Thomas Jefferson Papers

From Thomas Jefferson to the Senate and the House of Representatives, 1 March 1802

To the Senate and the House of Representatives

Gentlemen of the Senate and of the House of Representatives:

I transmit for the information of Congress letters recently recieved from our Consuls at Gibraltar and Algiers, presenting the latest view of the state of our affairs with the Barbary powers.   The sums due to the government of Algiers are now fully paid up: and, of the gratuity which had been promised to that of Tunis, and was in course of preparation, a small portion only remains still to be finished and delivered

Th: Jefferson

March 1. 1802.

RC (DNA: RG 46, LPPM, 7th Cong., 1st sess.); endorsed by Senate clerks, noting referral to a committee and the results of the committee’s report (see below). PrC (DLC). RC (DNA: RG 233, PM, 7th Cong., 1st sess.); in Meriwether Lewis’s hand, signed by TJ. Enclosures: (1) Extract of John Gavino to the secretary of state, 29 Dec. 1801; Gavino, the U.S. consul at Gibraltar, reporting that the Boston under Daniel McNeill’s command arrived there on the 22d and left the next day in expectation of joining Richard Dale in the Mediterranean; reporting also that four Swedish frigates commanded by Admiral Olaf Rudolf Cederström arrived at Malaga to cruise against Tripolitan ships, with orders to cooperate with Dale (Tr in DNA: RG 46, LPPM; in a clerk’s hand; endorsed by a Senate clerk). (2) Extract of Gavino to the secretary of state, 11 Jan. 1802, reporting among other things that a British frigate arrived at Gibraltar on 7 Jan. with a British consul and an Algerian ambassador who had been in England; the British consul had a box of jewels from Rufus King for delivery to William Eaton, the U.S. consul at Tunis, as a present to the bey of Tunis; Gavino reporting also on the movements of an ambassador from Tripoli and noting in a postscript that Cederström had left Malaga to join Dale (Tr in same; in a clerk’s hand; endorsed by a Senate clerk). (3) Richard O’Brien, Algiers, to Gavino, 28 Nov. 1801, reporting that Dale in the President arrived at Algiers in November and landed money; O’Brien has made a payment of one year’s annuity, and reports that the U.S. is paid up in annuities to Algiers for the six years from 5 Sep. 1795 to 5 Sep. 1801; there are some other payments due, which O’Brien is attempting to resolve; O’Brien reporting also that the George Washington, convoying the supply ship Peace and Plenty to Tunis, was forced by bad weather to put in at Algiers for a time before proceeding, but O’Brien supposes they finally reached Tunis; Algiers has been fitting out six “of the largest Corsairs”; on its return trip from Tunis, the George Washington will convoy any vessels desiring its protection (PrC of Tr in same; misdated 28 Nov. 1802, corrected in ink by an unidentified hand). Printed in ASP description begins American State Papers: Documents, Legislative and Executive, of the Congress of the United States, Washington, D.C., 1832–61, 38 vols. description ends , Foreign Relations, 2:381–2.

For the information of Congress: Meriwether Lewis delivered the above message and the accompanying documents to the House and the Senate on 2 Mch. The House referred the matter to the committee established on 15 Dec. to deal with protection of commerce against the Barbary states (see note to TJ to the Senate and the House of Representatives, 22 Dec. 1801). On 3 Mch., the Senate gave the message and documents to a committee consisting of Uriah Tracy, Jonathan Dayton, and DeWitt Clinton. They reported on 5 Mch. that publication of the papers was “unnecessary” (JHR description begins Journal of the House of Representatives of the United States, Washington, D.C., 1826, 9 vols. description ends , 4:110; JS description begins Journal of the Senate of the United States, Washington, D.C., 1820–21, 5 vols. description ends , 3:187, 189).

Previously, the United States had paid annuities to Algiers in the form of naval supplies. In May 1801, TJ and the cabinet decided to offer a cash payment in lieu of stores for one year’s annuity. When Richard Dale sailed for the Mediterranean he had $30,000 on board the President for the purpose, but with instructions that he was not to put the money ashore until the dey, Mustafa Baba, agreed to the arrangement. Dale stopped at Algiers in July and also sent a message to Richard O’Brien, the consul, in September, but not until November did Dale get O’Brien to resolve the matter with the dey. Mustafa consented to the deal, and Dale transferred the cash to O’Brien to make the 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, 506, 577, 620–1, 633; Madison, Papers, Sec. of State Ser., 2:51, 432–3; Vol. 34:115).

The gratuity to Tunis involved gifts that the United States had agreed to give Hammuda Pasha, the bey, for his consent to the treaty that was negotiated in 1797 and ratified, with some modifications, by the Senate in 1799. Some of the luxury items required for the gift, including jewelry, silks, fine cloth, an enameled poniard dagger with diamonds, and gold-and diamond-mounted guns and pistols, were impossible to obtain in the United States. In 1800, the State Department asked Rufus King to handle the matter in London. King commissioned the jeweled articles, which included a diamond ring, gold watches with diamonds for the bey and his son, and a gold snuff box with diamonds, from the firm that supplied jewelry to the British crown. In December 1801, when those items were ready and encased in a fitted box, King had them insured and placed them in the care of Lewis Hargreaves, a British citizen who was returning to Tunis. King, who had already shipped the cloth and silk, was still waiting for the firearms to be finished. According to Madison, TJ considered the demand for the luxury goods “extortionate,” but believed that if they were “essential to the preservation of peace and the benefits of the Treaty with the Bey, they must be yielded to him.” In 1801, the United States chartered the ship Peace and Plenty and sent it to the Mediterranean with cannons, gunpowder, naval stores, and lumber that were also part of the obligation to Tunis (Madison, Papers, Sec. of State Ser., 1:200, 221, 347–8, 401, 414, 423; 2:316–17; King, Life description begins Charles R. King, ed., The Life and Correspondence of Rufus King: Comprising His Letters, Private and Official, His Public Documents and His Speeches, New York, 1894–1900, 6 vols. description ends , 3:246–7, 355, 438–9; 4:31; Vol. 33:591–2; Vol. 35:12–14, 31–3, 148–9, 162–4, 188–90).

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