Thomas Jefferson Papers

I. Proposed Convention against the Barbary States, [before 4 July 1786]

I. Proposed Convention against the Barbary States

[Before 4 July 1786]

Proposals for concerted operation among the powers at war with the Pyratical states of Barbary.

1. It is proposed that the several powers at war with the Pyratical states of Barbary (or any two or more of them who shall be willing) shall enter into a Convention1 to carry on their operations against those states in concert, beginning with the Algerines.

2. This convention shall remain open to any other power who shall at any future time wish to accede to it: the parties reserving a right2 to prescribe the conditions of such accession according to the circumstances existing at the time it shall be proposed.

3. The object of the convention3 shall be to compel the pyratical states to perpetual peace, without price, and to guarantee that peace to each other.

4. The operations for obtaining this peace shall be constant cruizes on their coast, with a naval force now to be agreed on. It is not proposed that this force shall be so considerable as to be inconvenient to any party.4 It is believed that half a dozen frigates with as many Tenders, or Xebecks, one half of which shall be in cruize while the other half is at rest, will suffice.

5. The force agreed to be necessary shall be furnished by the parties in certain quotas now to be fixed: it being expected that each will be willing to contribute in such proportion5 as circumstances may render reasonable.

6. As miscarriages often proceed from the want of harmony among officers of different nations, the parties shall now consider and decide whether it will not be better to contribute their quotas in money to be employed in fitting out and keeping on duty a single fleet of the force agreed on.

7. The difficulties and delays too which will attend the management of these operations if conducted by the parties themselves separately, distant as their courts may be from one another and incapable of meeting in consultation suggest a question whether it will not be better for them to give full powers for that purpose to their Ambassador or other minister resident at some one court of Europe, who shall form a Committee or Council for carrying this Convention6 into effect; wherein the vote of each member shall be computed in proportion to the quota of his sovereign, and the majority, so computed, shall prevail in all questions within the view of this Convention. The court of Versailles is proposed on account of it’s neighborhood to the Mediterranean and because all those powers are represented there who are likely to become parties to this convention.3

8. To save to that Council the embarassment of personal sollicitations for office, and to assure the parties that their contributions will be applied solely to the object for which they are destined, there shall be no establishment of officers for the said council, such as Commis, Secretaries or of any other kind, with either salaries or perquisites, nor any other lucrative appointments but such whose functions are to be exercised on board the said vessels.

9. Should war arise between any two of the parties to this Convention,7 it shall not extend to this enterprize, nor interrupt it: but as to this they shall be reputed at peace.8

10. When Algiers shall be reduced to peace, the other Pyratical states, if they refuse to discontinue their pyracies, shall become the objects of this Convention,3 either successively or together as shall seem best.

11. Where this Convention9 would interfere with treaties actually existing between any of the parties and of the said states of Barbary, the treaty shall prevail, and such party shall be allowed to withdraw from the operations against that state.

MS (DLC: TJ Papers, 232: 41539, 41539a); entirely in TJ’s hand. PrC of preceding (ViWC); at foot of text (written by TJ and missing from MS): “Ambassador of Portugal & Minister of Russia”; this has a line through it, obviously drawn at a later date and presumably by Henry A. Washington, who also in an effort to restore the faded PrC overwrote some of the words and put at the foot of the text: “Nov. 1786”; Washington also added at the foot of the text a note drawn substantially from information in TJ’s Autobiography and printed in HAW description begins Henry A. Washington, ed., The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, Washington, 1853-1854 description ends , ix, 307–8. Tr in TJ’s hand as inserted in his Autobiography (DLC), which varies only slightly in capitalization, punctuation, and spelling of a few words. PrC of a Tr (DLC: TJ Papers, 26: 4472–4); in the hand of William Short. Tr (DLC: TJ Papers, 155: 27166–7); in French, in the hand of an unidentified French clerk, with one interlineation in TJ’s hand (see note 5, below). Tr of the preceding translation (MHi, in a bound MS volume incorrectly labelled “Law Treaties”); in the hand of William Short. PrC of the preceding Tr (DLC: TJ Papers, 36: 6241–2).

1French text reads “une Coopération.”

2French text reads: “le droit des confédéres.”

3French text reads: “la confederation.”

4French text reads: “aucun des Conféderés.”

5TJ first wrote: “… in proportion to their abilities,” and then altered the phrase to read as above. The French text originally read: “On réglera en même tems que la force de L’Escadre le Contingent de chaque conféderé et l’on se flatte qu’ils voudront bien le proportionner à leurs moyens.” TJ deleted the clause “qu’ils voudront bien le proportionner à leurs moyens” and began to revise it interlineally, writing “que chaque puissance”; he then restored the text as originally written, substituting only “leur situation” for “leurs moyens.” It is this alteration which proves that the French text is prior in time to that of Document ii, though it will be noted that this French text (while including Article 9 as the text of Document ii does not), uses the word “Confederation,” &c., indicating that it belongs to an intermediate stage of translation between Document I and Document ii.

6French text reads: “cette Cooperation.”

7French text reads: “deux des Conféderés.”

8This Article was dropped and Articles 10 and 11 re-numbered before the text as shown in Document ii was prepared.

9French text reads: “cette confederation.”

Index Entries