Thomas Jefferson Papers
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To Thomas Jefferson from Robert Smith, 20 August 1802

From Robert Smith

Navy Dept: Augt. 20. 1802

Sir,

From the dispatches herewith sent you will perceive the state of our affairs in the Mediterranean. I am seriously apprehensive that Commodore Morris may not have considered himself authorised to retain the Boston and that, if he has retained her, he will not, with the addition of the New York, be able to protect our Citizens. The Enemys Coast is so extended that the dangers are great. And the taking of one Merchant Vessel would cost us more than would maintain two frigates. But considerations more powerful incline me to think that a further reinforcement of at least one frigate ought to be sent to Morris. I possess the funds to send her out. It was my intention to have explained myself at large upon this subject. But I have by continued interruptions, been prevented. The mail is just closing. My object in sending out this additional force is to prevent a Continuance of the War—that is to avail ourselves of the impression thereby produced in order to Obtain a favorable peace. Such a peace under the influence of such a force could be effected in the course of this year. With a less force the War may Continue for years which would be playing a hazardous game. The John Adams or the Congress could be equipped for Sea in two Weeks

The New York will be ready to depart next Week—The Gun Carriages will not be sent

With great respect & Esteem I am, Sir, Your Ob Ser

Rt Smith

RC (DLC); at foot of text: “The President”; endorsed by TJ as received from the Navy Department on 22 Aug. and “Marocco” and so recorded in SJL. Enclosures: (1) James Simpson to James Madison, Gibraltar, 26 June 1802, informing the secretary of state with regret that the governor of Tangier has compelled him to leave that place after receiving “positive orders” from the sultan of Morocco on 22 June, “accompanied with advice of his having declared War against the United States”; Simpson and Commodore Richard V. Morris have tried unsuccessfully to delay the expulsion of the American consul, hoping to convince the sultan of the impossibility of their allowing shipments of wheat to be sent to Tripoli; “But same Evening a Soldier arrived with the Emperours second Order for my quitting the Country immediately, in a state of War,” Simpson reports, “that is the best translation can be given of the Arabic Word used on the occasion”; making his declaration at a public audience on 19 June, the sultan directed that “the utmost expedition should be used” to prepare his cruisers for sea; Simpson is puzzled over the sultan’s decision to declare war over such a “trivial” matter; he will delay writing the sultan until the arrival of dispatches by the frigate Adams, “that I may not fall into the error of giving His Majesty room to hope for more, than I may be authorised by you to do”; Simpson will remain at Gibraltar and gather “information of what may happen in Barbary, respecting their sending out armed Boats, which is my chief fear”; the frigates at Rabat and the half galleys at Tetuán will not be ready for some time; Simpson trusts that his property remaining in Tangier is safe, due to his friendly relationship with the governor; he has entrusted his house and garden to the Spanish consul; Simpson also transmits the two other enclosures (RC in DNA: RG 59, CD; 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 ., 3:342–3, 507; 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 , 2:185–7). (2) Simpson to Madison, 17 June 1802 (see Enclosure No. 1 at TJ to Madison, 9 Aug.). (3) Simpson’s circular to U.S. consuls and commercial agents at the chief ports of Europe, Gibraltar, 25 June, informing the officials that he has been forced to leave Tangier, Morocco having declared war against the United States; requesting that all means be used to inform U.S. citizens and advise “all Masters of our Merchant Vessels to be very carefull to avoid the Moors Cruizers, especialy in & near the Straits of Gibraltar, where it is highly probable they will have many small armed Boats” (Tr in DNA: RG 59, CD; 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 , 2:183–4).

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