Thomas Jefferson Papers
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To Thomas Jefferson from Samuel Smith, 5 September 1801

From Samuel Smith

Balte. 5 Septr. 1801

Sir/

My Brother has Come up to Attend to his Business in Court. I first to meet him with the distressing Account of the Death of his Eldest son (a Charming Boy) his Distress is great, that of his family will be greater, he will of course be detained some time at home—

Our squadron had arrived—The Essex had gone to Tunis having under Convoy the ship for that Regency—The Philadelphia was seen Cruizing off Gibraltar. the Tripolitan Admiral & a Brig being in that Port, It is probable the President Could not have been far distant. I am sir/

With the greatest Respect your freind & servt

S. Smith

RC (DLC); endorsed by TJ as received 17 Sep. and so recorded in SJL.

On 2 July, Commodore Richard Dale wrote the secretary of the navy, informing him that the American squadron had arrived the previous day at Gibraltar. There, Dale found two armed Tripolitan vessels at anchor under the command of Peter Lisle, a Scotsman and deserter from the British navy who converted to Islam in 1794 and took the name Murad Rais. He was appointed admiral of the Tripolitan navy the following year. Queried by Dale, Murad declared that Tripoli was not at war with the United States. Sources on shore, however, led Dale to believe the opposite and that Murad was intent on capturing American merchant vessels. He therefore ordered the frigate Philadelphia to remain near Gibraltar and keep watch on Murad’s vessels, while the frigate Essex was directed to convoy the ship Grand Turk, which carried a cargo of regalia for the bey of Tunis, and the brig Hope, a Baltimore vessel bound for Trieste. The remainder of the American squadron, the frigate President and the schooner Enterprize, departed for Algiers on 4 July (NDBW description begins Dudley W. Knox, ed., Naval Documents Related to the United States Wars with the Barbary Powers, Washington, D.C., 1939–44, 6 vols. and Register of Officer Personnel and Ships’ Data, 1801–1807, Washington, D.C., 1945 description ends , 1:497–501; Madison, Papers, Sec. of State Ser. description begins J. C. A. Stagg, ed., The Papers of James Madison, Secretary of State Series, Charlottesville, 1986–, 8 vols. description ends , 1:160n). A copy of Dale’s letter was enclosed by John Gavino, the U.S. consul at Gibraltar, in his letter to the secretary of state of 4 July. It arrived at the State Department on 7 Sep., along with Gavino’s letter to the secretary of 18 July, which reported that the Philadelphia “was off this port” (Madison, Papers, Sec. of State Ser. description begins J. C. A. Stagg, ed., The Papers of James Madison, Secretary of State Series, Charlottesville, 1986–, 8 vols. description ends , 1:379–81, 441). Extracts from Gavino’s dispatches appeared in the National Intelligencer on 7 Sep.

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