Thomas Jefferson Papers
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From Thomas Jefferson to Henry Dearborn, 9 August 1802

To Henry Dearborn

Monticello Aug. 9. 1802

Dear Sir

I inclose you some more resignations of militia commissions. I think we should do well in all cases to know that a commission will be accepted, before [. . .].

We have recieved information that the emperor of Marocco, having asked passports for two vessels loaded with wheat to go to Tripoli while blockaded by us, and being refused, has ordered away our Consul: this demand of his is so palpably against reason & the usage of nations as to bespeak a settled design of war against us, or a general determination to make common cause with any of the Barbary powers at war with us. I had just written him a friendly letter to accompany 100. gun carriages asked by him of the former administration. but the state of things is so changed that it will not be proper now to send these. we expect the Boston to return shortly. there will then remain there the Chesapeake, Constellation & Adams; of which we had thought of recalling one, as two were deemed sufficient for Tripoli. it is now a question whether we should not leave the three there, & whether we should send [another? and a] very important question is What is the nature of the orders which should be given to the commanders of our vessels in the Mediterranean with respect to Marocco? as circumstances look towards war, I have asked the opinions of the heads of departments on the preceding questions, and will beg the favor of yours by the return of post, as the Genl. Greene [will] probably be detained to carry our orders.

Accept assurances of my affectionate esteem & respect.

Th: Jefferson

P. S. will you be so good as to ask [. . .] of Simpson’s & Morris’s letters at the Navy [office]?

PrC (DLC); faint; at foot of text: “The Secretary at War.”

WE HAVE RECIEVED INFORMATION: for the dispatches received from James Simpson and Richard V. Morris, see TJ to Madison, 9 Aug.

WHEAT TO GO TO TRIPOLI: early in 1802, a Tripolitan ambassador in Morocco had requested and received a gift of wheat from Mawlay Sulayman, who also granted permission to load the cargo in Moroccan ports. Reporting these events in his dispatches from Tangier, James Simpson at first doubted that vessels could be chartered for Tripoli while that place was under blockade. The sultan, however, persisted in the plan. In May, Simpson reported that the sultan had ordered a Moroccan schooner to load wheat for Tripoli, and that a British brig had been chartered in Gibraltar for the same purpose. The motives behind the sultan’s generosity toward Tripoli were unclear to Simpson, who could not decide whether it was an act of charity toward fellow Muslims or “an aid in their present Contest” and an attempt by the sultan to “get quit” of the 1786 treaty with the United States. Later in the same month, Simpson and the Swedish consul, Peter Wyk, received word from the sultan’s chief minister, Muhammad Ibn Abd al-Salam al-Salawi, that if the wheat were permitted to ship with the departing Tripolitan ambassador as the property of the sultan, “it will be very well.” If not, Simpson and Wyk were to “do what is regular, and as is established by the Treaties of Peace” between their countries and Morocco. The 1786 treaty contained no provision for such a case, however, and Simpson reiterated his lack of authority to grant the requested passports. On 13 June, the governor of Tangier, Abd al-Rahman Ashash, informed Simpson that the sultan had directed the vessels carrying wheat to Tunis instead of Tripoli, much to Simpson’s relief. Writing James Madison the following day, the consul praised the sultan’s change of mind, “as by that means we get rid of what threatened to be a very unpleasant piece of busyness.” At the governor’s request, Simpson wrote the emperor to explain “the powerfull motives why I could not sanction Vessels going to Tripoly,” but that he was ready to grant “the usual Certificates” for Tunis (Madison, Papers, Sec. of State Ser description begins William T. Hutchinson, Robert A. Rutland, J. C. A. Stagg, and others, eds., The Papers of James Madison, Chicago and Charlottesville, 1962–, 33 vols. Sec. of State Ser., 1986–, 9 vols.; Pres. Ser., 1984–, 6 vols.; Ret. Ser., 2009–, 1 vol. description ends ., 2:379, 481; 3:50, 221–2, 278, 307; 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 , 2:66, 149; Mohamed El Mansour, Morocco in the Reign of Mawlay Sulayman [Wisbech, Eng., 1990], 12, 19–20, 50).

FRIENDLY LETTER: TJ to Mawlay Sulayman, Sultan of Morocco, [5 Aug.].

WE EXPECT THE BOSTON: on 13 July, Robert Smith had sent orders recalling Captain Daniel McNeill and the frigate Boston to Washington, where the vessel was to be placed in ordinary (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 , 2:201).

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