George Washington Papers

Enclosure: Thomas Jefferson’s Report on Morocco and Algiers, 14 December 1793


Thomas Jefferson’s Report on Morocco and Algiers

[Philadelphia] Dec. 14. 1793.1

The Secretary of State having duly examined into the Papers and documents of his Office relative to the negotiations proposed to be undertaken with the Governments of Morocco and Algiers, makes thereupon to the President of the United States, the following


The Reports which he made on the 28th of Decemr 1790, on the trade of the United States in the Mediterranean to the House of Representatives, and on the situation of their Citizens in captivity at Algiers to the President, having detailed the transactions of the United States with the Governments of Morocco & Algiers from the close of the late war to that date, he begs leave to refer to them for the state of things existing at that time.

On the 3d of March 1791, the Legislature passed an Act appropriating the sum of 20,000 Dollars, to the purpose of effecting a recognition of the Treaty of the United States with the new Emperor of Morocco,2 in consequence whereof Thomas Barclay, formerly Consul General for the United States in France was appointed to proceed to Morocco in the character of Consul for the United States, to obtain a recognition of the Treaty; and on the 13th of May in the same year the following Letter was written to him.

To Thomas Barclay Esqr.

Philadelphia May 13t. 1791.


You are appointed by the President of the United States to go to the Court of Morocco for the purpose of obtaining from the new Emperor a recognition of our Treaty with his father. As it is thought best that you should go in some definite character, that of Consul has been adopted, and you consequently receive a Commission as Consul for the United States, in the dominions of the Emperor of Morocco, which having been issued during the recess of the Senate, will of course expire at the end of their next session. It has been thought best however not to insert this limitation in the Commission as being unnecessary, and it might perhaps embarrass. Before the end of the next session of the Senate it is expected the objects of your mission will be accomplished.

Lisbon being the most convenient port of correspondence between us and Morocco, sufficient authority will be given to Col. Humphreys, Resident for the United States at that place, over funds in Amsterdam for the objects of your mission. On him therefore you will draw for the sums herein allowed, or such parts of them as shall be necessary. To that port too, you had better proceed in the first vessel which shall be going there, as it is expected you will get a ready passage from thence to Morocco.

On your arrival in Morocco, sound your ground, and know how things stand at present. Your former voyage there3 having put you in possession of the characters through whom this may be done, who may best be used for approaching the Emperor and effecting your purpose, you are left to use your own knowledge to the best advantage.

The object being merely to obtain an acknowledgment of the Treaty, we rely that you will be able to do this, giving very moderate presents. As the amount of these will be drawn into precedent on future similar repetitions of them, it becomes important. Our distance, our seclusion from the ancient world, its politics and usages, our agricultural occupations and habits, our poverty, and lastly our determination to prefer war in all cases to tribute under any form and to any people whatever, will furnish you with topics for opposing and refusing high or dishonoring pretensions, to which may be added the advantages their people will derive from our commerce, and their Sovereign from the duties laid on whatever we extract from that country

Keep us regularly informed of your proceedings and progress, by writing by every possible occasion, detailing to us particularly your conferences either private or public, and the persons with whom they are held—

We think that Francisco Chiappe has merited well of the United States, by his care of their peace & interests. He has sent an account of disbursements for us amounting to 394 Dollars. Do not recognize the account, because we are unwilling, by doing that, to give him a color for presenting larger ones hereafter, for expenses which it is impossible for us to scrutinize or controul. Let him understand that our Laws oppose the application of public money so informally; but in your presents, treat him handsomely, so as not only to cover this demand, but go beyond it with a liberality which may fix him deeply in our interests. The place he holds 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.

The Emperor has intimated that he expects an Ambassador from us. Let him understand that this may be a custom of the old world, but it is not ours: that we never sent an Ambassador to any Nation.

You are to be allowed from the day of your departure till your return 166._ dollars a month for your time and expenses, adding thereto your passage money and Sea stores going and coming.

Remain in your post till the 1st of April next, and as much longer as shall be necessary to accomplish the objects of your mission, unless you should receive instructions from hence to the contrary.

With your Commission you will receive a letter to the Emperor of Morocco, a Cypher & a letter to Col. Humphreys.4 I have the honor to be with great esteem &c:

Th: Jefferson—

A private instruction which Mr Barclay is to carry in his memory, and not on paper, lest it should come into improper hands—

We rely that you will obtain the friendship of the new Emperor, and his assurances that the treaty shall be faithfully observed, with as little expense as possible. But the sum of Ten thousand Dollars is fixed as the limit which all your donations together are not to exceed.

May 13th 1791 Th: Jefferson.

A Letter was at the same time written to Francisco Chiappe a person employed confidentially near the Emperor, who had been named Consul there for the United States by Mr Barclay on his former mission, and appeared to have acted with zeal for our interest. It was in these words.

To Francisco Chiappe.

Philadelphia, May 13th 1791.


Since my entrance into the Office of Secretary of State I have been honored with several of your letters, and should sooner have acknowledged the receipt of them, but that I have from time to time expected the present occasion would occur sooner than it has done.

I am authorized to express to you the satisfaction of the President at the zeal and attention you have shewn to our interests, and to hope a continuance of them.

Mr Barclay is sent in the character of Consul of the United States to present our respects to his Imperial Majesty, for whom he has a letter from the President. We have no doubt he will receive your aid as usual to impress the mind of the Emperor with a sense of our high respect and friendship for his person and character, and to dispose him to a cordial continuance of that good understanding so happily established with his father.

Our manner of thinking on all these subjects is so perfectly known to Mr Barclay, that nothing better can be done than to refer you to him for information on every subject which you might wish to enquire into. I am with great esteem, Sir &c:

Th: Jefferson—

To this was added a Letter to Col. Humphreys our Resident at Lisbon, through whom it was thought proper to require that the draughts of money should pass. It was in the following words.

To Col. David Humphreys.

Philadelphia, May 13th 1791.

Dear Sir

Mr Thomas Barclay is appointed by the President of the United States to go to Morocco in the character of Consul for the purpose of obtaining from the new Emperor a recognition of our treaty with his father.

Ten thousand dollars are appropriated for presents in such form and to such persons as Mr Barclay in his discretion shall think best; and he is to receive for himself at the rate of Two thousand dollars a year and his sea expenses.

It is thought best that the money for these purposes should be placed under your controul, and that Mr Barclay should draw on you for it. Thirty-two thousand one hundred and seventy-five Guilders current are accordingly lodged in the hands of our Bankers in Amsterdam, and they are instructed to answer your draughts to that amount, you notifying them that they are to be paid out of the fund of March 3d 1791, that this account may be kept clear of all others. You will arrange with Mr Barclay the manner of making his draughts so as to give yourself time for raising the money by the sale of your Bills.

A confidence in your discretion has induced me to avail the public of that, in the transaction of this business, and to recommend Mr Barclay to your counsel and assistance through the whole of it. I inclose you one Set of the Bills for 13,000 dollars before mentioned and a copy of my Letter to the Bankers.5 Duplicates will be sent to them directly. I have the honor to be, with great & sincere esteem Dear Sir, &c:

Th: Jefferson.

On Mr Barclay’s arrival in Europe he learned that the dominions of Morocco were involved in a general Civil war, the subject of which was the succession to the Throne, then in dispute between several of the Sons of the late Emperor: nor had any one of them such a preponderance as to ground a presumption that a recognition of the Treaty by him would ultimately be effectual. Mr Barclay therefore took measures for obtaining constant intelligence from that country, and in the mean time remained at Lisbon, Cadiz or Gibraltar, that he might be in readiness to take advantage of the first moments of the undisputed establishment of any one of the brothers on the Throne, to effect the objects of his mission.6

Tho’ not enabled at that time to proceed to the redemption of our captive Citizens at Algiers, yet we endeavoured to alleviate their distresses by confiding to Col. Humphreys the care of furnishing them a comfortable sustenance, as was done in the following letter to him.

To Col. David Humphreys.

Philadelphia, July 13th 1791.

Dear Sir

Mr Barclay having been detained longer than was expected, you will receive this, as well as my letter of May 13. from him. Since the date of that, I have received your No. 15. March 31. no. 16. April 8. no. 17. April 30. no. 18. May 3. and no. 20. May 21.7

You are not unacquainted with the situation of our captives at Algiers. Measures were taken and were long depending, for their redemption: during the time of their dependance we thought it would forward our success to take no notice of the captives; they were maintained by the Spanish Consul, from whom applications for reimbursement through Mr Carmichael often came; no answer of any kind was ever given. A certainty now that our measures for their redemption will not succeed renders it unnecessary for us to be so reserved on the subject and to continue to wear the appearance of neglecting them. Though the Government might have agreed to ransom at the lowest price admitted with any nation (as for instance, that of the French Order of Merci) they will not give any thing like the price which has been lately declared to be the lowest by the Captors. It remains then for us to see what other means are practicable for their recovery: in the mean time it is our desire, that the disbursements hitherto made for their subsistence by the Spanish Consul, or others be paid off, and that their future comfortable subsistence be provided for. As to past disbursements, I must beg the favor of you to write to Mr Carmichael, that you are authorized to pay them off, and pray him to let you know their amount, and to whom payments are due. With respect to future provision for the captives, I must put it into your hands. The impossibility of getting letters to or from Mr Carmichael, renders it improper for us to use that channel. As to the footing on which they are to be subsisted, the ration and cloathing of a soldier would have been a good measure, were it possible to apply it to articles of food and cloathing, so extremely different as those used at Algiers. The allowance heretofore made by the Spanish Consul, might perhaps furnish a better rule, as we have it from themselves that they were then comfortably subsisted. Should you be led to correspond with them at all, it had better be with Captain Obrian, who is a sensible man, and whose conduct since he has been there, has been particularly meritorious. It will be better for you to avoid saying any thing which may either increase or lessen their hopes of ransom. I write to our Bankers to answer your draughts for these purposes, and enclose you a duplicate to be forwarded with your first draught.8 The prisoners are fourteen in number—their names and qualities as follows—Richard Obrian, and Isaac Stephens Captains-Andrew Montgomery and Alexander Forsyth Mates-Jacob Tessanier a french passenger, William Paterson, Philip Sloan, Peleg Lorin, John Robertson, James Hall, James Cathcart, George Smith, John Gregory, & James Hermet, seamen. They have been twenty one or twenty two. I have the honor to be with great esteem, Dear Sir &c:

Th: Jefferson—

On the 8th of May 1792, the President proposed to the Senate the following questions.

If the President of the United States should conclude a Convention or Treaty with the Government of Algiers for the ransom of the thirteen Americans in captivity there, for a sum not exceeding forty thousand dollars, all expenses included, will the Senate approve the same? Or is there any, and what greater or lesser sum, which they would fix on as the limit beyond which they would not approve the ransom?

If the President of the Unites States should conclude a Treaty with the Government of Algiers for the establishment of peace with them at an expense not exceeding twenty five thousand dollars paid at the signature, and a like sum to be paid annually afterwards during the continuance of the Treaty, would the Senate approve the same? Or are there any greater or lesser sums which they would fix on as the limits beyond which they would not approve of such Treaty?

Go: Washington

These questions were answered by the following resolution of the Senate, of May 8th 1792.

In Senate. May 8th 1792

Resolved, That if the President of the United States shall conclude a Treaty with the Government of Algiers, for the establishment of a peace with them, at an expense not exceeding forty thousand dollars paid at the signature, and a sum not exceeding twenty five thousand dollars, to be paid annually afterwards, during the continuance of the treaty, the Senate will approve the same. And in case such treaty be concluded, and the President of the United States shall also conclude a Convention or Treaty with the Government of Algiers for the ransom of the thirteen American prisoners in captivity there, for a sum not exceeding forty thousand dollars, all expenses included, the Senate will also approve such Convention or Treaty.

Sam. A. Otis. Secy

In order to enable the President to effect the objects of this Resolution, the Legislature by their Act of May 8th 1792 C. 41 §. 3. appropriated a sum of fifty thousand dollars to defray any expence which might be incurred in relation to the intercourse between the United States and foreign Nations.9

Commissions were hereupon made out to Admiral Paul Jones for the objects of peace and ransom, and a third to be Consul for the United States at Algiers. And his instructions were conveyed in the following Letter.

To Admiral John Paul Jones

Philadela June 1. 1792.


The President of the United States having thought proper to appoint you Commissioner for treating with the Dey and Government of Algiers on the subjects of peace and ransom of our captives, I have the honor to inclose you the Commissions, of which Mr Thomas Pinckney now on his way to London as our minister plenipotentiary there, will be the bearer. Supposing that there exists a disposition to thwart our negotiations with the Algerines, and that this would be very practicable, we have thought it adviseable that the knowledge of this appointment should rest with the President, Mr Pinckney and myself: for which reason you will perceive that the Commissions are all in my own hand writing—for the same reason, entire secrecy is recommended to you, and that you so cover from the public your departure & destination as that they may not be conjectured or noticed; and at the same time that you set out after as short delay as your affairs will possibly permit.

In order to enable you to enter on this business with full information, it will be necessary to give you a history of what has passed.

On the 25 July 1785, the Schooner Maria, Capt. Stevens, belonging to a Mr Foster of Boston, was taken off Cape St. Vincents by an Algerine Cruiser; and five days afterwards, the Ship Dauphin, Capt. Obrian, belonging to Messrs Irvins of Philadelphia was taken by another about 50 leagues westward of Lisbon. These vessels with their Cargoes and Crews, twenty-one persons in number, were carried into Algiers. Mr John Lamb appointed Agent for treating of peace between the United States and the Government of Algiers, was ready to set out from France on that business, when Mr Adams and myself heard of these two captures. The ransom of prisoners, being a case not existing when our powers were prepared, no provision had been made for it. We thought however we ought to endeavor to ransom our countrymen, without waiting for orders; but at the same time, that, acting without authority, we should keep within the lowest price which had been given by any other nation. We therefore gave a supplementary instruction to Mr Lamb to ransom our Captives, if it could be done for 200 dollars a man, as we knew that three hundred French captives had been just ransomed by the Mathurins, at a price very little above this sum. He proceeded to Algiers: but his mission proved fruitless. He wrote us word from thence, that the Dey asked 59,496 dollars for the 21 Captives, and that it was not probable he would abate much from that price: but he never intimated an idea of agreeing to give it.10 As he has never settled the accounts of his mission, no further information has been received. It has been said that he entered into a positive stipulation with the Dey to pay for the prisoners the price above mentioned, or something near it; and that he came away with an assurance to return with the money.11 We cannot believe the fact true; and if it were, we disavow it totally, as far beyond his powers. We have never disavowed it formally, because it has never come to our knowledge with any degree of certainty.

In February 1787, I wrote to Congress to ask leave to employ the Mathurins of France in ransoming our captives, and on the 19th of Septemr I received their orders to do so, and to call for the money from our Bankers at Amsterdam as soon as it could be furnished. It was long before they could furnish the money, and, as soon as they notified that they could, the business was put into train by the General of the Mathurins, not with the appearance of acting for the United States or with their knowledge, but merely on the usual ground of charity. This expedient was rendered abortive by the Revolution of France, the derangement of ecclesiastical orders there, and the revocation of Church property, before any proposition perhaps had been made in form by the Mathurins to the Dey of Algiers.12

I have some reason to believe that Mr Eustace while in Spain endeavored to engage the Court of Spain to employ their Mathurins in this same business, but whether they actually moved in it or not, I have never learned—13

We have also been told that a Mr Simpson of Gibralter; by the direction of the Mres. Bulkleys of Lisbon, contracted for the ransom of our prisoners (then reduced by death and ransom to 14) at 34,792 28/38 dollars. By whose orders they did it we could never learn. I have suspected it was some association in London, which finding the prices far above their conception, did not go through with their purpose, which probably had been merely a philanthropic one: be this as it may, it was without our authority or knowledge.14

Again, Mr Cathalan, our Consul at Marseilles, without any instruction from the Government, and actuated merely, as we presume, by a willingness to do something agreeable, set on foot another negotiation for their redemption, which ended in nothing.15

These several volunteer interferences, though undertaken with good intentions, run directly counter to our plan; which was to avoid the appearance of any purpose on our part ever to ransom our Captives, and by that semblance of neglect, to reduce the demands of the Algerines to such a price as might make it hereafter less their interest to pursue our Citizens than any others. On the contrary they have supposed all these propositions, directly or indirectly, came from us: they inferred from thence the greatest anxiety on our part, where we had been endeavoring to make them suppose there was none; kept up their demands for our captives at the highest prices ever paid by any nation; and thus these charitable, though unauthorized interpositions, have had the double effect of lengthening the chains they were meant to break, and of making us at last set a much higher rate of ransom, for our Citizens present and future, than we probably should have obtained, if we had been left alone to do our own work, in our own way. Thus stands this business then at present. A formal bargain, as I am informed, being registered in the books of the former Dey, on the part of the Bulkeleys of Lisbon, which they suppose to be obligatory on us, but which is to be utterly disavowed, as having never been authorized by us, nor its source ever known to us—

In 1790 this subject was laid before Congress fully, and at the late session monies have been provided, and authority given to proceed to the ransom of our captive Citizens at Algiers, provided it shall not exceed a given sum, and provided also a peace shall be previously negociated within certain limits of expense. And in consequence of these proceedings your mission has been decided on by the President.

Since then no ransom is to take place without a peace you will of course first take up the negotiation of peace, or if you find it better that peace and ransom should be treated of together, you will take care that no agreement for the latter be concluded, unless the former be established before, or in the same instant.

As to the conditions, it is understood that no peace can be made with that Government but for a larger sum of money to be paid at once for the whole time of its duration, or for a smaller one to be annually paid. The former plan we entirely refuse, and adopt the latter. We have also understood that peace might be bought cheaper with naval Stores than with money: but we will not furnish them naval Stores, because we think it not right to furnish them means which we know they will employ to do wrong, and because there might be no economy in it, as to ourselves in the end, as it would increase the expense of that coercion which we may in future be obliged to practice towards them. The only question then is, what sum of money will we agree to pay them annually for peace?

By a Letter from Captain Obrian, a copy of which you receive herewith, we have his opinion that a peace could be purchased with money for £60,000 sterling, or with naval Stores for 100,000 Dollars. An annual payment equivalent to the first, would be £3,000 sterling, or 13,500 dollars, the interest of the sum in gross. If we could obtain it for as small a sum as the second in money, the annual payment equivalent to it would be 5,000 dollars. In another part of the same letter Capt. Obrian says “if maritime Stores, and two light cruisers given and a tribute paid in maritime stores every two years, amounting to 12,000 dollars in America,” a peace can be had.16 The gift of Stores and Cruizers here supposed, converted into an annual equivalent, may be stated at 9,000 dollars, and adding to it half the biennial sum, would make 15,000 dollars to be annually paid. You will of course use your best endeavours to get it at the lowest sum practicable, whereupon I shall only say, that we should be pleased with 10,000 dollars, contented with 15,000, think 20,000 a very hard bargain, yet go as far as 25,000. if it be impossible to get it for less; but not at a copper further, this being fixed by law as the utmost limit: these are meant as annual sums. If you can put off the first annual payment to the end of the first year, you may employ any sum not exceeding that in presents to be paid down: but if the first payment is to be made in hand, that and the presents cannot by law exceed 25,000 dollars.

And here we meet a difficulty, arising from the small degree of information we have respecting the Barbary States. Tunis is said to be tributary to Algiers; but whether the effect of this be that peace being made with Algiers, is of course with the Tunisians without separate treaty, or separate price, is what we know not. If it be possible to have it placed on this footing so much the better. At any event it will be necessary to stipulate with Algiers that her influence be interposed as strongly as possible with Tunis, whenever we shall proceed to treat with the latter; which cannot be till information of the event of your negociation, and another Session of Congress.

As to the articles and form of the Treaty in general, our treaty with Morocco was so well digested that I inclose you a copy of that to be the model with Algiers, as nearly as it can be obtained, only inserting the clause with respect to Tunis.

The ransom of the Captives is next to be considered. they are now thirteen in number, to wit Richard Obrian, and Isaac Stevens, Captains—Andrew Montgomery and Alexander Forsyth, Mates—Jacob Tessanier, a French passenger, William Patterson, Phillip Sloan, Peleg Lorin, James Hull, James Cathcart, George Smith, John Gregory, James Hermit, seamen. It has been a fixed principle with Congress to establish the rate of ransom of American captives with the Barbary States at as low a point as possible, that it may not be the interest of those States to go in quest of our Citizens in preference to those of other countries. Had it not been for the danger it would have brought on the residue of our Seamen, by exciting the cupidity of those rovers against them, our Citizens now in Algiers, would have been long ago redeemed without regard to price. The mere money for this particular redemption neither has been, nor is an object with any body here. It is from the same regard to the safety of our Seamen at large that they have now restrained us from any ransom unaccompanied with peace: this being secured, we are led to consent to terms of ransom, to which otherwise our Government would never have consented; that is to say, to the terms stated by Capt. Obrian in the following passage of the same Letter-“by giving the minister of the marine (the present Dey’s favorite) the sum of 1,000 Sequins. I would stake my life that we would be ransomed for 13,000 Sequins, and all expences included.” Extravagant as this sum is, we will, under the security of peace in future, go so far; not doubting at the same time that you will obtain it as much lower as possible, and not indeed without a hope that a lower ransom will be practicable from the assurances given us in other letters from Capt. Obrian, that prices are likely to be abated by the present Dey, and particularly with us, towards whom he has been represented as well disposed. You will consider this sum therefore, say 27,000 dollars, as your ultimate limit, including ransom, duties, and gratifications of every kind.

As soon as the ransom is completed, you will be pleased to have the Captives well cloathed, and sent home at the expense of the United States, with as much economy as will consist with their reasonable comfort.

It is thought best that Mr Pinckney, our minister at London should be the confidential channel of communication between us. He is enabled to answer your draughts for money within the limits before expressed: and as this will be by redrawing on Amsterdam, you must settle with him the number of days after sight; at which your Bills shall be payable in London so as to give him time, in the mean while, to draw the money from Amsterdam.

We shall be anxious to know as soon and as often as possible, your prospects in these negociations. You will receive herewith a cypher which will enable you to make them with safety. London and Lisbon (where Col. Humphreys will forward my letters) will be the safest and best ports of communication. I also inclose two separate Commissions for the objects of peace and ransom. To these is added a Commission to you as Consul for the United States at Algiers, on the possibility that it might be useful for you to remain there till the ratification of the treaties shall be returned from hence; though you are not to delay till their return, the sending the Captives home, nor the necessary payments of money within the limits before prescribed. Should you be willing to remain there, even after the completion of the business, as Consul for the United States, you will be free to do so, giving me notice, that no other nomination may be made. These Commissions, being issued during the recess of the Senate, are in force, by the Constitution, only till the next session of the Senate; but their renewal then is so much a matter of course, and of necessity, that you may consider that as certain, and proceed without interruption. I have not mentioned this in the Commissions, because it is in all cases surplusage, and because it might be difficult of explanation to those to whom you are addressed.

The allowance for all your expenses and time (exclusive of the ransom, price of peace, duties, presents, maintenance and transportation of the Captives) is at the rate of 2,000 dollars a year, to commence from the day on which you shall set out for Algiers, from whatever place you may take your departure. The particular objects of peace and ransom once out of the way, the 2000 dollars annually are to go in satisfaction of time, services, and expenses of every kind, whether you act as Consul or Commissioner.

As the duration of this peace cannot be counted on with certainty, and we look forward to the necessity of coercion by cruises on their coast, to be kept up during the whole of their cruising season, you will be pleased to inform yourself, as minutely as possible, of every circumstance which may influence or guide us in undertaking and conducting such an operation, making your communications by safe opportunities.

I must recommend to your particular notice Capt. Obrian, one of the Captives, from whom we have received a great deal of useful information. The zeal which he has displayed under the trying circumstances of his present situation has been very distinguished, you will find him intimately acquainted with the manner in which and characters with whom business is to be done there, and perhaps he may be an useful instrument to you, especially in the outset of your undertaking, which will require the utmost caution, and the best information. He will be able to give you the characters of the European Consuls there, tho’ you will probably not think it prudent to repose confidence in any of them.

Should you be able successfully to accomplish the objects of your mission in time to convey notice of it to us as early as possible during the next session of Congress, which meets in the beginning of November and rises the 4th of March, it would have a very pleasing effect. I am with great esteem &c:

Th: Jefferson—

Rough estimate not contained in the letter.

Peace 25,000 dollars.
Ransom 27,000.
Cloathg & Passge  1,000.
Negociator  2,000.
Sum allowed 50,000.

Mr Pinckney then going out as our Minister plenipo. to the Court of London, it was thought best to confide the Letter to him—to make him the channel of communication, and also to authorize him, if any circumstance should deprive us of the services of Admiral J. P. Jones, to commit the business to Mr Barclay, who it was hoped would by this time be completing the object of his mission to Morocco. The letter was therefore delivered to him, and the following one addressed to himself.

To Thomas Pinckney.

Philadelphia June 11th 1792

Dear Sir

The Letter I have addressed to Admiral Jones, of which you have had the perusal, has informed you of the mission with which the President has thought proper to charge him at Algiers, and how far your Agency is desired for conveying to him the several papers, for receiving and paying his draughts to the amount therein permitted, by redrawing yourself on our Bankers in Amsterdam, who are instructed to honor your Bills, and by acting as a channel of correspondence between us. It is some time however since we have heard of Admiral Jones. Should any accident have happened to his life, or should you be unable to learn where he is, or should distance, refusal to act or any other circumstance deprive us of his services on this occasion, or be likely to produce too great a delay, of which you are to be the judge, you will then be pleased to send all the papers confided to you for him, to Mr Thomas Barclay our Consul at Morocco, with the letter addressed to him, which is delivered you open, and by which you will perceive that he is, in that event, substituted to every intent and purpose in the place of Admiral Jones. You will be pleased not to pass any of the papers confided to you on this business through any post Office. I have the honor to be &c:

Th: Jefferson.

The Letter mentioned as addressed to Mr Barclay was in these words.

From the President of the United States to Thomas Barclay Esq.

Philadelphia, June 11th 1792.


Congress having furnished me with means for procuring peace, and ransoming our captive Citizens from the Government of Algiers, I have thought it best, while you are engaged at Morocco, to appoint Admiral Jones to proceed to Algiers, and therefore have sent him a Commission for establishing peace, another for the ransom of our Captives, and a third to act there as Consul for the United States, and full instructions are given in a Letter from the Secretary of State to him, of all which papers, Mr Pinckney, now proceeding to London as our Minister plenipotentiary there, is the bearer, as he is also of this Letter. It is some time however since we have heard of Admiral Jones, and as, in the event of any accident to him, it might occasion an injurious delay, were the business to await new Commissions from hence, I have thought it best, in such an event, that Mr Pinckney should forward to you all the papers addressed to Admiral Jones, with this Letter, signed by myself, giving you authority on receipt of those papers to consider them as addressed to you, and to proceed under them in every respect as if your name stood in each of them in the place of that of John Paul Jones. You will of course finish the business of your mission to Morocco with all the dispatch practicable, and then proceed to Algiers on that hereby confided to you, where this Letter with the Commissions addressed to Admiral Jones, and an explanation of circumstances, will doubtless procure you credit as acting in the name and on the behalf of the United States, and more especially when you shall efficaciously prove your authority by the fact of making, on the spot, the payments you shall stipulate. With full confidence in the prudence and integrity with which you will fulfil the objects of the present mission, I give to this Letter the effect of a Commission and full powers, by hereto subscribing my name this Eleventh day of June, One thousand seven hundred and ninety two.

Go. Was’hington

By a Letter of July 3d the following arrangements for the payment of the monies was communicated to Mr Pinckney, to wit.

To Thomas Pinckney Esqr.

Philadelphia, July 3d 1792.

Dear Sir

Enclosed is a letter to our Bankers in Amsterdam, covering a Bill of Exchange drawn on them by the Treasurer for one hundred and twenty-three thousand seven hundred and fifty current Guilders which I have endorsed thus—“Philadelphia, July 3d 1792. enter this to the credit of the Secretary of State for the United States of America. Th: Jefferson” 17—to prevent the danger of interception: my letter to them makes the whole, subject to your order. I have the honor &c:

Th. Jefferson.

On Mr Pinckney’s arrival in England he learned the death of Admiral J. P. Jones. The delays which were incurred in conveying the papers to Mr Barclay on this event will be best explained in Mr Pinckney’s own words extracted from his letter of December 13th 1792, to the Secretary of State. They are as follows:

As soon after my arrival here as the death of Admiral J. P. Jones was ascertained I endeavored to obtain information whether Mr Barclay was still at Gibralter, or had returned to Morocco; but not knowing his correspondent here, and Mr Johnson our Consul not being able to clear up the uncertainty it was some time before I learnt that he was still at Gibralter—the particular injunctions of caution in the conveyance which I received with Mr Barclay’s dispatches, and the secrecy which I knew to be so essential to the success of his operations determined me to intrust them to none but a confidential person—I accordingly endeavored to find some one of our countrymen (who are frequently here without much business) who might be induced to undertake the conveyance; but tho’ in addition to my own enquiries, I requested our Consul and several American Gentlemen to endeavor to procure a confidential person to undertake a journey for me without naming the direction, it was a considerable time before I met with success—the rage for quitting the City which emptied all the western parts of this town during the summer months seemed to have swept away all our unemployed Countrymen, and the failure of Mr Short’s dispatches for which I could not account, the miscarriage of some of my private letters, added to the extraordinary jealousy and watchfulness of correspondences here, made me unwilling to employ any but an American in this business. At length however I prevailed on a Mr Lemuel Cravath a native and Citizen of Massachusetts to undertake the delivery of the dispatches into Mr Barclay’s hand, whether at Gibralter or Morocco, and to remain a few weeks with Mr Barclay if he should require it to reconvey his answer; for which service I agreed to pay him One hundred Guineas, besides defraying his expenses.18 No vessel for Gibralter or any neighboring port offered immediately, but Mr Cravath availed himself of the first which occurred, and embarked about a month ago in an English vessel bound to Cales, from whence he may readily get to Gibralter: so that if the wind has proved favorable Mr B. may by this time have set out on his mission. I fear the terms of Mr Cravath’s journey will be considered as expensive, but when I reflected on the importance of the object & the delay which had already occasioned me so much uneasiness I would undoubtedly have given much more had he insisted on it. I trust however that Mr Barclay could not have arrived at a better time at his place of destination to avoid interruption in his negotiations from the European powers as their attention is now wholly engrossed by the more interesting theatre of politics in Europe.

In the mean time Mr Barclay had been urged to use expedition by the following letter, from hence.

To Thomas Barclay.

Philadelphia, Novr 14th 1792.


Your Letters to the 10th of September are received. Before this reaches you, some papers will have been sent to you, which on the supposition that you were engaged in your original mission were directed to Admiral J. P. Jones, but in the event of his death were to be delivered to you. That event happened. The papers will have so fully possessed you of every thing relating to the subject, that I have nothing now to add, but the most pressing instances to lose no time in effecting the object. In the mean while the scene of your original mission will perhaps be cleared, so that you may then return and accomplish that. I am, &c:

Th: Jefferson.

Mr Barclay had received the papers, had made preparations for his departure for Algiers, but was taken ill on the 15th and died on the 19 th of January 1793, at Lisbon. This unfortunate event was known here on the 18th of March, and on the 20th and 21st the following letters were written to Mr Pinckney & Col. Humphreys.

To Thomas Pinckney Esq.

Philadelphia, March 20th 1793.

Dear Sir

The death of Mr Barclay having rendered it necessary to appoint some other person to proceed to Algiers on the business of peace and ransom, the President has thought proper to appoint Col. Humphreys, and to send on Captain Nathaniel Cutting to him in the character of Secretary, and to be the bearer of the papers to him. I am to ask the favor of you to communicate to Col. Humphreys whatever information you may be able to give him in this business, in consequence of the Agency you have had in it. I have given him authority to draw in his own name on our Bankers in Amsterdam for the money deposited in their hands for this purpose according to the Letter I had the honor of writing to you July 3d. 1792. I have now that of assuring you of the sincere sentiments of esteem and respect, with which I am &c:

Th: Jefferson.

To Col. David Humphreys.

Philadelphia, March 21st 1793.


The deaths of Admiral Paul Jones first, and afterwards of Mr Barclay, to whom the mission to Algiers explained in the inclosed papers was successively confided, have led the President to desire you to undertake the execution of it in person. These papers, being copies of what had been delivered to them will serve as your guide. But Mr Barclay having also been charged with a mission to Morocco, it will be necessary to give you some trouble with respect to that also.

Mr Nathaniel Cutting the bearer hereof, is dispatched specially, first to receive from Mr Pinckney in London any papers or information, which his Agency in the Algerine business may have enabled him to communicate to you. He will then proceed to deliver the whole to you, and accompany and aid you in the character of Secretary.

It is thought necessary that you should, in the first instance settle Mr Barclay’s accounts respecting the Morocco mission, which will probably render it necessary that you should go to Gibralter. The communications you have had with Mr Barclay in this mission will assist you in your endeavors at a settlement. You know the sum received by Mr Barclay on that account and we wish as exact a statement as can be made of the manner in which it has been laid out, and what part of it’s proceeds are now on hand. You will be pleased to make an Inventory of these proceeds now existing. If they or any part of them can be used for the Algerine mission, we would have you by all means apply them to that use, debiting the Algerine fund, and crediting that of Morocco with the amount of such application. If they cannot be so used, then dispose of the perishable articles to the best advantage, and if you can sell those not perishable for what they cost, do so, and what you cannot so sell, deposite in any safe place under your own power. In this last stage of the business return us an exact account 1st of the specific articles remaining on hand for that mission, and their value. 2d of its cash on hand. 3d of any money which may be due to or from Mr Barclay or any other person on account of this mission, and take measures for replacing the clear balance of Cash in the hands of Messrs W. & T. Willinks and Nichs & Jacob van Staphorsts and Hubbard.

This matter being settled, you will be pleased to proceed on the mission to Algiers. This you will do by the way of Madrid, if you think any information you can get from Mr Carmichael, or any other may be an equivalent for the trouble, expense and delay of the journey. If not, proceed in whatever other way you please to Algiers.

Proper powers and Credentials for you addressed to that Government are herewith enclosed—The instructions first given to Admiral Paul Jones are so full that no others need be added, except a qualification in one single article, to wit: Should that Government finally reject peace on the terms in money, to which you are authorized to go, you may offer to make the first payments for peace and that for ransom in naval Stores, reserving the right to make the subsequent annual payments in money.

You are to be allowed your travelling expenses, your Salary as minister Resident in Portugal going on. Those expenses must be debited to the Algerine mission, and not carried into your ordinary account as Resident. Mr Cutting is allowed one hundred dollars a month, and his expenses, which as soon as he joins you, will of course be consolidated with yours. We have made choice of him as particularly qualified to aid under your direction in the matters of account, with which he is well acquainted. He receives here an advance of one thousand dollars by a draught on our Bankers in Holland in whose hands the fund is deposited. This and all other sums furnished him to be debited to the Algerine fund. I inclose you a Letter to our Bankers giving you complete authority over these funds, which you had better send with your first draught, though I send a copy of it from hence by another opportunity.19

This business being done, you will be pleased to return to Lisbon, and to keep yourself and us thereafter well informed of the transactions in Morocco, and as soon as you shall find that the succession to that Government is settled and stable so that we may know to whom a Commissioner may be addressed, be so good as to give us the information that we may take measures in consequence. I am &c:

Th: Jefferson

Captain Nathaniel Cutting was appointed to be the Bearer of these Letters and to accompany and assist Col. Humphreys as Secretary in this mission. It was therefore delivered to him, and his own Instructions were given in the following Letter.

To Captain Nathaniel Cutting.

Philadelphia, March 31st 1793.


The Department of State with the approbation of the President of the United States, having confidential communications for Mr Pinckney, our Minister plenipoy at London, and Col. Humphreys, our Minister Resident at Lisbon, and further services to be preformed with the latter—you are desired to take charge of those communications, to proceed with them in the first American vessel bound to London, and from thence without delay, to Lisbon in such way as you shall find best. After your arrival there, you are appointed to assist Col. Humphreys in the character of Secretary, in the business now specially confided to him, and that being accomplished, you will return directly to the United States, or receive your discharge from Col. Humphreys, at your own option. You are to receive, in consideration of these services, one hundred dollars a month, besides the reasonable expences of travelling by land and sea (apparel not included) of yourself and a servant: of which expenses you are to render an account and receive payment from Col. Humphreys, if you take your discharge from him, or otherwise from the Secretary of State if you return to this place: and in either case Col. Humphreys is authorized to furnish you monies on account within the limits of your allowances: which allowances are understood to have begun on the 20th day of the present month, when you were engaged on this service, and to continue until your discharge or return. You receive here One thousand dollars on account, to enable you to proceed.

Th: Jefferson, Secretary of State.

But by a vessel which sailed on the day before from this port to Lisbon directly, and whose departure was not known till an hour before, the following Letter was hastily written and sent.

To Col. David Humphreys.

Philadelphia, March 30th 1793.

Dear Sir

Having very short notice of a vessel just sailing from this port for Lisbon, direct, I think it proper to inform you summarily that powers are made out for you to proceed and execute the Algerine business committed to Mr Barclay. Capt. Cutting who is to assist you in this special business as Secretary, leaves this place three days hence, and will proceed in the British packet by the way of London, and thence to Lisbon where he will deliver you the papers. The instructions to you are in general to settle Mr B’s Morocco account and take care of the effects provided for that business, applying such of them as are proper to the Algerine mission, and as to the residue converting the perishable part of it into cash, and having the other part safely kept. You will be pleased therefore to be preparing and doing in this what can be done before the arrival of Mr Cutting, that there may be as little delay as possible. I am &c:

Th: Jefferson.

Captain Cutting took his passage in a vessel bound for London which sailed about the 13th or 14th of April, but he did not leave England till the 3d of September, and on the 17th of that month Col. Humphreys embarked from Lisbon for Gibraltar, from whence he wrote the Letter herewith communicated, of October the 8th last past informing us of the truce of a year concluded between Algiers and Portugal, and from whence he was to proceed to Algiers.20

These are the circumstances which have taken place since the date of the former reports of December 28th 1790. and on consideration of them it cannot but be obvious that whatever expectations might have been formed of the issue of the mission to Algiers at it’s first projection, or the subsequent renewals to which unfortunate events gave occasion, they must now be greatly diminished, if not entirely abandoned. While the truce with two such commercial Nations as Portugal and Holland has so much lessened the number of vessels exposed to the capture of these Corsairs, it has opened the door which lets them out upon our commerce and ours alone; as with the other nations navigating the Atlantic they are at peace. Their first successes will probably give them high expectations of future advantage, and leave them little disposed to relinquish them on any terms.

A circumstance to be mentioned here is that our Resident and Consul at Lisbon have thought instantaneous warning to our commerce to be on it’s guard, of sufficient importance to justify the hiring a Swedish vessel to come here express with the intelligence; and there is no fund out of which that hire can be paid.21

To these details relative to Algiers it is to be added as to Morocco, that their internal war continues, that the succession is not likely soon to be settled, and that in the mean time their vessels have gone into such a state of decay as to leave our commerce in no present danger for want of the recognition of our treaty: but that still it will be important to be in readiness to obtain it the first moment that any person shall be so established in that Government as to give a hope that his recognition will be valid.

Th: Jefferson

DS, DNA: RG 46, Third Congress, 1793–95, Senate Records of Executive Proceedings, President’s Messages—Foreign Relations; ADf, DLC: Jefferson Papers; Copy, DNA: RG 233, Third Congress, 1793–95, House Records of the Office of the Clerk, Records of Reports from Executive Departments.

For the genesis of this report, see Bartholomew Dandridge, Jr., to Jefferson, 11 December. Despite the date on the report, Jefferson evidently sent it to GW on 15 Dec. (see Jefferson to GW, 14 Dec.). On 22 Dec. Jefferson received additional letters regarding Algiers and Morocco, which he submitted to GW the next day (see Dandridge to Jefferson, 23 Dec.). GW sent those letters to the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives on 23 December.

1The date is with the signature on the document and in Jefferson’s writing.

2The first three lines of this paragraph are indented and a citation is placed in the space created: “1791 Mar. 3 Act C. 17.” The correct citation would have been to chapter 16 (Stat. description begins Richard Peters, ed. The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America, from the Organization of the Government in 1789, to March 3, 1845 . . .. 8 vols. Boston, 1845-67. description ends , 1:214). For the treaty with Morocco of 28 June and 15 July 1786, see Miller, Treaties description begins Hunter Miller, ed. Treaties and Other International Acts of the United States of America. Vol. 2, 1776-1818. Washington, D.C., 1931. description ends , 185–227. On the death of Sultan Sidi Muhammed and succession of his son Yazid Ibn Muhammed (1748–1792), see Giuseppe Chiappe to GW, 13 May 1790, and n.1 to that document.

3Barclay negotiated the 1786 Moroccan treaty.

4See GW to the Emperor of Morocco, 31 March 1791. A copy of Jefferson’s letter to David Humphreys of 13 May 1791 is part of this report.

5See Jefferson to Willink, Van Staphorst, & Hubbard, 13 May 1791 (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 , 20:407).

6Barclay’s dispatches to Jefferson of 18, 26, and 31 Dec. 1791; 16 and 30 Jan.; 23 and 24 Feb.; 1, 16, and 31 March; 10 and 15 April; 7, 10, and 17 May; 12 June; 13 and 31 July; 22 Aug.; 8 Sept.; 1 and 26 Oct.; 20 Nov.; and 17 and 19 Dec. 1792 describe the chaotic situation in Morocco that prevented his entering that country to undertake his mission (DNA: RG 59, Consular Despatches, Gibraltar; DNA: RG 59, Consular Despatches, Cadiz; abstracts in 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 , 22:416–18, 447–48, 471; 23:46–47, 88–89, 144–45, 174, 285–86, 356–57, 391–92, 426–27, 485–86, 490, 519–20; 24:67–68, 224–25, 269–70, 312–13, 345–46, 430, 534, 643, 749, 756. Barclay was writing from Cadiz beginning with his letter of 26 Oct. 1792).

Sultan Yazid’s rule was challenged actively by his brother “Muley Ischem” (Hisham Ibn Muhammed; d. 1799) and more passively by his brother “Muley Slema” (Maslama Ibn Muhammed). After Yazid’s death in February 1792, a third brother, “Muley Suliman” (Mawlay Sulayman Ibn Muhammed, 1766– 1822), emerged as another strong contestant. Meanwhile other brothers were mentioned as possible rulers, some regions asserted autonomy, and consideration was given to selecting an emperor from outside the ruling family. By 1795 Mawlay Sulayman had emerged as the new sultan, and his letter to GW of 18 Aug. 1795 was transmitted to the Senate on 21 Dec. 1795 as a recognition of the treaty.

7These letters are abstracted in 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 , 19:643–44; 20:168–69, 327, 361–62, 474–76.

8See Jefferson to Willink, Van Staphorst & Hubbard, 13 July (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 , 20:626–27).

9See “An Act making certain appropriations therein specified,” 8 May 1792 (Stat. description begins Richard Peters, ed. The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America, from the Organization of the Government in 1789, to March 3, 1845 . . .. 8 vols. Boston, 1845-67. description ends , 1:284–85).

10See Supplementary Instructions to John Lamb, 1–11 Oct. 1785, and Lamb to the American Commissioners, 20 May 1786, (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 , 8:616–17; 9:549–54). For more on the capture of the two ships and the fate of their crews, see Mathew Irwin to GW, 9 July 1789, and enclosure. John Lamb, a ship’s captain and merchant from Norwich, Conn., was appointed by Congress in February 1785 to negotiate with the Barbary powers. He arrived at Paris in September 1785, but did not reach Algiers until March 1786.

12Jefferson requested authority in his letter to John Jay of 1 Feb. 1787, and Congress resolved on 18 July to grant it, which resolution was enclosed in Jay’s letter to Jefferson of 24 July (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 , 11:99–103, 618–20; JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds. Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789. 34 vols. Washington, D.C., 1904–37. description ends , 32:364–65). Jefferson evidently had received the authority by 18 Sept. 1787 (see Jefferson to the Commissioners of the Treasury, that date, 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 , 12:149).

13In July 1789 John Skey Eustace wrote the Rev. Jacques Audibert, de la Merci, Procureur général des Captifs, à Bordeaux, to ask about the role of his order in redeeming and giving aid to captives at Algiers and about the relationship between the French and Spanish branches of the Order of Mercy. Upon receiving Audibert’s response, Eustace wrote Congress to suggest that the Spanish order be employed to negotiate for the captives (see Eustace to Jay, 15 July 1789, and enclosures, DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters, filed at 1 Jan. 1791).

14On this effort, see James Simpson to GW, 25 Aug. 1790.

15Stephen Cathalan, Jr. (d. 1819), was appointed as vice-consul for Marseilles in June 1790 and served until his death. He described his negotiation in an enclosure to his letter to Jefferson of 22 Jan. 1791 (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 , 18:585–91).

16See Richard O’Bryen to Cathalan, 27 Sept. 1791, DLC: Jefferson Papers.

17See Jefferson to Willink, Van Staphorst & Hubbard, 3 July 1792 (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 , 24:157).

18Lemuel Cravath (c.1746–1815) was a merchant at Boston and, for a time, Baltimore.

19See Jefferson to Willink, Van Staphorst & Hubbard, 20 March (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 , 25:413–14).

20A copy of Humphreys’s letter to Jefferson of 8 Oct. is filed with this report, along with copies of Humphreys to Jefferson, 26 Sept., and Edward Church to Jefferson, 12 Oct., on the latter of which is Jefferson’s undated note that the “preceding letters are true copies from those remaining in the office of this department.” For the original texts of these letters, see 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 , 27:152–53, 222–23, 230–35.

21See Humphreys to Jefferson, 6 and 7 Oct., and Church to Jefferson, 12 Oct., 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 , 27:196–200, 230–35. About payment of the Maria, the snow that Church had chartered for £800 sterling, see Jefferson to Alexander Hamilton, 12 Dec., and Hamilton to John Lamb, 16 Dec., Hamilton Papers description begins Harold C. Syrett et al., eds. The Papers of Alexander Hamilton. 27 vols. New York, 1961–87. description ends , 15:456–57, 460.

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