James Madison Papers

To James Madison from William Eaton, 22 March 1803 (Abstract)

§ From William Eaton

22 March 1803, “At Sea.” Notes that the enclosed reflection was not intended to be communicated, being only the ideas noted in a memorandum on the passage from Tunis to Algiers.1 “On Mr. OBrien’s coming on board he seemed somewhat surprised at seeing me. I stated to him, as correctly as possible in a few words, the cause and manner of my leaving Tunis.” O’Brien said the Sahib-at-Taba had premeditated it and at Eaton’s request wrote out the following evidence.2 “This certificate … corroborates so forceably the conclusions I had formed on the Subject that I feel it a duty I owe myself to let them appear—though I do not think them forming suitable matter for an official communication.” Asks pardon for submitting them for JM’s perusal. “If the Sapatapa meditated my destruction he has defeated his own designs by letting me get out of his hands. This was done in a gust of passion, of which, I hope, he may have cause to repent. It has long since been told me that this minister swore he would make me pay for all damages resulting from the impediments I had thrown in the way of his commerce to Tripoli. His conduct has corresponded with this oath. It is presuming far on the submissive temper of the United States to concieve the idea that Government will be careful to search out a man with a disposition and manners altogether pliable to the views of the catamite of the Bey of Tunis3 in order to maintain a good understanding with the sordid thieves! It is not however a precedent. The Minister may again quote to US the example of Spain.”

Index Entries