From Hammuda Pasha, Bey of Tunis
A Tunis Le 8e: Septembre 1802.
Monsieur Le President
J’ai vu arriver et j’ai reçu successivement avec beaucoup de plaisir et avec une égale satisfaction tous les Articles de Munitions de guerre et Navales ainsi que les superbes bijouts, que votre gouvernement m’a fait passer pour ma Regence et pour Moi, en exécution de nos Capitulations pour L’affermissement et la consolidation de la bonne harmonie et L’Alliance qui Dieu merci ont été établies et subsistent actuellement entre Nous.
Tandis que je me plais à vous donner cette assurance bien sincere de mon plein contentement, Je ne dois pas Vous dissimuler que je ne me vois pas cependant traité avec la même distinction et avec les mêmes égards que Vous avez eu pour vos autres Amis, et puisque J’en suis egalement un, Je vous avoue avec franchise, comme Je L’ai declaré à Mr. Eaton votre Consul, qu’il m’aurait été infiniment agréable que Vous m’eussiez aussi fait don d’un Batiment de guerre
Mr. Eaton n’ayant pas trouvé convenable de se charger de vous faire lui même cette demande de ma part, Je me suis decidé à Vous temoigner directement par la presente, qu’il me serait très agréable que Vous m’envoyassiez une bonne Fregate de trente six pieces de Cannon, ce qui ajouterait à la haute estime que J’ai pour votre Nation et cimenterait de plus en plus les Liens de notre Amitié, que de mon Coté Je conserverai permanente et imperturbable
Convaincu d’avance comme Je le suis, Monsieur le President, que cette demande prise en considération obtiendra le plein effet que J’en attends, Je Vous renouvelle L’assurance de mon estime la plus distinguée, et Je prie Dieu tout puissant de Vous avoir in sa sainte garde
Hamuda Pacha Bey
Prince des Princes de Tunis
La Ville la bien gardée, le
Sejour du Bonheur
Tunis 8 Sep. 1802
I have seen arrive and then received with much pleasure and equal satisfaction all the military and naval stores as well as the superb jewels that your government has sent for my regency and for me, following up on our agreements to strengthen and consolidate the harmony and alliance which, thank God, have been established and continue between us.
While I am pleased to give you this very sincere assurance of my full contentment, I must not hide from you that I nevertheless do not see myself treated with the same distinction and respect as your other friends. Since I too am a friend, I must frankly admit, as I told your consul, Mr. Eaton, that I would have been infinitely pleased if you had also given me a warship.
Since Mr. Eaton did not judge fitting to communicate this request, I have resolved to express directly through this letter that I would be pleased if you could send me a good 36-gun frigate. This would add to the high esteem I have for your nation and strengthen ever more the ties of our friendship which, on my side, I will preserve as firm and inviolable.
Convinced in advance, Mister President, that this request will be taken into consideration and obtain the desired effect, I renew the assurance of my most distinguished esteem and pray that almighty God may have you in his holy keeping.
Hammuda Pasha, Bey
Prince of Princes of Tunis,
the City Well Guarded,
the Abode of Happiness
RC (DNA: RG 59, CD, Tunis); in a clerk’s hand, with Hammuda’s seal; at head of text: “Le Pacha Bey de Tunis au President de la Republique des Etats Unis d’Amérique.” Dupl (same); in William Eaton’s hand; in code; at head of text: “Duplicate copy by translation”; with an addition by Eaton, 9 Oct., in code, advising that a surprise attack by 800 men during the winter or spring could destroy Tunis’s naval arsenal and larger warships (Madison, Papers, Sec. of State Ser. description begins William T. Hutchinson, Robert A. Rutland, J. C. A. Stagg, and others, eds., The Papers of James Madison, Chicago and Charlottesville, 1962–, 33 vols. Sec. of State Ser., 1986–, 9 vols.; Pres. Ser., 1984–, 6 vols.; Ret. Ser., 2009–, 1 vol. description ends , 4:8n); postscript to that note, in clear text: “It must sooner or later come to this, except something more impressive be done in the east”; endorsed by Jacob Wagner: “Recd. in W. Eaton’s 9 Oct. 1802.” Tripl (same); in Eaton’s hand; in code; at head of text: “Triplicate copy by translation”; with same addition in code and postscript in clear text; endorsed. Tr (DNA: RG 59, CD, Tripoli); in Eaton’s hand; in French; at head of text: “Copie litteralle”; lacks the phrase “et avec une égale satisfaction” in the opening sentence; endorsed by Eaton: “Copy”; endorsed by James L. Cathcart: “Recd. by me at Leghorn Septr. 30th. 1802—Cathcart”; endorsed by Wagner; enclosed in Cathcart to Madison, 8 Oct. (Madison, Papers, Sec. of State Ser. description begins William T. Hutchinson, Robert A. Rutland, J. C. A. Stagg, and others, eds., The Papers of James Madison, Chicago and Charlottesville, 1962–, 33 vols. Sec. of State Ser., 1986–, 9 vols.; Pres. Ser., 1984–, 6 vols.; Ret. Ser., 2009–, 1 vol. description ends , 4:3–4). Tr (CSmH); in Wagner’s hand and with his signed attestation; in French; at head of text: “Copy.” Tr (same); in Eaton’s hand; in English; at head of text: “Translation”; endorsed. Recorded in SJL as received 21 Mch. 1803.
ARTICLES DE MUNITIONS DE GUERRE ET NAVALES AINSI QUE LES SUPERBES BIJOUTS: the United States had sent Hammuda personal items mounted with diamonds and a supply of naval stores, cannons, and lumber (Vol. 36:667–8n).
MR. EATON N’AYANT PAS TROUVÉ CONVENABLE: the bey wanted William Eaton to make the request for a warship, but the consul, believing that Hammuda and his ministers would hold him responsible for the satisfaction of any demands they made through him, refused. Should he agree to make the request, Eaton explained to Madison, the Tunisians would “raise an assumpsit on this compliance.” When the bey, having determined to write directly to the United States government, expected the consul to draft “a form of the letter,” Eaton again refused. The Tunisians, he reported, insisted that “the Prince of America” must bestow a frigate on Hammuda as an “expression of friendship” comparable to tokens of good will from the United States to Algiers. The demand for the ship, however, was in Eaton’s opinion simply “a pretext” for breaking the peace between Tunis and the United States: Hammuda had a “penetrating and subtile” mind, Eaton wrote to Madison, and was not “stupid enough” to think that the United States would yield to his demand for a 36-gun warship. Yusuf Sahib-at-Taba, attempting to point out the possible consequences of Eaton’s “neglect of duty,” acknowledged that there could be a “rupture” between the two countries. The prime minister, whose demeanor the consul described as “irritated,” signaled that his government’s patience was growing thin and that its “forbearance” toward the United States might end. Yusuf Sahib-at-Taba told Eaton that Tunis wanted to communicate with the U.S. government “in the English language that we may be understood,” but in the end, the bey’s letter, produced without Eaton’s assistance, was in French (Eaton to Madison, 12 Sep., in DNA: RG 59, CD; Madison, Papers, Sec. of State Ser. description begins William T. Hutchinson, Robert A. Rutland, J. C. A. Stagg, and others, eds., The Papers of James Madison, Chicago and Charlottesville, 1962–, 33 vols. Sec. of State Ser., 1986–, 9 vols.; Pres. Ser., 1984–, 6 vols.; Ret. Ser., 2009–, 1 vol. description ends , 3:574–8).
LES LIENS DE NOTRE AMITIÉ: Eaton did agree to provide a conveyance for the bey’s letter. Earlier he had used an armed ship that he owned, the Gloria, for what he considered to be official business in the Mediterranean, until Captain Alexander Murray put an end to the practice as a “needless expence.” Anticipating that the bey’s advisers would expect him to dispatch the Gloria to the United States with the letter, Eaton rid himself of the ship, sending it to Leghorn to be sold. He did, however, give the document to the Gloria’s captain, Joseph Bounds of Baltimore. After making arrangements for the disposal of the ship, Bounds was to avail himself of “the first safe passage” to the United States and deliver Hammuda’s letter in Washington—”for which you will receive compensation from the Government,” Eaton promised. Bounds left Tunis with the letter on 14 Sep. Eaton sent the coded duplicate and triplicate of the bey’s letter to the U.S. in October. In a dispatch to Madison dated 22 Oct., the consul repeated his suggestion, which he had included with the coded versions of Hammuda’s letter, that the United States make a preemptive attack on the Tunisian navy (Madison, Papers, Sec. of State Ser. description begins William T. Hutchinson, Robert A. Rutland, J. C. A. Stagg, and others, eds., The Papers of James Madison, Chicago and Charlottesville, 1962–, 33 vols. Sec. of State Ser., 1986–, 9 vols.; Pres. Ser., 1984–, 6 vols.; Ret. Ser., 2009–, 1 vol. description ends , 3:98, 99n, 577; 4:6, 51; 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 , 2:145, 240, 273, 304).