From Mustafa Baba, Dey of Algiers
Equal to October The 17th. 1802
To, Our great friends
The american Government—
We Salute and pray for your health and happiness. Your Consul OBrien in your name demanded The favour of us to seek and Obtain, The release from Slavery of your Subjects, in the possession of The Pascha of Tripoli. we wrote and Obtained The Same and gave them to your Consul to send to you as a present, and we pray you to receive the same and be assured of our friendship—
We have been much dissatisfyed to hear That you would think of sending near us The Consul, That you had at Tripoli. whenever he comes we will not receive him. his Character does not Suit us, as we know, wherever he has remained That he has created difficulties and brought On a war
And as I will not receive him I am shure it will be well for both nations
Done in our divan at Algiers with The great Seal of Mustapha Pascha
Tr (DLC); in hand of Richard O’Brien; at foot of text: “Certifyd to be The Substance of The deys letter to The Presidt. of the UStates OBrien” and “NB. The dey requests, That Capt Morris will deliver his letter to The President of The UStates”; endorsed by O’Brien: “Letter of Dey of Algiers”; endorsed by TJ as received 19 May 1803 and so recorded in SJL. Tr (DNA: RG 59, CD); in O’Brien’s hand; endorsed by Jacob Wagner. Tr (same); in O’Brien’s hand. Tr (same); in O’Brien’s hand; subjoined to O’Brien to James Leander Cathcart, 10 Feb. 1803. RC (same); in Arabic; with Mustafa’s seal at head of text; editors’ translation: “May this letter of ours arrive among our dear friends, the rulers of America. How are you and how are your circumstances? As for what follows, there are concerns regarding the consul Wabriim (O’Brien), your envoy who has requested that I free the Christians whom the Tripolitans seized. I wrote to the sultan of Tripoli who sent them promptly. I placed them in the hands of the consul such that you yourselves might receive them from my possession without delay. I am dismayed by something I have heard. You wish to send to me Karkari (Cathcart), the consul who was in Tripoli, that he might remain in our land as consul. If he comes to me, I shall in no way receive him since he is not a good man. It is clear that wherever he spends time he creates a great disturbance. For this reason, our not accepting him is for our and your good. Written with the permission of our master, the blessed sir, Mustafa Pasha, sultan of Algiers”; endorsed by Wagner. Dupl (MHi); in Arabic; same seal and text as RC.
Mustafa Baba (d. 1805) became the dey of Algiers in 1798 and ruled during a period of political, economic, and social instability. A military cadre of foreign janissaries, many of them Anatolian Turks, controlled the selection of the dey and always named someone from their own ranks. They chose Mustafa following the death of his uncle, the dey Ali Hassan. Before he came to power, Mustafa directed the treasury and had ties to Jewish brokers who exercised a powerful role in financial policy and foreign affairs. He made one of those financiers, Naphtali Busnach, his principal adviser. William Eaton, after an audience with the new dey in 1799, left a harsh description of Mustafa as “a huge shaggy beast” seated on a velvet cushion in a dark room “with his hind legs gathered up like a tailor, or a bear.” Mustafa’s foreign policy often seemed capricious to the Ottoman government and to European countries. In Algiers, he had to contend with rebellion, a guild of sea captains who controlled the corsair fleet, and autonomous provinces. Plots against him failed in 1801 and 1804. In 1805, as popular discontent rose during a famine, a janissary murdered Busnach and set off a wave of violence against Jews. Members of the janissary corps determined to replace Mustafa as dey and killed him as he attempted to flee Algiers. Baba, from a Turkish word for “father,” was an honorific title like pasha. Mustafa was sometimes called Mustafa Pasha (Louis B. Wright and Julia H. MacLeod, The First Americans in North Africa: William Eaton’s Struggle for a Vigorous Policy against the Barbary Pirates, 1799–1805 [Princeton, 1945], 31, 187–8; H. D. de Grammont, Histoire d’Alger: sous la domination Turque (1515–1830) [Paris, 1887], 354–62; William Spencer, Algiers in the Age of the Corsairs [Norman, Okla., 1976], 21–2, 41–2, 59–65, 163–4; P. M. Holt, Ann K. S. Lambton, and Bernard Lewis, eds., The Cambridge History of Islam, 2 vols. [Cambridge, 1970], 2A:277–85; Mouloud Gaïd, L’Algérie sous les Turcs [Tunis, 1974], 167–71; Philip C. Naylor, Historical Dictionary of Algeria, 3d ed. [Lanham, Md., 2006], 298, 391; Robert J. Allison, The Crescent Obscured: The United States and the Muslim World, 1776–1815 [New York, 1995], 158–9, 172–3; 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 , 2:198, 200; H. A. R. Gibb and others, eds., The Encyclopedia of Islam: New Edition, 11 vols. [Leiden, 1960], 1:838).
DEMANDED THE FAVOUR: O’Brien reported that “at my request in the name of the united States,” Mustafa had written to Yusuf Qaramanli of Tripoli asking him to turn over Andrew Morris and the crew of the Franklin. O’Brien promised that the U.S. would pay Algiers $5,000 for the release of the captives. After Yusuf sent the American prisoners to Algiers, Mustafa gave the Tripolitan ruler expensive gifts, including wheat and luxury items (O’Brien to Madison, 11 Oct., 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 , 4:16).
YOUR SUBJECTS: Morris and four members of his crew arrived in Algiers on 6 Oct. Mustafa composed his letter to TJ in the expectation that Morris would deliver the document. O’Brien also gave Morris some dispatches to carry. The mariner delivered the papers in Washington on 19 May 1803 (same, 4:16–18, 50; 5:47).
THAT YOU HAD AT TRIPOLI: when O’Brien called on Mustafa on 8 Oct. to thank him for obtaining the release of the captives, the dey objected to the appointment of James L. Cathcart as consul at Algiers and declared his intention to write to the president on the subject (same, 17).
The DIVAN was the Algerian council of state (Spencer, Algiers in the Age of the Corsairs, 50–2; Naylor, Historical Dictionary of Algeria, 391).