James Madison Papers
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Relations with Algiers, [13 January] 1797

Relations with Algiers

[13 January 1797]

On 10 January the House had considered a motion that a committee be appointed “to select such parts of the confidential communication sent … by a message of the President of the United States” on 9 January “as in their opinion may, with propriety, be printed.” JM, Ames (Massachusetts), Sherburne (New Hampshire), Davenport (Connecticut), Livingston (New York), Grove (North Carolina), and Baldwin (Georgia) were appointed to the committee (JHR description begins Journal of the House of Representatives of the United States (9 vols.; Washington, 1826). description ends , 2:747).

Mr. Madison, from the committee to whom was referred the confidential communication received from the President of the United States a few days ago,1 gave notice that he had a report to make on the subject. The house and galleries were accordingly cleared.

Claypoole’s Am. Daily Advertiser, 16 Jan. 1797 (reprinted in Philadelphia Gazette, 17 Jan. 1797, Gales’s Independent Gazetteer, 17 Jan. 1797, Aurora General Advertiser, 23 Jan. 1797, Gazette of the U.S., 7 Feb. 1797, and American Senator, 2:28). The report was read and ordered to lie on the table (JHR description begins Journal of the House of Representatives of the United States (9 vols.; Washington, 1826). description ends , 2:747).

1On 9 Jan. Washington had sent a confidential message to both houses of Congress on relations with Algiers. He included documents from the state and treasury departments, which revealed that a decline in the value of 6 percent stock had led to a shortfall of $255,759.03 in the amount borrowed from the Bank of the United States to fulfill the terms of the treaty signed with Algiers on 5 Sept. 1795. Since the financial arrangements had been the most difficult aspect of the negotiations, the situation placed the treaty in jeopardy and threatened to expose American shipping in the Mediterranean to renewed seizures. After further debate behind closed doors on 17 Jan. and 13 and 14 Feb., the House resolved to appropriate additional sums for relations with Algiers, lifted its injunction of secrecy on 21 Feb., and published the documents. On 22 Feb. JM voted for a bill authorizing an appropriation to cover the costs of observing the treaty (ASP description begins American State Papers: Documents, Legislative and Executive, of the Congress of the United States … (38 vols.; Washington, 1832–61). description ends , Foreign Relations, 1:553–58; Annals of Congress description begins Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States … (42 vols.; Washington, 1834–56). description ends , 4th Cong., 2d sess., 2235, 2246; JHR description begins Journal of the House of Representatives of the United States (9 vols.; Washington, 1826). description ends , 2:747–49).

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