Alexander Hamilton Papers
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To Alexander Hamilton from Rufus King, 6 August 1802

From Rufus King1

London August 6th. 1802

Dear Sir

I wrote to you two days ago2 by a private ship, as the Packet goes in a day or two I avail myself of the Opportunity to inform you that I have sent to the Secy of State my Resignation, and requested to be relieved in time to return home in April next. As there is reason to apprehend that we may be at war with all the barbary powers, as well as morocco I have asked for a Passage home in a Frigate or other public vessel; in case this accomodation be refused, I have decreed my Agent Mr Low3 to ingage & send me a vessel from New york.4

The grounds or reason of the morocco war is said to be our refusal to allow the morocco merchants & Govt. to supply Tripoli with corn;5 the same claim has been made & refused by our consul at Tunis,6 and may be followed by a similar Conduct as has been adopted by Morocco. Add to this, intelligence is just in (how authentic I am at present unable to determine) that two of our merchant ships have been carried into Algiers.7 This Regency is elated with the late success of its cruisers against the portuguese,8 and is likely to incur a formidable attack from France, which certainly has the prospect of embarking a powerful army in the Ports of Spain to attack and destroy Algiers!9

with sincere respect   yr’s &c

R King

I am going next week to Holland, thence thro the low Countries to Spa on my way to Paris where we shall spend four or six weeks & return at the meeting of Parliament in Novr. How happy shd. we be if you & Mrs. H. could be of our party. I shd. add that I have leave to make this Excursion.

ALS, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress.

1For background to this letter, see King to H, August 5, 1802.

3Nicholas Low, a New York City merchant and land speculator, had been a director of the Bank of New York and of the Society for Establishing Useful Manufactures. He was also director of the New York Office of Discount and Deposit of the Bank of the United States. From 1793 to 1801 he was supervisor of the revenue for New York.

4See King to James Madison, private letter of August 5, 1802 (King, The Life and Correspondence of Rufus King description begins Charles R. King, ed., The Life and Correspondence of Rufus King (New York, 1894–1900). description ends , IV, 156). See also Low to King, October 23, 1802 (King, The Life and Correspondence of Rufus King description begins Charles R. King, ed., The Life and Correspondence of Rufus King (New York, 1894–1900). description ends , IV, 200).

5When James Simpson, United States consul for the Kingdom of Morocco, refused to issue passports requested by the Emperor of Morocco for two Tripolitan vessels to carry cargoes of wheat from Gibraltar to Tripoli, which the United States was blockading, the Emperor on June 22, 1802, expelled Simpson and declared war on the United States. On July 26, 1802, the Emperor invited Simpson to return to his post, and peace was temporarily restored (ASP description begins American State Papers, Documents, Legislative and Executive, of the Congress of the United States (Washington, 1832–1861). description ends , Foreign Relations, II, 465, 466; Naval Documents, Barbary Powers, II description begins Naval Documents Related to the United States Wars With the Barbary Powers (Washington, 1940), II. description ends , 181–83, 184, 231).

6On April 26, 1802, William Eaton, United States consul for Tunis, wrote to James Cathcart, former United States consul to Tripoli, that he had refused “to countenance his [the Bey of Tunis] commercial intercourse with Tripoli.… I … forbade my secretary filling any more passports for Tunisian Cruisers” (Naval Documents, Barbary Powers, II description begins Naval Documents Related to the United States Wars With the Barbary Powers (Washington, 1940), II. description ends , 134).

8King is referring to the capture of the Cisne, a forty-four gun Portuguese frigate, by an Algerian vessel in May, 1802, while Algiers was at war with Portugal. See Naval Documents, Barbary Powers, II description begins Naval Documents Related to the United States Wars With the Barbary Powers (Washington, 1940), II. description ends , 155, 156, 163, 173, 180). 180).

9On September 8, 1802, Charles Pinckney, United States Minister Plenipotentiary to Spain, wrote to Madison: “… I am to inform you I have this day received intelligence from Algiers that France by sending some 74 Gun ships & other armed Vessels to that Place with a Plenipotentiary on board has forced the Dey to submit to such Terms as Bonaparte thought proper to prescribe … at the time the French Envoy demanded & the Dey was obliged to submit to these Terms, that the Envoy told him he was charged by Bonaparte to inform him, if ever Algiers committed the least outrage or in any degree insulted the flag or injured the commerce of France, he would erase his name from the list of nations” (ALS, RG 59, Despatches from United States Ministers to Spain, 1792–1906, Vol. 6, June 11, 1795-April 2, 1803, National Archives).

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