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William Carmichael to the American Commissioners, 3 Feb. 1786

Madrid 3d. Febry.. 1786.


On the 4th. of December last Mr. Lamb delivered me the Letter which your Excellencies did me the Honor to address me dated from London the 1st, & from Paris the 11th. of October–At the same Time that Gentleman communicated to me his Instructions, & I all the Intelligence I had been able to procure relative to the Negociation between this Country & the Regency of Algiers.

The Count D’Expilly whose Friendship I cultivated had returned to Algiers long before Mr. Lamb’s Arrival & a Secretary whom he had dispatched from that Place after his Return with Letters for the Minister had also set off for Alicant. From these Gentlemen I had obtained an Account of the State of the Negociation. The principal Articles proposed by Spain had been agreed to by the Dey & his Ministers: but as the former wished to include the Courts of Naples and Portugal in the Pacification, the Count de Florida Blanca had instructed the Count D’Expilly to prevail on the latter to admit & receive Ministers from these Courts, & was actually waiting the Answer from Algiers at the Period when Mr, Lamb came hither. It was evident to me that should this Proposition be accepted, of which I had no Doubt with Respect to the first mentioned Court, the Nomination & Voyage of these Ministers would occasion Delay & until the Treaty between Spain & the Regency should be concluded, I had reason to think that this Court would not interfere directly in our Favor. The Manner in which his Excy. the Count de Florida Blanca had explained his Sentiments to me on this Subject, induced me to form this Opinion. For as soon as I knew the probable Success of D’Expilly’s Negociation, I insinuated to the Minister how acceptable the good Offices of his Majesty to accommodate the States with the Barbary Powers would be to the People at large in America, & his Excellency then assured me that as soon as their own Affairs were arranged with Algiers, His Catholic Majesty would employ all his Influence to accelerate a Peace for the United [States?] that & the other Barbary States, & authorized me to inform Congress of the King’s Intentions. Having received these Assurances I engaged the Count D’Expilly to prepare by every favorable Insinuation the Dey’s Ministers & Favorites to support any Overture which might be made by the States, which he promised me to do & the Proofs of Confidence he gave me, induce me to rely on his Promises. He also engaged to give me the earliest Information with Respect to the Intentions of those People, and since his Return has proved by his Behavior to our Captives & his Correspondence with me, that he will avail himself of all the Means which he can employ with Propriety to fulfil his Promises. When Mr. Lamb arrived the Royal Family had just come to this Capital from Escurial & during its Residence here it is extremely difficult to have Access to the Minister. The King in a few Days after went to Aranjuez on a hunting Party & the Count de Florida Blanca accompanied him & none but the Family Ambassadors follow the Court on this Occasion. However as I was desirous to have a Conference with the Minister as soon as possible on the Subject of your Excellencies Letter, I wrote to the under Secretary in the Department of Foreign Affairs charged with the Correspondence to the United States, to know whether if I came to Aranjuez I should have an Opportunity of speaking with his Excellency to whom I wished to make a Communication in Person of some Advice I had received lately. No. 1. is a Copy of the Answer I recieved from that Gentleman. On the Return of his Majesty to this Capital I procured an Audience from the Minister to whom I communicated Mr. Lamb’s Arrival & the Object of his Mission, making Use of such Arguments & Insinuations as I thought most likely to induce his Excellency to contribute to its Success. I received from him the strongest Assurances to the same Purport as those beforementioned, at the same Time however he added, that until he should recieve further Advice from Algiers it was impossible for him to take an open Part in the Negociation & advised me to detain my Countryman until the Count went to the Pardo when he hoped to have it in his Power to give me a more explicit Answer. During this Audience I took an Occasion of mentioning without Affectation your Excellencies’ Sentiments with Respect to his generous Interference in the Affair of Morocco, with which he appeared much pleased & told me it should not be his Fault, nor did he think it would be mine if Spain and the United States were not as good Friends as they were near Neighbours in America. In the same Conversation he promised me ample Satisfaction on a Subject in which I had been obliged to have Recourse to him & I have since recieved it, His Majesty having been pleased to fine & render incapable of serving in the Revenue, the Governor of Laredo on a Complaint made to me by an American Captain of the unjust & arbitrary proceeding of the latter. All the Officers employed in this Affair by the Governor have been also punished.

I communicated to Messrs. Lamb & Randall what passed on this Occasion & these Gentlemen consented to wait without Reluctance here until the Period mentioned by the Minister.

Four Days after the Court had been fixed at the Pardo, I again waited on the Minister who recieved me very well, but on explaining the Motive of my Visit His Excellency declared to me that it was not in his Power to be more explicit as he had not yet recieved the Letters he expected from Algiers, that until he recieved the Intelligence he expected he could not order the Count D’Expilly to employ the King’s Interference in our Affairs, repeating his former Assurances & hinting the Obstacles we must expect to encounter in this negociation, at the same Time he observed to me that we must not be discouraged. He told me that the first Objection made by the Algerines would arise from our not having a Treaty with the Grand Seignior, as this Circumstance occasioned great Difficulties to Portugal in the actual Negociation. I intreated his Excellency to pardon my Importunity & Anxiety in this Subject as they proceeded as much from my Wish to cement an amicable Intercourse by reciprocal good Offices between the two Countries of Spain & America, as from my Apprehension that unless Mr Lamb should arrive at Algiers before their Cruisers were sent to Sea, further Hostilities on their Part might render an Accomodation still more difficult: I also urged the Nature of Mr. Lamb’s Instructions & the Necessity of Congress being early informed of the Disposition of the Regency, expressing a Hope that by the Time Mr. Lamb could arrive at a Sea-port & prepare for his Departure from thence it might be in his Excellency’s Power to afford him all the Assistance necessaary to ensure the Success of his Mission. To these Reflexions I added the Loss that would accrue to Spain from the Difficulties to which we should be exposed in our Intercourse with a Country whose Produce found a ready Sale in America & from which Country Spain could be supplied with so many Articles that it now takes from the Northern Nations of Europe, whose Consuls his Excellency knew did every Thing in their Power to obstruct the Peace which he was endeavouring to make for the commercial & political Interests [of a ?]Country the Councils of which he directed. The Count de Florida Blanca replied that he acquiesced in my Reasons for the Departure of Mr. Lamb & repeated to me and authorized me to write your Excellencies that “the Day after their own Affairs should be arranged with Algiers His Catholic Majesty would employ all his Influence to facilitate our Accomodations to which he added many Assurances of his Desire to give a Preference to the Commerce of the United States to that which Spain at present carried on with the Northern Part of Europe, particularly with Sweden & Denmark. The Freedom with which this Minister has spoken to me on several Occasions his Sentiments with Respect to the Northern Powers hath not less surprized than convinced me of his Wish to diminish their Commerce & Influence in the Mediterranean. In the Course of this Conversation he appealed to my own Experience on the Reliance that might be placed on his Word to which I made the proper Answer & Acknowledgments & concluded by asking Passports & Letters for Messrs. Lamb & Randall which his Excellency promised to send me. On my Return to this City from the Pardo I recieved Letters from Algiers of which No. 2 3. are Copies. They were brought by a Courier extraordinary & the Arrival of that Courier induced me to hope that the Minister might have recieved such Information as might enable him to act openly in our Favor, although in Fact this Hope arose more from my Wishes that such might be the Case, than from the Reasons which ought to induce a contrary Sentiment in Consequence of the Information which I had recieved with Respect to their Negociation previously. Your Excellencies will easily concieve that the first Efforts of this Court must be employed to procure a Peace for those Nations to which they are allied by the Ties of Family Connexions, Engagements, to which these Connexions have given Rise, and the Mutual Aids which they have recieved from these Nations during their late Operations against Algiers. However notwithstanding these Considerations, I took the Liberty [in] <of> reminding his Excellency the Count de Florida Blanca of the Passports & Letters he had promised me, to insinuate my Expectations of being able to obtain all that might be necessary for Mr. Lamb on his Arrival at Algiers. To this Application I recieved a Reply of which No. 5. is a Copy; as also a Letter to the Count de Cessalto, Captain General of Catalonia of which I also annex a Copy No. 6. as I do of the several Letters which, I have recieved from Algiers since the Arrival of Messrs. Lamb & Randall in Madrid.

The latter set off for Barcelona the 26th. ulto. in company of Mr. Harrison a native of Virginia who will have the Honor to deliver your Excellencies Letters from me. Mr. Lamb did not leave this until the first Inst. but as he travels Post he will arrive at Barcelona before the Gentleman abovementioned. I refer your ExceIlencies to the Account these Gentlemen may render you of my Conduct in this Business. I have procured Bills for Mr. Lamb on Barcelona for the Amount of which he has drawn agreeable to his Instructions. I have established a Credit for whatever he may chuse to draw. I have given him Letters to the Count D’Expilly & have given him all the Advice that I thought might be useful to him. On his Arrival at Algiers he will find Letters of Introduction to most of the Consuls employed by foreign Nations there from their Ministers at this Court. I did not chuse to expose his Mission to these Gentlemen until his Departure from Barcelona renders it public. Having rendered to your Excellencies an Account of my proceedings in Consequence of the Letter which you did me the Honor to address me by Mr. Lamb it may be necessary to add for your Information & that of Congress to which Body I take the Liberty of requesting you to forward a Copy of this Letter, that the Peace negociating at present between this Country and the Regency of Algiers will cost this Country near one million & a half of Dollars, & I beg Leave to add that my Information is so circumstantial & derived from such a Source as leaves me not the smallest Reason to doubt its Authenticity. The Dey of Algiers is now more than eighty Years old & his Ministers all press a Conclusion of the Treaty in Order that while they are in Power they may participate the Presents made on this Occasion. The Durability of this Peace is uncertain or of any other made in the present Moment with these Pirates. If I am rightly informed as soon as this Treaty is concluded with Spain and Naples, they mean to declare War against Denmark, the Venitians & perhaps the Dutch. I shall not fail to inform you of all I can learn on these Points, because there may be Circumstances on which may depend your future Instructions to Mr. Lamb & the Measures which Congress may think proper to adopt.

On the 30th. ulto. the Convention was signed by the Ambassadors of France & Portugal, respecting their Differences on the Coast of Africa. As I have not an accurate Map of that Coast before me I refer to a future Letter the Limits accorded by the latter for a free Trade to other Nations. Mutual Demands of Indemnification have been waved on each Part a mutual Expression of good Will & a Desire to be on the best Terms will appear in the Articles of this Convention in the Expression of which France preserves its Dignity. With the highest Sentiments of Gratitude for the Confidence your Excellencies have been [^] to accord me I have the Honor to be with great Respect & Regard / your Excellencies /most obedient & humble Servant

(signed)W Carmichael

PCC, No. 87, I.

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