Thomas Jefferson Papers

Official Instructions for Thomas Barclay, 13 May 1791

Official Instructions for Thomas Barclay

Philadelphia May 13th. 1791


You are appointed by the President of the United States to go to the Court of Morocco for the purpose of obtaining from the new Emperor a recognition of our Treaty with his father. As it is thought best that you should go in some definite character, that of Consul has been adopted, and you consequently receive a Commission as Consul for the United States in the dominions of the Emperor of Morocco, which having been issued during the recess of the Senate will of course expire at the end of their next session. It has been thought best however not to insert this limitation in the Commission as being unnecessary, and it might perhaps embarrass.—Before the end of the next session of the Senate it is expected the objects of your mission will be accomplished.

Lisbon being the most convenient port of correspondence between us and Morocco, sufficient authority will be given to Col: Humphreys, Resident for the United States at that place, over funds in Amsterdam for the objects of your mission. On him therefore you will draw for the sums herein allowed, or such parts of them as shall be necessary. To that port too you had better proceed in the first vessel which shall be going there, as it is expected you will get a ready passage from thence to Morocco.

On your arrival in Morocco sound your ground, and know how things stand at present. Your former voyage there having put you in possession of the characters through whom this may be done, who may best be used for approaching the Emperor and effecting your purpose, you are left to use your own knowledge to the best advantage.

The object being merely to obtain an acknowledgment of the Treaty, we rely that you will be able to do this, giving very moderate presents. As the amount of these will be drawn into precedent on future similar repetitions of them, it becomes important. Our distance, our seclusion from the ancient world, it’s politics and usages, our agricultural occupations and habits, our poverty, and lastly our determination to prefer war in all cases to tribute under any form and to any people whatever, will furnish you with topics for opposing and refusing high or dishonoring pretensions, to which may be added the advantages their people will derive from our commerce, and their Sovereign from the duties laid on whatever we extract from that country.

Keep us regularly informed of your proceedings and progress, by writing by every possible occasion, detailing to us particularly your conferences either private or public, and the persons with whom they are held.

We think that Francisco Chiappe has merited well of the United States by his care of their peace and interests. He has sent an account of disbursements for us amounting to 394 dollars. Do not recognise the account, because we are unwilling, by doing that, to give him a colour for presenting larger ones hereafter, for expences which it is impossible for us to scrutinize or controul. Let him understand that our laws oppose the application of public money so informally; but in your presents, treat him handsomely, so as not only to cover this demand, but go beyond it with a liberality which may fix him deeply in our interests. The place he holds near the Emperor renders his friendship peculiarly important. Let us have nothing further to do with his brothers or any other person. The money which would make one good friend, divided among several will produce no attachment.

The Emperor has intimated that he expects an Ambassador from us. Let him understand that this may be a custom of the old world, but it is not ours: that we never sent an Ambassador to any Nation.

You are to be allowed from the day of your departure till your return 166 ⅔ dollars a month for your time and expences, adding thereto your passage money and sea stores going and coming.

Remain in your post till the 1st. of April next, and as much longer as shall be necessary to accomplish the objects of your mission, unless you should receive instructions from hence to the contrary.

With your commission you will receive a Letter to the Emperor of Morocco, a cypher and a Letter to Col: Humphreys.—I have the honor to be with great esteem Sir Your most obedient & most humble servant

PrC of missing RC (DLC); in Remsen’s hand, unsigned. Tr (NjP); entirely in clerk’s hand; docketed in part: “for Colo Humphreys.” FC (DNA: RG 59, DCI). Enclosures: (1) Commission to Barclay as consul for Morocco, 31 Mch. 1791 (FC in DNA: RG 59, CC). (2) Washington’s letter to the Emperor of Morocco, 31 Mch. 1791: “Great and magnanimous Friend.—Separated by an immense Ocean from the the more ancient Nations of the Earth, and little connected with their Politics or Proceedings, we are late in learning the Events which take place among them, and later in conveying to them our Sentiments thereon.—The Death of the late Emperor, your Father and our Friend, of glorious Memory, is one of those Events which, tho’ distant, attracts our Notice and Concern. Receive, great and good Friend, my sincere Sympathy with you on that Loss; and permit me at the same time to express the Satisfaction with which I learn the Accession of so worthy a Successor to the Imperial Throne of Morocco, and to offer you the Homage of my sincere Congratulations. May the Days of your Majesty’s Life be many and glorious, and may they ever mark the Æra during which a great People shall have been most prosperous and happy under the best and happiest of Sovereigns.—The late Emperor, very soon after the Establishment of our Infant Nation, manifested his royal Regard and Amity to us by many friendly and generous Acts, and particularly by the Protection of our Citizens in their Commerce with his Subjects. And as a further Instance of his Desire to promote our Prosperity and Intercourse with his Realms, he entered into a Treaty of Amity and Commerce with us, for himself and his Successors, to continue Fifty years. The Justice and Magnanimity of your Majesty leave us full of Confidence, that this Treaty will meet your royal Patronage also; and it will give me great Satisfaction to be assured, that the Citizens of the United States of America may expect from your Imperial Majesty, the same Protection and Kindness, which the Example of your Illustrious Father has taught them to expect from those who occupy the Throne of Morocco, and to have your royal Word that they may count on a due observance of the Treaty which connects the two Nations in friendship.—This will be delivered to your Majesty by our faithful citizen Thomas Barclay, whom I name Consul for these United States in the Dominions of your Majesty, and who to the integrity and knowledge qualifying him for that Office, unites the peculiar advantage of having been the Agent through whom our Treaty with the late Emperor was received. I pray your Majesty to protect him in the exercise of his functions for the patronage of the commerce between our two countries, and of those who carry it on.—May that God, whom we both adore, bless your Imperial Majesty with long life, health and success, and have you always, Great and magnanimous Friend, under his holy keeping.—Written at Philadelphia the thirty first day of March in the fifteenth year of our sovereignty and independence, from Your good and faithful friend George Washington by the President Thomas Jefferson” (FC in DLC; entirely in Remsen’s hand; RC, also in his hand but signed by Washington and attested by TJ, was in possession of a private individual in Australia in 1973; Tr in DNA: RG 59, GRSD; all texts of the enclosure are those of the second version described below). TJ drafted Barclay’s instructions as well as the letter to the Emperor. He submitted these to Washington, who, as an entry in SJPL shows, returned them in a covering note of 10 March 1791 (Washington’s note is missing). Subsequently, when Barclay pointed out that if he were given no rank he would be received as an ambassador and commensurate gifts would be expected, TJ thereupon advised that he be sent as consul and submitted a blank commission for that purpose. He also drafted another letter to the Emperor not otherwise different from that signed by Washington “but as having a clause of credence in it” (TJ to Washington, 27 Mch. 1791). Washington signed both and left it to TJ to decide whether the commission could be issued without the approval of the Senate (Washington to TJ, 1 Apr. 1791). The text of the discarded letter to the Emperor which Washington signed early in March has not been found.

In voicing the policy of the government giving preference to “war in all cases to tribute under any form and to any people whatever,” TJ expressed his own settled conviction, though even at the moment of making the declaration the position he had consistently held was being eroded (see Editorial Note to group of documents on trade with the Mediterranean, at 28 Dec. 1790). The instructions here given, while issued in pursuance of law, also conflicted with his equally consistent view that a treaty represented the compact of two sovereign powers and could not be affected by a change in the form of the government of either or by a succession to the throne. But the secret instruction authorizing the expenditure of $10,000 in gifts for the purpose of confirming a treaty already negotiated was in effect only the payment of tribute under another guise.

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