George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Nathaniel Skinner, 30 April 1794

From Nathaniel Skinner

Boston 30th April 1794


I had this honor, while at Cadiz, informing your Excellency relative to the Algerines.1 at last happily I am arrivd at my usual residence⟨,⟩ escaped from those pirates & feel tho it has been attended with a very heavy loss of property happy in being on that land of liberty oer which you preside.

The injury I suffer’d by being disposess’d of a freight of goods I had in the ship I own’d was great⟨,⟩ taken out without consent or recompense. this from Spaniards I did not feel so much, as they bear Americans little affection—But when on application to Wm Carmichael Esqr. at Madrid, to solicit for a permission (every day granted to the English) to reship some India goods I had with me for Gibralter, being originally destined for that market: I could not even hear from him after waiting two months I was more injur’d than by the Spaniards⟨,⟩ being finally obliged to run the risk of much property & what I held more dear the liberty of twelve persons. & I am not the only instance. there was another vessell situated as mine—& there are two more⟨,⟩ Ships Greenway & Rooksby ⟨illegible⟩d by the Spaniards that they do not chuse to adjudicate being now nine months in possession. months elapsed after their memorials were sent to Mr C. without a reply—& it is a well known thing each solicitation to him is treated with neglect.2

I do not attempt to injure Mr C. in the dark. I wrote to him that I should give notice of his conduct Even the British Consul at Cadiz, agent for us all ⟨four⟩ wrote pointing out the difficu[l]ties we suffer’d, but not a reply. No Consul then at Cadiz from America to aid in the large Commercial affairs of that place.3

Permit me to observe from the violent struggles in Morrocco for the Empire. there ports are all shut, which added to the effect the WISE measures adapted in this country will produce by & by the wish’d for Effect The ports of Sicilly are also Shut.4 When I left that Quarter provisions of all kinds were very scarce.

Will your Excellency pardon me for suggesting a hint. A public character will be wanting at Morrocco as soon as the present dispute is settled[.] their freindship will cost little & should there be a navy to secure access to such a commanding port as Tangier—just in the straits mouth.5

The wife & several concubines of the hereditary candidate were drove to sea—put into St Michaels in distress were releiv’d & furnishd with an American vessell there by the American consul. & it has made a pleasing & grateful impression on the Moors.6

In the quarter of the world where I have been American property has sustaind much injury.

Unused to court or public life Your Excellency will pardon my direct address if improper. the apology a love for the country tempted me first to write from Spain. I am with the highest sentiments of respect with the warmest wishes for your every happiness with daily prayers that you may long continue to guide & direct us Your Excellencys Most Obedient Most Humble Servt

Nathl Skinner

ALS, DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters. The docket reads, “recd 14 May.”

1Skinner’s letters to GW of 8 and 8–15 Oct. 1793, which he wrote at Cadiz, Spain, reported on the threat to American shipping from the Algerines and the detention of American vessels by Spanish authorities, including his own and the Greenway and Rooksby, mentioned below. For a list of American vessels detained at Spanish ports in October 1793, see “Ship News,” Dunlap and Claypoole’s American Daily Advertiser (Philadelphia), 20 Dec. 1793.

2According to one newspaper report, as of 17 Nov. 1793, the Rooksby, Greenway, and a large number of other American vessels, “all lately arrived,” were detained in Cadiz “and ordered to ride quarantine” because of the yellow fever epidemic in Philadelphia during the late summer and fall of 1793 (Independent Gazetteer [Philadelphia], 15 Feb. 1794). Another account reported that the Rooksby, Greenway, and five other American vessels departed Cadiz in November “with a Spanish 74, a frigate and a small convoy for the Havanna,” Cuba. This report came from the captain of one of the vessels in this convoy (Dunlap’s American Daily Advertiser [Philadelphia], 30 Jan.). For GW’s own frustration with U.S. commissioner William Carmichael, see GW to Thomas Jefferson, 23 Aug. 1792.

3James Duff was the British consul at Cadiz. Joseph Yznardi, Jr., was the designated American consul for Cadiz, but he did not arrive there until after Skinner’s departure (GW to the U.S. Senate, 19 Feb. 1793, and Skinner to GW, 8 Oct. 1793, and n.1 to that document).

4Skinner probably is referring to the thirty-day embargo of 26 March that was imposed on ships in U.S. ports and subsequently extended to 25 May (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 . 1:400–401).

5In 1796, James Simpson became the first U.S. consul assigned to Morocco (Senate Executive Journal description begins Journal of the Executive Proceedings of the Senate of the United States of America: From the commencement of the First, to the termination of the Nineteenth Congress. Vol. 1. Washington, D.C., 1828. description ends , 209). The Strait of Gibraltar connects the Atlantic Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea and separates Spain from Morocco.

6São Miguel, in the Atlantic Ocean, is the largest island in the Azores and is 740 miles west of Cape Roca, Portugal. John Street was the U.S. vice-consul for the Azores (GW to U.S. Senate, 2 Aug. 1790).

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