Thomas Jefferson Papers

V. American Commissioners to the Emperor of Morocco, September – October 1785

V. American Commissioners to the Emperor of Morocco

The Congress of the United States of America after the conclusion of that war which established their freedom and independance, and after the cares which were first necessary for the restoration of order and regular government, turned their attention in the first moment possible to the connections which it would be proper to form with the nations on this side the Atlantic for the maintenance of friendship and improvement of commerce with them. They therefore on the twelfth day of May1 in the last year thought proper to appoint us with Doctr. Benjn. Franklin their Ministers Plenipotentiary to negotiate and to conclude such treaties of Amity and Commerce as should be agreed on with those nations. The variety of the commissions of this nature with which we were charged rendered impracticable our attending in person at the several courts to which they were addressed, and required that we should execute them by the intervention of confidential persons to be sent to those courts. Congress sensible of this have been pleased by other full powers bearing date the 11th. day of March last to give to the same Ministers or a majority of them authority to appoint such Agents for the purpose of negotiating these treaties under our instruction, of bringing them to maturity and of signing them in a preliminary form, referring them to us for definitive execution, as by the full powers, a copy of which we have the honour of transmitting herewith to your Majesty,2 will more particularly appear. Doctr. Franklin our collegue having found it necessary to return to America, the execution of these full powers has devolved on us alone. As the circumstances before explained put it out of our power to have the honour of presenting ourselves in person at the court of your Majesty, so others supervened which rendered impracticable our meeting at any other place such minister as your Majesty might condescend to authorize to treat with us on the subjects with which we were charged: one of us being placed as Minister Plenipotentiary for the United States at the court of Great Britain and the other in the same character at the court of France. We have therefore adopted the only remaining method that of sending a confidential Agent according to the authority given us, [to testify to your Majesty our high respect and gratitude for the friendly disposition you have manifested to the U.S. to assure you of the desire of our country to form a connection with a Sovereign so renowned for his power, his wisdom and his justice, and]3 to concert with such Minister as your Majesty shall think proper to appoint those conditions which will be most advantageous for both nations to adopt for the regulation of their commerce and of their mutual conduct towards each other. The person whom we charge with this high mission is Thomas Barclay Esqr., possessing in the highest degree the confidence of the U.S. and as such having been several years and still being their Consul General with our great and good Friend and Ally the King of France. Although our full powers reserve to us the ultimate signature of the Treaty to be established yet such is our reliance on the wisdom and integrity of Mr. Barclay that we assure your Majesty you may have full faith in whatever he shall agree to, and that the same when sent to us will be returned with our signature in order to receive that of the person whom your Majesty shall commission for the same purpose.4

With the most profound respect and our best wishes for the health, happiness, prosperity and glory of your Imperial Majesty We have the honor to subscribe ourselves Your Majesty’s Most Obedient Most hble. Servants.

Tr (DNA: PCC, No. 87, i); in Humphreys’ hand; without dates or signatures; at foot of text is a note pointing out the variations in the text of the letter for Lamb to the Dey of Algiers. Tr (DNA: PCC, No. 107, i); at head of letter: “No. 7.” FC (DNA: PCC, No. 117); lacks the note appended to Tr. Dft (DNA: PCC, No. 107, ii); in TJ’s hand; undated; written on a leaf endorsed on verso by Adams: “Letter to Mr. Jefferson concerng. Money.” In DNA: PCC, No. 98 there is an undated memorandum in TJ’s hand which supplements Dft and instructs the copyist regarding substitutions to be made in preparing the letter to the Dey of Algiers; at end of text is a note by the clerk. A copy was sent by TJ to John Jay as the seventh enclosure to his letter of 11 Oct. 1785. As TJ wrote Adams on 27 Dec. 1785, the intended enclosures, the copies of their “full powers,” (see Jay to the Commissioners, 11 Mch. 1785).

1The date and month were left blank in Dft and filled in by Humphreys.

2TJ’s memorandum for the clerk contained the following instruction: “in the letter to Algiers wherever the term Your Majesty is used, leave a blank.”

3The passage in square brackets (thus in Dft) was omitted from the letter to Algiers, as directed by TJ’s memorandum.

4According to TJ’s memorandum, the following passage was substituted in the letter to Algiers for the words “Thomas Barclay Esqr.” and the remainder of the paragraph: “‘Lamb esquire a citizen of the U.S. in whose wisdom and integrity we have so high confidence that tho our full powers reserve to us the ultimate signature of the treaty to be established, yet we may venture to assure that we will ratify and confirm definitively whatever preliminary conditions he shall agree and transmit to us for that purpose.’” The note at end of Tr agrees with this except for a few minor differences of phrasing and the insertion of Lamb’s given name in the first blank.

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