From Thomas Jefferson
Philadelphia Dec. 12. 1793.
Colo. Humphries1 having charged mr Church our Consul at Lisbon to send us information of the truce between Algiers & Portugal by an Express vessel, he engaged one under Swedish colours to come here with his letters.2 She is now lying at New York at our expence. Thinking it material to save as much of the expence as we can, by permitting her to be freighted back to Lisbon to which place she is to return, I mentioned to the President that the officer at the head of the customs at New York3 would be the most proper person to take charge of her. It is with his approbation that I inclose you the the Charter-party, stating the terms on which she has been engaged;4 with a desire that you will give the necessary orders to that officer to do with the vessel what is best for the public interests.
I have the honor to be with great respect Sir Your most obedt servt
The Secretary of the Treasury
ALS, letterpress copy, Thomas Jefferson Papers, Library of Congress; LC, RG 59, Domestic Letters of the Department of State, Vol. V, February 4, 1792–December 31, 1793, National Archives.
1. David Humphreys, United States Minister Resident in Portugal, had been appointed in March, 1793, to secure a settlement of United States difficulties with the Barbary Powers, particularly in regard to the American seamen held captive in Algiers.
2. On October 11, 1793, Edward Church had received a letter from Humphreys, who was at Gibraltar awaiting an opportunity to go to Algiers, stating that a truce had been signed between Portugal and Algiers (ASP description begins American State Papers, Documents, Legislative and Executive, of the Congress of the United States (Washington, 1832–1861). description ends , Foreign Relations, I, 296). The truce meant the removal of the Portuguese vessels which had previously patrolled the Straits of Gibraltar keeping the Barbary corsairs confined to the Mediterranean. Church promptly but futilely protested to the Portuguese Foreign Minister, Luis Pinto de Souza, that the United States had received no notice of the truce and pointed out the dangers created for unsuspecting American vessels by the sudden emergence of the Barbary pirates into the Atlantic (ASP description begins American State Papers, Documents, Legislative and Executive, of the Congress of the United States (Washington, 1832–1861). description ends , Foreign Relations, I, 296). On October 8, 1793, Humphreys issued the following proclamation: “To all Governors, Magistrates, Officers Civil, Military & others concerned, in the United States of America: You are most earnestly desired, as speedily as possible, to give an universal alarm to all Citizens of the United States concerned in navigation, particularly to the southern parts of Europe, of the danger of being captured by the Algerines, in prosecuting their voyages to that destination.
“A Truce for twelve Months is concluded between Portugal and Algiers. In consequence of which a fleet of Algerine Cruizers passed through the Streights into the Atlantic, on Saturday night last” (copy, RG 59, Despatches from United States Consuls in Lisbon, July 27, 1791–December 18, 1802, National Archives). By December 12, 1793, Richard O’Brien, an unofficial spokesman for the American captives in Algiers, reported that eleven American vessels had been brought into that city as prizes since the signing of the truce, bringing the number of American captives in Algiers to one hundred and nineteen (ASP description begins American State Papers, Documents, Legislative and Executive, of the Congress of the United States (Washington, 1832–1861). description ends , Foreign Relations, I, 421–22).
3. John Lamb.
4. On October 12, 1793, Church informed Jefferson that “I have chartered a Ship this moment for £800 Sterlg. to carry my dispatches. She sails tomorrow—they will be delivered to you by Mr. [Schuyler] Livingston to whom [I] refer you for particulars …” (ALS, RG 59, Despatches from United States Consuls in Lisbon, July 27, 1791–December 18, 1802, National Archives). This ship was the Maria, which arrived in New York in early December (The [New York] Daily Advertiser, December 9, 1793). According to the terms of the charter party, “the freighters oblige themselves to pay to the Captain, to say, from … [Lisbon] to America three hundred and sixty Pounds Sterling and again the same and like quantity from thence to Lisbon and for Half Money to the Captn. eighty of the same Pounds making in all eight hundred Pounds; with the declaration that the Captain may receive upon his arrival there on half of the freight without any deduction whatever …” (D, RG 217, Miscellaneous Treasury Accounts, 1790–1894, Account No. 6074, National Archives).