James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Richard O’Brien, 7 July 1802 (Abstract)

§ From Richard O’Brien

7 July 1802, Algiers. Reports a message from the dey telling him “to write and directly Bring to Algiers The large Ship, The Washington, that he the dey would send her to Constantinople to bring to Algiers A Quantity of masts and other articles.”1Force only Can Errace those ideas from the Brain of the dey.” Suggests the U.S. be ready for war “if the dey does not renounce his Don Quixotte Ideas.” For eighteen months the dey has been ordering the Danes “to Bring Vessels to go for those Masts &c. They have Bribed of[f] his ideas.” In a postscript, recounts events following the capture and arrival at Algiers of the Philadelphia brig Franklin. “I Claimed the Vessel Cargo & Crew of this govt. as the Gaurentee of our treaty with Tripoli but to no Effect. I requested the interferance of the regency to ransom the Brig Cargo and Crew but Could not prevail on this Govt. to do me that favour.… As yet I have a distant hope.” Reports terms of Spanish agreement with Algiers, listing five conditions. In a 22 June audience with the British consul, the dey threatened that if payment of an old claim of $187,000 was not made in five months “he the Potent Dey would make war with the British. His Efforts would be like unto a wasp disturbing the repose of a lion.” On 30 June the dey demanded of Bonaparte’s agent Thainville repayment of a $200,000 loan and a $300,000 tribute promised two years earlier; “the dey has given the french Agent 40 days to Comply with These demands—& if not War War War.”2 States that in the evening of 7 July the dey withdrew his demand for the ship George Washington, informing O’Brien he would “demand the favour of the Consul of a nation More adjacent.” In a postscript of 13 July observes that Algiers and Tunis are on the verge of war; “this is good news.”

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