George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Nathaniel Skinner, 8 October 1793

From Nathaniel Skinner

Cadiz [Spain] Octr 8th 1793.


I conceive it a duty I owe to a country (of which I have the honor of being a naturalized citizen—& I trust tho’ only such as true a freind to its interests as warm a wisher for its every prosperity as tho’ it had been my fortune to have the claim of a native of that land of Liberty—America.) to inform Your Excellency of an affair that may materially concern the interests of the United States.

There not being any official American character in this place—I have presumed thus to address & inform Your Excellency.1

This morning arrived in this city an express from Gibraltar, informing that in consequence of a peace made & ratified, between the Dey of Algiers & their High Mightynesses of the United provinces & the Queen of Portugal, that al⟨l⟩ cruizers of the latter powers, have orders to treat the Deys subjects as freinds.2 & on Sunday the [6]th Four frigates three Kebecks & two Brigs belonging to Algiers passed Gibraltar on a cruize to the Westward. Their only prey now is Americans & much I fear that their vile efforts will be too successful, how much Americans are indebted to the intrigues of the courts of England & the powers opposed to the liberties of France, may be easily concluded.

Permit me to add—that the Ship Greenway Amos Oakman Master of Boston belonging to a Mr M. Bicker, was yesterday vessell & cargo condemned, by the court of Admiralty at Caraccas, but which sentence eer it is effectual must be confirm’d at Madrid, an other ship the Rooksby. Jones of Portsmouth N.H. is here also her fate not determin’d, they were taken in consort by a Spanish frigate & sent in here. They were bound from Bordeaux to St Thomas & probably the cargoes are French property. The vessells haveing seen them in Boston, the place of my residence, I doubt not are American—Oakman & Jones are still confin’d on board their Ships, nor have been suffer’d to communicate with any one—they personally suffer—led by humanity I attempted in passing the ship to speak the centinel level’d & cock’d his musket & had I not retir’d would doubtlessly have executed the orders given.3

There are about ten American vessels in this port several of which were about to proceed to the North of Europe with valueable freights. I have a ship with part of a freight on board for there what will be done I know not, copies of the foregoing I shall transmit Your Excellency by various routes, could I individually afford it, or knew wether the expence would be reimburs’d I would send a pass protected vessell with these communications, considering them of such import, the ne⟨mutilated⟩ & my freind whos veracity is undoubted ⟨mutilated⟩ Esqr. Consul to his B.M. assures me ⟨mutilated4 During my stay in Spain should ⟨mutilated⟩ of consequence transpire it shall be ⟨mutilated com⟩municated. The last posts bring acco⟨unts of the⟩ seige of Dunkirk being raised, & of so⟨mutilated⟩ the Spanish in Rousillon.5 The Fr⟨mutilated⟩ from hence in a few days on an exp⟨mutilated⟩ The American interest not being repr⟨sented⟩ makes the situation of its citizens somew⟨hat un⟩pleasant. I have the honor to be w⟨ith the⟩ most profound respect Your Excellency⟨s mutilated⟩ Obedient & Hum⟨mutilated

Nathl Ski⟨nner⟩

ALS, DNA: RG 76, Spain, Treaty, 27 Oct. 1795, Vol. 1. This letter was docketed in part, “recd 14 May.”

1Joseph Yznardi, Jr., had been confirmed as consul at Cadiz in February 1793, but he remained in America until March 1794.

2For discussion of the 12 Sept. truce, see David Humphreys to GW, 7 Oct., and n.1 to that document.

3The Greenway and Rooksby were brought into Cadiz on 20 Sept., having been taken by the Spanish frigate Santa Cathalinda. The two vessels remained at Cadiz as late as September 1795, when their repair and indemnification for their detention were addressed in Thomas Pinckney’s negotiations with Spain (New-Hampshire Gazette, and General Advertiser, 9 Nov. 1793; ASP, Foreign Relations description begins Walter Lowrie et al., eds. American State Papers. Documents, Legislative and Executive, of the Congress of the United States. 38 vols. Washington, D.C., Gales and Seaton, 1832–61. description ends , 1:539). Amos Oakman (1759–1805) resided at this time in Marshfield, and later in Lunenberg, Massachusetts. Martin Bicker (c.1746–1817) at this time kept a shop on Ann Street in Boston. Nathaniel Jones was master of the Rooksby.

4James Duff (1734–1815) was the British consul at Cadiz. He was made a baronet in 1813.

5The allied forces who had laid siege to Dunkirk in mid-August 1793 abandoned the siege and retreated toward Furnes on 8 September. Roussillon is a region of France bordering the East Pyrenees and the Gulf of Lion. The Spanish army moved into the region in the summer of 1793 and won a major victory at Truilla on 22 September.

Index Entries