Thomas Jefferson Papers
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To Thomas Jefferson from John Lamb, 20 May 1787

From John Lamb

Alicante bay May 20th. 1787

I Received your Excellency’s letter concerning the Cyphers. The Vessel that I am in here, and bound to America, Doth not take pradick1 and all papers are so Defaced with Vinager, that it will be Imposible to get the Cypher sound, to hand’s where it is ordered. Therefore must Deliver the Same to Congress, whom can Dispose of the Same at their pleasure. I am unhappy that it is so surcomstanced: I hope by this time that your Excellency is fulley persuaded of that Vile Man De Expelley, whome I have often warned of before this. His letters have been too freely handed to your Excellency, and to Congress likewise, for the benefit of our peace at Algiers. I most Heartily hope Congress will not be led to thank a man whome was turned out of Algiers for the Most Atrosious crimes, and Sum cay Confined at presont, and I make no Doubt of the Truth of the same. If your Excellency can come at the Truth from Madrid, I am of opinion that you will think as I Do on the matter; I add that we have not had a wors Enemy than the above mention De Expelley. How far he Deceived Mr. Carmichael whilst he was holding him up to Our Publick’s Vew I cannot pretend to say. But if Mr. Carmichael was not Deceive in the Man, he had a Desine to baffle my efforts whilst on my Late Mission to make room for a more favourite plan. With news I can give your Excelency no lite at present, but that the number of our wretched people in Algiers are reduced by the Plague. Unhappy mess indeed. I have had a Verey Disagreable winter. But am Sumpthing Recruted. I hope to be at Congress by the beginning August nex. I am Exceedingly sorrey that Mr. Barkley missed me. That he had Authority to Settle my accounts he writes me. I Am Your Excellincys Most Hmle. Servt.,

John Lamb

RC (DLC); splotched in places by some liquid, perhaps “Vinager.” Tr (DNA: PCC, No. 107, ii). Enclosed in TJ to Jay, 21 June 1787, and printed in Dipl. Corr., 1783–89 description begins The Diplomatic Correspondence of the United States of America, from the Signing of the Definitive Treaty of Peace … to the Adoption of the Constitution, Washington, Blair & Rives, 1837, 3 vol. description ends , ii, 59–60, with some polishing of Lamb’s spelling and grammar. Enclosed in Robert Montgomery to TJ, 22 May 1787, which was recorded in SJL as received in Paris 16 June.

TJ’s Letter concerning the cyphers (missing) may have suggested that they be turned over to Carmichael; if so, this gives point to Lamb’s remark that Congress … can dispose of the same at their pleasure. (See TJ to Carmichael, 26 Dec. 1786.)

1In Tr this word is given as “prodick,” but “pratique” is inserted above it in an unidentified hand, perhaps by Weaver who printed it thus in Dipl. Corr., 1783–89 description begins The Diplomatic Correspondence of the United States of America, from the Signing of the Definitive Treaty of Peace … to the Adoption of the Constitution, Washington, Blair & Rives, 1837, 3 vol. description ends , ii, 59. Pratique, a maritime term signifying permission to communicate with a port after a vessel had been given a bill of health or had performed quarantine, was certainly what Lamb meant. If so, Lamb’s reason loses some of its force in view of the fact that, while being in quarantine and himself unable to go ashore, he nevertheless sent ashore the very letter in which the reason was offered (Montgomery to TJ, 22 May 1787). If he could do this, it is not clear why he could not also have dispatched the codes.

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