James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Richard O’Brien, 25 November 1801

From Richard O’Brien, 25 November 1801

Algiers The 25th. November 1801

Esteemed Sir,

The Washington, and Ship Peace and plenty left Algiers destined for Tunis on the 22d. Inst. There was no alternative for the detention of These Ships at Algiers as we have had severe weather in general to unload and Ballast the Wn. and the fitting out The 6 sail of Theire largest Corsairs occupied The marine department 19 days.

I had agreed with The dey on the 14th. Inst. to accept of 25 fathoms as a cash paymt. for one years Annuities, and to give five fathoms to his aids. &c. but it occured to me after I had Thus gained This point, it would be better for The aids to have The Extra above 21600. in order to have an opportunity of Occasionally makeing a Cash payment, and The same time to aid The prices of The articles on the annuities; The Powder Cables Cordage & Canvass we loose from 3 to 400 pr Ct. on, but by The latter Cargo of the Washington those losses I brought up on the timber.

The dey requests on his own private account 500 mahogany boards from 3. to 4 inches thick and 24 inches broad, and as long as they can be procured. For the Regency The 700 Ct. or Quintals of spikes, Commisioned for nearly two yrs. past, and The whole of The plank and if Posible The timber, as I told The dey and ministry, That their accepting from The U States Occasionally a Cash payment, it would not retard The articles Commisioned for, but That we had not powder Cables Cordage or Canvass, Sufficient for our own use. We must at all times try to avoid haveing The order or Commision for those articles which we will loose Such Sums by, and have The Commission for timber Plank Scantling Small masts, Spars pipe Staves & Spikes To Secure this System we should not be in arrears, and to pay our debts to The Bacris & Busnachs Money should be forwarded directly or if The Bd. of The debt. was in Gurrahs, and Bastas, The favour to them at first Cost would save our Greasing ⟨feese⟩ in That Quarter.

If I had given The 30 fathoms to The dey, and hereafter wanted to make a Cash payment, he would ask 40. but by the 20 fathoms & 600 rope yarns, and The rest to The Sharks, it secures their interest on this System for another Occasion and without The aids nothing can be done. You might Compare The President of This Iron bound Republic to a Van Trump on the head of a Rudder. With the Plank Scantling Spikes & Mahogany board is to be added 15 pr. Ct., on Each article, its seperate price Carried out, and will be necessary to Send 4 pieces of india dimity, 4 Pieces of fine india Muslin 2 pieces of Ditto, Gold Sprigged for ⟨Turbants⟩, 60 loaves of refined sugar & 6. or 9 Quintals of Mocco Coffee. The whole of the articles in No. 2 I gave to The dey and Ministry. Those of No. 3 is all returned by the Wn. They were sent by a mistake of the purveyor. He should attend to The note or list of timber spikes &c. and all old Commisioned for articles to Erace from his consideration.

The Algerines dureing The time I have known this Country, never used any row Gallies. The Plane to suit us is to be procured in Spain Genoa Naples and Malta. I think there might be a great reform made in the old-fashioned Gallies and something Better planed for The Bays rivers and Coasts of The United States, and to be Schooner Riged in Lieu of Lattines. Those Sort of Vessels is Very formidable and Serviceable when well understood and managed. They would be of The greatest advantage with a fleet of 100 Sl. of Gunboats, to the UStates. The latter should be on the plan of those of Algaziers & Naples. The Gallies and Gunboats, thus would be a grand affaire to The United States, to Transport Coastways troops from one part of The US to The other to keep all frigates and Corsairs from our Bays & Harbours, and to attack Occasionally fleets to an Anchor in Calms, and light winds, particularly where There is Strong tides. Further, The fleet of Gallies and Gun boats, would carry and convoy a great number of troops to drive an Enemie off Rhode Island Nanttucket & Marthas Vineyard, & from any part of The Territory of The U. S. That an Enemie Should attempt to Land at to Keep possession to annoy The US. The sd. fleet or flottilla Could be Employed Occasionally to The No. or Southd. if we had war with either of our neighbours and in Case of Any insurrections of The Black tribes they would be able to Carry & land troops in their rear. They might here after be Serviceable on an Enterprize to the West indies and further would be Requisite to give a Regalia to our friends The Bashaws, of Those 3 highway men

It is well known last war as long as The States of Virginia and Maryland kept up the Gallies That The Chesepeake was not visited by petty Corsairs but when Once They were no more, both Costes of The Bay and all the Rivers was infested with little pirate Corsairs which did The greatest damage. I hope That day will never Come again, but if it should and we are on the System of The Gallies and Gunboats, we will not be troubled on our Coasts with Small pirateing Corsairs. The same time Tripoli should have its Just reward from The Govt. of The United States. It will give us security with The two Elder Brothers, and we should never forget The Necessity of haveing 3. or 4 frigates in This Sea. It is force on one tack that will give us security: and keep the Evil Minded in awe, and it will be in Vain for us to know we are a great nation. That we have 6 millions of Inhabitants, That we have great Exports & Imports That we have ⟨6000 Sl.⟩ of Vessels All This avails nothing to foreign nations, and particularly to Barbary. They will say Where is your navy. The Swedes deans dutch & Portuguese has not half your numbers or resourses, and They have Considerable maratime force.

I have forwarded you by The Washington A Koran from No. 2 to 42 The Contents I presume will give you some singular information. I am convinced That as long as those regencies does not exceed The boundary of reason that it will be the interest of The UStates to be at peace with Them. The Meditteranian is Equal to all Europe outside of The Streights, an Extensive field for Commerce If we have war with all we must have a large fleet of frigates in the Sea, and I doubt That we would Effectually be adequate to give a secure Convoy to our Commerce in this Sea owing to winds and Currents, And to give our Commerce in the Western Ocean security, we should have a fleet at Gibralter and Even then War would raise The insurance on our whole Commerce to Europe To be giveing annuities and presents and to be a supporter of The Barbary system must be Certainly Very irritateing to The united States, but those devils has existed before our time and will be kept up by the great powers to Crush the Commerce of The small powers. We shall see how far the Great Consul Generall will act relative to those 3 hawks. At all Events, as The Large Ships will break the ice, we will be ready to follow Peaceable times will lower freights and also Cordage Cables Canvas & powder and The Annuities of the deans Swedes and dutch in stores will in my Opinion be made Then adequate to Supply The wants of Algiers, When The Opportunity might offer to secure by an article in The Treaty to the U States, The paying of The Annuities in Cash, but Supose we Should thus Secure and arrange to give 30 Fathoms annually Considering The System of Algiers it would not Ansr. as The Ministry on this Plan would not have any thing to Themselves and from first to last it is well known that if The ministry is not interested in yr. favour to make a cash payment That, they would find means to urge The dey to have you Bring Stores in Lieu of Money. Here no one minds The interest of The Regency. Everyone is Studying his own private emolument. They say the Regency is sufficient fat & will live forever but That The are only for a short time. They will therefore find it Their interest to have ⟨or⟩ perswading the dey to take 21600. and the rest of 30 fathoms to Themselves but if we have a cash payment without interesting The ministry it will be of a short duration and Turn out to a war as The Venitians Experienced on this System.

N.B. Our Meditteranian Passports is defective The top which The Corsairs of these Regencies has does not agree with The bottom or The Pass which our merchant Vessels has. It is Customary at Algiers where there is this difficiency in the passport to Condemn the Cargo. The deans Swedes dutch Spaniards and french has acquised. often to this Over act. And it will be our lot and fate if not remidied. This Circumstance I have fully stated to The late administration. They had a passport Cut, on a good plan and it is omitted or neglected to be given to our merchant Vessels and The tops sent to The Consuls in Barbary and 18 months allowed for The Changeing The Passports. The Corsairs will Carry The old and new Cuts or tops and as our Mercht Vessels gets the new pass The old will become Useless. Full details on this Subject I have forwarded in former dispatches.

The Bacris agreed to pay The amount of The insurance made on the amount of the Cargo of The Washington which they recd. in Sept. 1800 I have wrote to you for information and has recd. none on this tack but supose as The drawback was to The interest of The US That the insurance if any was made will not be Charged However I wait your decision.

I had frequently made great Complaints to Mr. Pickering and those which afterwards Occupied his post in a temporary manner on acct. of neglecting Their Stipulations and annuities with Tunis and Algiers and about Sending Money to pay our debts, to the Bacris ⟨&c.⟩ We Escaped difficulties and great losses owing to Events & accidents, and had our frigates appeared off Tripoli in March or April with 20 Thd. dollars for The Bey, we should have avoided all That we have to wade against at present. The Squall would have gone to the deans or some one Else. However you have come into office when our affairs with Barbary was Verging to destruction but it must be pleasing to you to know That by forwarding The Stores for Tunis and Algiers and The Cash payment That you have thus secured and done away The reflection of our neglecting our Stipulations & seeking for difficulties God I hope will Guide you to sustain The honour and interest of our Country. I am Sir Very respectfully Your most Obt. Servt.

Rd. O.Brien

on the left margin: Wanted allso for The Regency 10 ⟨June⟩ Lignum Vita for [. . .] for Blocks

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