sous Rays, & les Pilotes pour mieux entendre d’eux la cause d’un inconvenient si inopiné, & au même tems Elle a depeché deux de ses Alkaydes, qui sont arrivé hyer, avec des Lettres pour moy, & pour le Gouvernement, dans les quelles il est ordonné de mettre a vuë en liberté le susdit Capn, Son Navire, & son Equipage pour repartir quand bon Luy semblera; De Luy donner gratis toute sorte de Rafrechissements, & de prendre de Luy un certificat formel du traitement bon ou meauvais qu’il a reçu de ses Rays pour les en chatier, & une note de ce qu’on puisse Luy avoir touché, ou extorqué pour le Luy restituer incessemment, & il l’ha muni d’une Lettre Patente avec son Sceau Royale, par la quelle il est declaré que S.M.I. ratifie les Traités conclus avec la Nation Americaine sous les auspices de l’Espagne, & en tout & par tout Elle accede a la meillœure Paix qui subsiste entre Luy & les autres Nations Europeennes; Dans les Lettres pour moy S.M.I. me confirme, aussi bien que mon Frere Geronimo a Tanger, & mon Frere Francisco a Maroc pour Agents des Etâts Unis de l’Amérique, & m’ordonne d’assister particulierement le susdit Capn, & de m’informer du même de la situation des Villes maritimes, des Fonds, de Leurs Ports, & de la route que de l’Arache il faut tenir pour l’Amerique Septentrionale, & toutes ses distences pour une plus expressée intelligence, ce dont Je dois prevenir V.E. pour reconnoitre dans les intentions de S.M.I. qu’Elle est impatiente d’avoir une plus assidue correspondence si long tems attendue; Le Capn Joseph Proctor c’est fort loué du bon traittement des Rays Corsaires en le declarant par êcrit, & il a donnée l’information que le Monarque poeut souhaiter, tout ce que J’aurois soin de faire parvenir a S.M.I. accompagné de toutes les explications les plus tendentes a entrettenir la bonne armonie, pendant que V.E. dispose au bon grez de L’Honorable le Congres des Etats Unis ce dont L’Empereur Maroqui paroit s’attendre de formalités, & de reste; Pour moy Je suis toujours devoué au service de l’Honorable le Congres, & tout prêt a correspondre en tout tems aux vuës superieures de toute la Nation dans l’assiduité de mon Employ d’Agent au quel J’ay êté destiné, & Je m’attend avec impatience aux favorables dispositions qui pœvent me mettre a même de le soutenir avec dignité; J’ose implorer la continuation de la respectable protection de V.E. & J’ay l’honnœur d’être trés profondement De V. Excellence Le trés Humble & trés Obt Servitœur.”

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