James Madison Papers

To James Madison from James Leander Cathcart, 27 September 1801 (Abstract)

§ From James Leander Cathcart

27 September 1801, Leghorn. No. 12. Sends enclosures covering occurrences since his last dispatch. Danish commodore Koefoed has arrived from Tripoli, where he adjusted terms of tribute rather than taking advantage of the current opportunity to eliminate payments; coercion of the pasha seems contrary to Danish policy. Though enclosures show the friendly disposition of Swedes, he believes they would not maintain a “common cause” with the U.S. and would seek an early peace treaty with Tripoli. Has discussed the issue with the Danish and Swedish agents and has learned that both nations subject themselves to humiliating terms in the belief that it is more economical than supporting a squadron in the Mediterranean. Argues that this is false economy as they maintain one or two frigates and still have ten to thirty vessels captured per year. Koefoed asserted, on the basis of information he claimed to have received from Kirkpatrick at Málaga, that Jefferson’s plan to reduce navy will result in the U.S. accepting “every demand of the Barbary States be they ever so unjust or enormous.” Cathcart vigorously denied this assertion on the basis of his personal acquaintance with Jefferson and JM. Believes that both Denmark and Sweden are ashamed of their behavior. In future both nations will follow the American course if it is successful.

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