James Madison Papers

To James Madison from George W. Erving, 29 July 1802

From George W. Erving, 29 July 1802

No. 9

American Consulate London July 29th. 1802


You will doubtless receive thro’ a variety ⟨of⟩ channels the declaration of war against the ⟨U⟩nited States by the Emperor of Morrocco: The ⟨in⟩closed are copies of letters which have come to ⟨me⟩ upon that subject from Mr. Simpson & from our ⟨Co⟩nsul at Gibraltar; in consequence of which as ⟨we⟩ll as of information from Mr. King I have published ⟨a⟩ notification to our citizens here, & forwarded ⟨the⟩ information to our Consuls in Germany & ⟨Ho⟩lland. The present appears to be a period peculiarly favorable for the Extirpation of those hordes of pirates upon the African coast; all ⟨Eur⟩ope is sensible that their existance has been ⟨too⟩ long suffered, & the power which has supported & ⟨cou⟩ntenanced them the most, (if she has the disposition) ⟨is c⟩ertainly not in a Capacity to preserve them. The ⟨Fre⟩nch undoubtedly meditate an attack upon Algiers under pretence of supporting the honor of their flag, but with a view doubtless of making a permanent settlement on that important part of the Barbary Coast, and there can be no pretext, (whatever the projects of the French against these pirates may be) for any European power except Turkey to interfere; & such a design is the more probable, as it must necessarily be the policy of France by some means or other to obtain possession of Ægypt; in the division of the Turkish Empire which is manifestly intended, Candia & Cyprus if not the Morea also will naturally fall to her share; thus having hold of Ægypt as it were by both ends it will be open to her conquests whenever the convenient moment may arrive, & the station of Cyprus will overawe Syria & effectu⟨ally⟩ prevent any diversion in that quarter. With a view to this great plan probably, Marseilles was made a free port, for what more plausible pretext for the commencement of their Operations (if a pretext were wanting) coud offer, than the situation of Marseilles; to what purpose it will be said have we opened this port if a banditti are to be suffered at the very door to intercept our customers & friends. But we are interested to know how the English wo⟨uld⟩ act; their forces it is said yet linger at Malta; if so, it is probable that (without a pretext for assisting the Barbarians,) they may resort to the next best ⟨m⟩easure of dividing their spoil; they may gain some of ⟨o⟩ur good will by joining us in an attack upon the Moors, & locate themselves opposite to their own Gibraltar. ⟨Be⟩ this as it may, they certainly will be very watchful ⟨of e⟩very movement of the French towards the possession ⟨of⟩ Ægypt; And every project of this sort will doubtless be beneficial to us, if not to themselves.

The grand speculations of Buonopartes ambition ⟨in⟩ this part of the world must withdraw his attention ⟨cer⟩tainly for a long time from Louisiania, besides ⟨the⟩ many obvious reasons which good policy woud ⟨sugg⟩est why he shoud not interfere with us in that ⟨qua⟩rter, amongst the first of which appears to be ⟨the⟩ necessity he will be under of receiving from ⟨us⟩ for a long time the means of supporting the very ⟨larg⟩e forces with which St. Domingo & Guadelope ⟨mus⟩t be preserved.

The official subject of this letter has led ⟨me⟩ into these reflections, which may not be acceptable, ⟨and⟩ which I hope you will Excuse. I have the honor to be Sir with the Most perfect Respect Your very obt. St.

George W Erving

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