James Madison Papers

To James Madison from James Leander Cathcart, 24 July 1803 (Abstract)

§ From James Leander Cathcart

24 July 1803, Leghorn. No. 9. Acknowledges receipt of JM’s 9 Apr. circular,1 “enclosed with two letters from the President to the Bey of Tunis the one of the 14th: & the other of the 22nd: of April.”2 The commission for Tunis was not enclosed. Has taken passage on “a greek Polacca bound to Corfú whose master has agreed to land me at Malta.” Hopes to find U.S. warships there. Will execute the president’s orders “with an alacrity proportionable to the means” furnished him. Has tried “to negociate funds for the purpose” but finds it “difficult to procure cash for bills upon government” for less than 12 percent. Will “only draw for sufficient to facilitate a negotiation with Tripoli which is absolutely necessary as that Bashaw prefers a sum comparatively smaller on the moment an agreement is made to a much larger gratuity payable at a distant period.” Sails “tomorrow” on his mission and will obey his instructions, “however mortifying” to his “pride & sense of national dignity.” “Government are the proper & best judges of the steps necessary to be taken to promote the welfare of the community in general & I bend to imperious necessity, but not without a sigh! I long ere now expected to see Tripoli prostrate at our feet, one small effort would have establishd our national character with that Regency for a century better than a million sterling, but for want of energy & a spirit of enterprize we bring our humiliations to the Bashaws foot stool.”

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