Thomas Jefferson Papers
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To Thomas Jefferson from John Adams, 23 May 1786

From John Adams

London May 23. 1786

Dear Sir

I am honoured with yours of the 11th. with the enclosures from Mr. Lamb, Mr. Carmichael and Mr. Barclay.

I am not surprized that Mr. Lamb has only discovered that our means are inadequate, without learning the Sum that would be Sufficient. Il faut marchander avec ces Gens la. They must be beaten down as low as possible. But We shall find at last the Terms very dear. The Algerines will never make Peace with us, untill We have Treaties finished with Constantinople, Tunis, Tripoli and Morocco. They always stand out the longest. Mr. Barclay will have no better fortune and I dont believe it worth while for him to wait a Moment to discover what sum will do.

I think with you, that it is best to desire Mr. Lamb immediately to return to Congress, and Mr. Randal too. It is Surprising that neither of them, has given Us more circumstantial Information, and that Mr. Randal has not come on to Paris and London. I think you will do well to write him to come forward without loss of time, and am glad You sent Copies of all the Letters to Mr. Jay. I concur with you entirely in the Propriety of your going on with the Comte de Merci, in the Negotiation and in transmitting to Congress the Plan you may agree upon, that they may Send a new Commission if they judge proper.

I have a Letter from Mr. Randal at Madrid 4. May, but shall not answer it as I wish you to write in behalf of both of Us to return immediately to Paris and London. I have a Letter too from Isaac Stephens at Algiers the 15. of April. He Says the Price is 6000 Dollars for a Master, 4000 for a Mate, and 1500 for each Sailor. The Dey will not abate a 6d., he Says and will not have any Thing to Say about Peace with America. He Says “The People” i.e. the Sailors as I suppose, are carrying Rocks and Timber on their backs for nine miles out of the Country, over sharp Rocks and Mountains, That he has an Iron round his Leg, &c. He begs that We would pay the Money for their Redemption, without sending to Congress, but this is impossible.

With great Regard I am sir your affectionate

John Adams

RC (DLC); endorsed. FC (MHi: AMT). Noted in SJL as received 19 June 1786.

In the letter from Mr. Randal at Madrid 4. May randall informed Adams that he should have written “long ’eer this since my Arrival from Algiers, But being in Expectation of bringing on Mr. Lamb’s Letters was entirely without Suspicion of many Impediments which retarded my business thus far. Mr. Lamb must undoubtedly have given your Excellencies the reasons of sending me from thence, and however repugnant to my Inclinations I must be necessitated to submit to his express Desire as he might otherwise have left it in a spanish Brigantine and have given me the Charge of his Vessel to convey me to Marseilles. I therefore preferred the Alternative of attending the Count D’Espilly’s Secretary in Hopes of obtaining an early Quarantine with himself. But by an unfortunate Concurrence of Circumstances I was detained two Days and obliged to go from Alicant. The vessel was arrived to Carthagena which was sent to perform her Quarantine. I endeavored to reach Madrid with all possible despatch after my Discharge. There I learned that Mr. Lamb is returned to Alicant with intention of coming to Madrid immediately… . I think myself bound and by the Opinion of Carmichael am determined to await the Arrival of Mr. Lamb and be governed by future Instructions and Circumstances. What Observations I have been enabled to make in my short Stay there shall be transmitted to your Excellencies by the first safe Occasion… .” (RC, MHi: AMT; addressed to Adams). The letter … from Isaac Stephens at Algiers the 15. of April, besides conveying the information set forth here, appealed to Adams as a fellow townsman: “Sir, I am American Born in the town of Braintree and a young family near Boston and by misfortunes in the War and at this time, I did not leave them in so agreeable a Situation to live without my help as I could wish them to have or even Comfortable for so long a time. But Blessed be God, I am Midling well as I hope these will find your Honour and Keep my Spirits up as well as can be expected with an Iron around my Legg and bearing all the insults from the Moors crying there goes American slave and the English not Behind in Comforts” (Tr in Smith’s hand, endorsed: “Copy of a Letter of 15th April 86 from Isaac Stephens at Algiers—Original sent to Congress May 24th 86”; MHi: AMT).

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