Notes on a Cabinet Meeting
Shall the squadron now at Norfolk be ordered to cruise in the Mediterranean
what shall be the object of the cruize.
Lincoln. Our men of war may repel an attack on individual vessels, but after the repulse, may not proceed to destroy the enemy’s vessels generally.
Gallatin. to declare war & to make war is synonimous. the Exve cannot put us in a state of war. but if we be put into that state either by the decln of Congress or of the other nation, the command & direction of the public force then belongs to the Exve.
Smith. if a nation commences war, the Exve is bound to apply the public force to defend the country.
Dearborne. the expedition should go forward openly to protect our commerce against the threatened hostilities of Tripoli.
Madison. that the cruize ot to be undertaken, & the object openly declared to every nation.
all concur in the expediency of cruize.
whether the captains may be authorized, if war exists, to search for & destroy the enemy’s vessels wherever they can find them?—all except mr L—agree they should; M. G. & S. think they may pursue into the harbours, but M. that they may not enter but in pursuit.
On 20 May, Samuel Smith ordered Captain Richard Dale to take his squadron to the Mediterranean. Dale’s orders anticipated that on his arrival off the Barbary Coast he might find Algiers, Tunis, and Tripoli all at peace with the United States, or he might find that one or more of those states had declared war. In the latter case, he was to protect American commerce but also “chastise” the enemy and destroy the opponent’s vessels “wherever you shall find them.” In letters of 20 and 21 May, Madison briefed U.S. consuls in the Mediterranean region and American ministers in Britain and Europe, stating that in the case of war, Dale would make “the most effectual use” of the squadron (NDBW description begins Dudley W. Knox, ed., Naval Documents Related to the United States Wars with the Barbary Powers, Washington, D.C., 1939–44, 6 vols. and Register of Officer Personnel and Ships’ Data, 1801–1807, Washington, D.C., 1945 description ends , 1:465–9; Madison, Papers, Sec. of State Ser. description begins J. C. A. Stagg, ed., The Papers of James Madison, Secretary of State Series, Charlottesville, 1986–, 8 vols. description ends , 1:199–201, 209–15; Levi Lincoln to TJ, 16 Apr. 1801).
Tribute: on signing a treaty of peace and amity with Algiers in 1795, the United States agreed to make annual payments of maritime stores worth 12,000 Algerine sequins (approximately $21,000). Recognizing that the U.S. was running behind in those annuities, TJ and Smith expected to send an additional ship, the George Washington, with timber and other stores constituting payment for at least one year. Dale’s Frigates carried $30,000 in cash that TJ and his advisers hoped Mustafa Baba, the dey of Algiers, would accept in lieu of supplies for another year’s payment (NDBW description begins Dudley W. Knox, ed., Naval Documents Related to the United States Wars with the Barbary Powers, Washington, D.C., 1939–44, 6 vols. and Register of Officer Personnel and Ships’ Data, 1801–1807, Washington, D.C., 1945 description ends , 1:466; Madison, Papers, Sec. of State Ser. description begins J. C. A. Stagg, ed., The Papers of James Madison, Secretary of State Series, Charlottesville, 1986–, 8 vols. description ends , 1:213–14; Miller, Treaties description begins Hunter Miller, ed., Treaties and Other International Acts of the United States of America, Washington, D.C., 1931–48, 8 vols. description ends , 2:303).
1. TJ interlined the remainder of the notes for the 15 May meeting sometime after he made the notes for the consultation of 16 May.