Thomas Jefferson Papers

From Thomas Jefferson to Mustafa Baba, Dey of Algiers, 9 June 1804

To Mustafa Baba, Dey of Algiers

Great and Good Friend,

I have received your letter of the 14th of October last and in it assurances of the continuance of your friendly dispositions towards the United States, and of your attachment to the Treaty which binds us together. These assurances are the more satisfactory as we also are disposed to a faithful observance of our Treaty; which, settling, as between friends, a fixed measure of what the one is bound to yield and the other has a right to receive, prevents requisitions out of the provisions of the Treaty, which sometimes it is inconvenient and sometimes impracticable to comply with.1 The materials from which the brass cannon you request are made are not among the productions of this Country: and when we have occasion of any thing of brass we seek it in the countries of your neighbourhood.2 Happening however at present to have on hand a quantity of this metal intended for our own use, such is the earnestness with which you make this request and so great is my desire to accommodate you, that I shall immediately order the cannon and necessary apparatus to be fabricated and sent to you on account of the annual supplies stipulated in our Treaty.

I have just learned with great regret the loss of the ship Sally,3 off Cadiz, laden by us with naval stores for you. I regret it not so much for the value to us, as the delay, which our great distance from you will necessarily occasion in supplying the loss. Orders have however been given to forward others without loss of time.4

The Bashaw of Tripoly persevering in the unjust war which he commenced against us three years ago, and one of our ships having fallen into his hands (which however providence did not permit him to keep) to supply this loss we have ordered five more of our frigates, commanded by some of our best Captains, to join the other ships we have in the Mediterranean sea: and we firmly hope that when he is thus convinced of the strength of the nation he has rashly provoked, his heart may be recalled to justice and peace. We rely, that if any of the squadron should stand in need of the accommodations of your ports your frequent assurances of the friendship you bear us will be realized in performing towards them every act which may testify it in the most unequivocal manner. And I pray God, Great and Good friend to have you in his holy keeping.

Done at the City of Washington the Ninth day of June in the year 1804.

Th: Jefferson

FC (Lb in DNA: RG 59, Credences); at head of text: “Thomas Jefferson, President of the United States of America, To the Most Excellent and Most Illustrious Mustapha Pacha, Dey of the City and Regency of Algiers”; below signature: “By the President” and “James Madison Secretary of State.” Tr (MiU-C: Tobias Lear Papers). PoC (DLC); dated 27 Mch. 1804; entirely in TJ’s hand; with significant variations noted below. Recorded in SJL under 27 Mch.

The ship sally, carrying timber and naval stores as part of the annuity due to Algiers, ran aground near Sanlúcar de Barrameda, Spain, on 20 Nov. 1803. Although the vessel was lost, a portion of the cargo was salvaged and sold (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- , 39 vols.; Sec. of State Ser., 1986- , 11 vols.; Pres. Ser., 1984- , 8 vols.; Ret. Ser., 2009- , 3 vols. description ends , 6:154, 205, 622).

orders have however been given: Madison forwarded TJ’s letter to Mustafa in his instructions to Tobias Lear dated 6 June. Writing Robert Smith on 9 June, Madison informed him of the president’s decision to send brass cannon to Algiers and to replace the Sally’s cargo. The cannon could be cast at the Georgetown foundry of Henry Foxall “out of some brass belonging to the public.” Smith subsequently ordered the navy agent at Norfolk, Daniel Bedinger, to assemble the cargo and charter a suitable vessel as soon as possible (same, 7:287-91, 300; 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 , 4:208-9, 231-2).

1In PoC, TJ here wrote “of the latter kind is your request of brass field pieces from us.”

2In PoC, the remainder of the paragraph reads: “we have here however a mine of iron, the only one perhaps which is known, of such quality as to admit field pieces to be cast as light, and as strong as brass, more durable, and less costly. this we use ourselves for field pieces; & knowing from our own experience it’s superior value, I shall immediately order and send to you those you request, instead of other articles of the annual supplies stipulated in our treaty. I am persuaded that in so doing I shall execute your intentions to your greater satisfaction. adhering substantially to our mutual stipulation, I shall nevertheless take a pleasure in any occasional modifications of them which may suit your convenience & prove our friendship to you.”

3Name of ship left blank in PoC.

4PoC ends here with “I pray god, great & good friend to have you in his holy keeping.”

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