James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Richard O’Brien, 16 September 1802

From Richard O’Brien, 16 September 1802

Algiers The 16th. of Septr. 1802

Esteemed Sir

Your letter of the 10th. of May I have recd this day inclosed to me Open in one from Consul Gavino of the 30th. Of July informing me he recd. Said letter The 25th. July. What motive has given it this great detention, I further Cannot trace, or Divine.

Such Vouchers as Can be Obtained in this Country I shall use my Endeavours to procure but I shall Observe I cannot have or procure others different, then the Consuls of other nations. The Circumstances and System of transacting affairs in this Country will not admit of it. This Circumstance I have fully detailed in My former Communications to The department of State, And Verbally to Mr. Pickering & Walcott, Before I left Philadelphia, to Come as The Consul for The US. to Algrs. for The Settlement of The Peace Stipulation of Maratime and Military Stores. I have a turkish Certificate with The Seal of the regency Affixed thereto, and in The Same Manner for The first. two yrs. of The Annuities, & the Same for The Settlement of The 4 years Annuities in November last as detailed in My dispatches & Statements which you acknowledge to have recd. I think the whole of last novembr. dispatches fully explains, The Motives & amts. The disburstmints, and expenditures of Money on our affairs, So as to remove every difficulty on this Subject with The Secretary of the treasury.

You will please Sir to look at yr. letter which accompanied the 30 thousd dollars for the Cash payment of one yrs. annuities, and had I not there done as I did—The Amt. of The Cargo of the Washington would not have turned out, to more on the annuities then The One half which it cost in Philadelphia—it was by my haveing it in my power On the Cash paymt to Bribe The Ministry &c. That gave me The Opportunity of Obtaining extra prices on The Articles which Composed the Cargo of The Wn. & the Same System I had adopted in Settleing The peace Stipulations & the first 2 yrs. Annuities. I Observe that without The aid and influence of Bacris & Busnachs in this Country, That our affairs, would be badly of if left Entirely at The Mercy, of The dey and ministry.

in the margin: peace Stipulations of Stores and presents to ⟨Tunis⟩ amt. [. . .] Then Consider The Expences of The Voyage of The wn. [. . .]

On a Consul comeing to Algiers he must give the Usial Consular presents. The amt. Varies in Some respects relative to the nation he represents, and allso, how the affairs of his nation Stands with The Regency. On this Same Occasion, perhaps he might give Something extra, to keep impending difficulties at a distance in order to gain time to advise and remdie the evil. The Consular present will amt. from 17 to 21. Thsd. dollars, perhaps more or less. For this there is no receipt, ever given, by the dey, Ministry or any other person of this govt.

The Bennial present amounts if procured in Algiers to 15 or 17 thousd. dollars. No receipts is given for the Same but they are noted in The books of the Regency the time They are given So that they should know when they become again due.

All other Occasional and extraordinary presents feese gratuities &c. of every description given by a consul to The dey Ministry &c. no receipts whatsoever for the Same is given—The Consul Only Stateing The motive and amt. and necesity he was under for So doing to The Govt. he represents. What would the dey Ministry &c. directory Say to me if I demanded of them receipts for The Money and presents which I gave on the Settlemt. of the peace Stipulation, The 2 yrs. Annuities &c. On the Cash payment & Settlemt. of the 4 yrs. Annuities One did not know what the other did—nor yet knew What The other recd. but they might Suppose—but would any one of them under this Consideration have given me a receipt for The Sum of Money or presents he recd. His receipt in My power or in the power of anyone, That on an occasion inclined, to do the Same person an injury, would be in this Country Equal to putting his life & property into my power & possesion Further it is only by intermediate persons that business of this nature is Managed. The Jews at the directory acts as the ferryboats between The Consuls, The dey and Ministry, on all like Occasions of Bribes gratuities &c. on great affairs my letter with The Statement of accounts was dated The 25th. of Novembr. Would the Jews put Themselves in the power of the Consl. to give him receipts that They were a party in bribeing The ministry & that they recd. allso a gratuity for their Services and aid on the business. I beleive that Such Vouchers of this nature on all Such or like Occasions is never given in any Country even Where that, The house and papers of persons is Sacred or invoilable, but this is not the Case under This govt. Suspicion will take away the life of Any Suberit, but by detecting Such Vouchers As in Some respects as you require would be The destruction of The Ministry Jews directory and all persons Concerned in the Same. Even if it is not Safe in this Country for a Consul to record or note The Same although necesity & A regard to his official duty & Character Obliges him for if discoverd. it might throw him into Chains And his Country into A Sudden and destructive War of Seizing his fellow Citizens & confiscating their property Further whether the Consuls Signs The Jews accts. or the Jews Signs The Consuls, theire can be no great difference As to The Authenticity of the Same. This whole business Must depend On the Honour Honesty & Patriotism of The Consul, and if his nation Cannot put This required And necessary Confidence in him, They Should Send A person or persons whom they Could More fully depend and rely on. you will observe that the Customs of this Country is prior to our Laws whom cannot alter algerine Customs & Usages On all those affairs—If I have ever deviateing from My true Course in Studying & Steering for The interests of the UStates, it has been owing to Contrary winds Currents &c. that would make & Oblige me to fall of 3 or 5 points but whenever Circumstances permitted I Clung as Close to My Course as posibly in power and has never failed to detail the necesity of thus deviateing to my Owners The Govt of The US—and I trust that on reviewing my whole conduct in this long Voyage to Barbary That They and all Concerned will Consider that I have not made them a bad voyage. The Marketts was not good for sevrl. Articles, and further we had made no bargain or Stipulation that, we Should get what prices we thought proper All on this tack was left to The mercy and generosity of this Govmt.

Observe that When the present dey Came to be the head of this govt. that he demanded As a present, A Regalia in maratime & military Stores Equal to our peace Stipulation. This I, and the Swede evaded by a lucky Combination of events: but the dean Govt. acquised to give that regalia, and brought The first Cargo, of the Same, When the Swede Consl. & I Seen the necesity & policy of this only ⟨Singeing⟩ the dean & Saveing his govt. from Sending the rest, in order not to expose our managmt. on this business, to save our govts. from this great expence & prevent Us from being Obliged to acquise and bring The Same As is Customary for a new dey &ca. Ministry to demand & receive exclusive of other presents feese and gratuities.

Further When the Brig Mary Capt. Israil of Philadelph⟨ia⟩ belonging to Messrs. yard &c. was brought in to Algiers with a valuable Cargo of wine (Cherry) Said Vessel haveing no Meditteranean pass. or other requisite documents, With More than 1/2 a Crew, The Enemies of Algiers, by my exertions I Saved Vessel Cargo & Crew. I did my duty but those affairs with many others Seems to be buried in Oblivion in The department of State.

I shall presume to ask you Sir If you ever Seen the instructions which was given to me by the Ex Govt. for Conducting their affairs in Barbary. You will perceive that it is difficult to define the powers of a tributary consul to This Regency They seem to be of that nature & Substance That he is to act for The interests of his Country. This Sir I have not deviated from So far as has been in My power in order to Save The peace & prevent The US. from a Sudden War The Consequence thereof Must be well Known to you & Sensibly felt by my Seafaring Brethren whose lot ⟨would⟩ be Captivity.

I hope the US frigates in the Meditteranian will make The requisite impresion on the govt. of Tripoli So as to terminate The war agreeable to the present wish & desire of the President, but The Misunderstanding between the US. and Morrocco keeps 1/2 our Meditteranian force in the Vicinity of Gibraltir—This with the Success of the tripoli Corsairs in Captureing Swedes &c Americans will induce the Pascha of tripoli to demand perhaps more then the Govt. of The US. has authorized to give. Further last yr. tripoli offered to make a truce with Commodore Dale but it was rejected. Permit me to observe Sir that if we now purchase the peace with tripoli it is The Same thing as giveing A bounty to Algrs. & Tunis to do over acts and make extra demands. The war might have been prevented had My advice been followed As, detailed by me to Mr. Smith & The Secretary of State, and as Stated in My dispatches by The Ship Brutas Capt. brown which latter dispatches was recd. at The department of State, in december 1800—and Commodore Dale did not make his appearance at Gib from The US. until The latter end of June last year. I feel as a native Citizen of The US. a degradation that my Country after receiving from Tripoli Such Gross insults, Should Sue Search & purchase a peace from Tripoli the Most insignificantest power in The world. The Event & inducement might Answer a Mercantile idea but must be Humiliateing & dishonourable in a great degree to The Citizens in general of a great & riseing nation—however all in my power Shall be done to Contribute to The will & desire of The President of The UStates. Relative to keeping The dey of algiers in proper temper towards The UStates nothing Shall be Omited on my part, & to favour The Views of The Govt. but I am sorrow yr. letter is so barren or makes no mention of The Vessel & Stores on the Annuities being forwarded for Algrs. If yr. letter dated The 17th. of July 180⟨2.⟩ has as follows: I have only to add that no delay will be made in Collecting and forwarding the Bal⟨ance⟩ of The order of which The G W Cargo is The first. You have repeatedly been informed That Those articles is much looked for &c. Expected—the detention of them at this crisis might leave it out of my power even in the dowries to keep the dey & ministry in proper temper towards the UStates. To toutch on our peace with Tripoli with The dey he would expect a gratuity for his letter &c. Services—& he would first ask me where is The Stores on the Annuities the prest. bond of our friendship Therefore I have not thought it good policy to wake a sleeping Lyon—it might be the means of avoiding A small evil and running us on to a great one—nor do I renounce the Orriginal Idea that the influence of Algiers with Tunis & Particularly with Tripoli—on or relative to our Affairs Should not be omitted or abandoned.

It has falln. Through on acct. of difference of Opinion & for want of Oyle in The lookout lamps or Watch towers. The influence of Algiers is A more Effectul check on tripoli Then what our 2 yrs. frigates has proved to be.

Relative to The appointmt. of Mr. Cathcart as the Consul of the UStates, at Algiers, I apprehend there will be Some difficulty on this Subject from The following Considerations.

1. First That in The year of 1787, Mr. Cathcart was punished for A ⟨detec⟩tion with a Moorish woman, put in prison in The pallace and rec’d. 500 Bastenados and on this acct. would have lost his head but by The influence of Capt. George Smith, Then a page to The dey Bobba Mahomet, beged of, only to receive The floging.

2d. The Pascha of Tripoli, wrote The present dey of Algiers That, when the Portugee Ship of war Carried into tripoli the algerine Corsair & Crew in October 1800 that owing to the intreauges of Mr. Cathcart with The portugee Comdt. That it occasioned The Pascha of Tripoli to give 4. or 5 thsd. dollars for the Schooner Corsair, & this Circumstance ⟨got⟩ such a strong hold of the Brain of the dey that with all My reasoning arguments & Justification in favour of Mr. Cathcart that he was innocent of this malicious Charge, that notwithstanding I could not Errace the idea or stain from the Mind of the dey. This Circumstance I fully detailed to The Then Secretary of State but I presume, it did not Occur to him you, or The president when they Thought of Selecting Mr. Cathcart for Algiers.

3d. It is not Customary at Algiers to receive a Consul that has been a Consul with A moorish govt. as Morrocco Tunis or Tripoli. Algiers being A turk govt. Considers it to be beneath their dignity. Of This We have had Some Examples. 6 yrs. past The Govt. of Denmark appointed their Consul at Tunis to be the Consul at Algiers but on his arrival here this govt. rejected The Consul—and assigned As a motive that it was beneath their dignity & Contrary to Their Custom to receive A Consul from an inferiour Court & demanded Such a Consul as Denmark Would Send to Constantionople, or London. The Dean. Govt. had no alternative but to: appoint another & Sent here in Lieu, the prest. Dean Consul Mr. Bilee, Which was then a Capt. in the Marine of Denmark Further in november 1800 Mr. Skjoldebrand, The Swede Consul had a great difficulty in establishing Mr. Agrill as a temporary agent The Regency objected to him because he was the Swede Charge des affairs at Moroco & had A face like a moor. The wanted Aman with Something of a turk look & face, and finally Sweden Sent here the present Consul Judge Northerling well Known to All Americans as their friend during The war Which time he resided, As Swede Judge at St. Bartholomews The Regency objected to The appointment of the British Consul Falcon as An intreauging Character and, That he was too young His Govt. insisted That Mr. Falcon was a good Character & that The 2d. Objection he would be daily remidying. Those ⟨Subjects⟩ in Some respects I have detailed in My Koran dispatch by The Wn., but had a delicy in writing those Circumstances relative to Mr. Cathcart notwithstanding The fallshoods wrote by him & a Confederate Colleage against me to yr. office. They had their Views. I dispice Envy hatred & Malice & has Sufficient to do in this Country to attend to My Official duty.

Under These Considerations which in general must be unknown to you and the president, will not The appointment be Considered here More as an affair to insult & irritate Than to Consolidate friendship between This regency & the US.? and under these Considerations I have My fears that this Govt. will reject and not receive Mr. Cathcart, As the Consul for the UStates. If you Should disbelieve Me relative to the 1st. & 3d. Objections you Can Collect information from the prest. dutch Consul, whom was in Algiers in 1787. or of Any of the American Captives of 1785 now in the UStates & that was at Algiers, during The Event of The 500. Bastn.

Mr. Bille & Consul Norderling Can give you information on the 3d. Objection, & as to the 2d. I again observe it has fully been detailed by me to The dept. of State.

You will Observe that The late dey Hassien Bashaw Sollicited of The Govt. of the US. for Mr. Cathcart to be The Consul True, but you will Observe that Mr. Cathcart was a great favourite with Hasien Pascha Whom is no more. The present dey is a very differt. Character in Many respects, but The Then govt. of the US. had their Motives for not appointing Mr. Cathcart, to Algiers, notwithstanding they Knew his Abilities, and gave the appointment to me without my ever Searching or Seeking for The Same in Any respect, and further without ever Consulting me On the Subject, untill the public papers announ⟨ced⟩ to me, at Portland that I was to be The consul for The US. at Algiers.

I do not pertend to Say that those objections Cannot be overcome, removed or done away, but I have My fears that they Cannot be removed even in A temporary Manner with out money and presents, perhaps from 8 to 12 Thsd dollars, & perhaps they might be of That nature and have taken Such Root & Made Such Strong impres⟨ion⟩ On the heads of this govt. That Money and presents would not admit the will of the President haveing The desired Effect. Even Should Mr. Cathcart be received without any of those objections Still on Occasions, they will be revived and made a pretence for Sending of the Consul, after they have got The Consular present in order to pave the way, to have a new Consul, and receive new Consular presents, and to Stifle those Stated objections, the Consul will have Occasionally to be Makeing presents. Even That I had 99 friends to aid me in removeing with the dey & Ministry those objections which is ⟨ven⟩able They regency can Make notwithstanding One person in Opposition might So work on the dey as to do away the influence of the 99. which would be to aid me to Carry into Effect The will of The president.

Under These Considerations, Whatever Will be The Event I Shall Secure Myself with Such Vouchers as will in every respect Justify my conduct and prove that I left no Stone Unturned on my part to do What yr. letter of the 10th. of May requires and Shall not Consider Myself Justifyable in resideing Any longer in Algiers, if Mr Cathcart Shld. be rejected, Only in Case that my departure Should endanger the peace, and that The dey Will let me depart. It Must be evident to you After My repeated Applications, for a person to be Sent here As My Successor, that I Can have no desire of remaining in this Country, when once I have the Presidents leave to return to The UStates but this Event Might throw me and yr. affairs into a disagreeable Situation, but I need not assure you that nothing Shall be omited or left undone on My part to Serve The interests of The UStates and Contributeing My aid to have The will of the president haveing its desired effect. I shall give Mr. Cathcart if received here as Consul or any other person Whom the president Shall Send every information in my power relative to The Conducting in the best manner The affairs of the UStates with This regency—but Sir I think it incumbant on me to Keep possesion of all My own papers, Journals dispatches &c. to Ansr. in A Chiefe respect As Vouchers & Testimony of My Conduct in this Country dureing The time I have resided here as The Consul for The UStates. With These &c. I shall I trust be able to Justify My Conduct fully to The Govt. of The UStates, if They Should think proper to make An Enquiry into The Same, Or yet to require Any Explanation or informations relative to any Affairs Committed to My Charge or Care. Those papers, I shall if required give to The Dept. of State to peruse and have Copyed, in order to Send to The Consul whom Shall Succeed me. I am sorrow that funds is not forwarded to pay our debts at Algiers and to Sustain our Credit, as if neglected it will be the ruin of our affairs—except The US. establishes directly a Shure Credit Somewhere adjacent to Algiers Where the Consul will have it in his power to draw on for such Sums as Events or Emergencies will require.

You will permit me Sir to repeat and Observe that even ⟨if⟩ the UStates Should be at peace with all the Barbary States, that it will be requisite to keep in this Sea 4 frigates—without them what Security from Barbary Caprice will A Valuable and Extended Commerce of the US. have If not all will be left at The Mercy of the winds & waves This affair I fully explored in My notes on the peace with Algiers Tunis & Tripoli & the Same Was deposited in the office of State before I left Philadelphia with Presidt. Wn. Before the treaty of Algiers was ratifyed Capture of the Portugee frigt. and the arrangemt. of Spain with this regency in June last is much against The affairs of The deans Swedes Dutch & ⟨Us⟩ but The french from the 6th. to The 16th, of August in Some respects has humbled the pride of the dey. This I ⟨take⟩ to be a temporary affair. The dey will be induced in future to Wrangle with those That Cannot Awe him. He has to arrange an old Complaint with his friends the British. The Same time There is 2 portugee 74 Gunships a frigt. & Corvetta Cruising These 6 days of this port but There is none of the Algerine Corsairs at Sea. The Object of the portugeese is to try to Catch Some Algerine Corsairs or Cargoes of Merchandize—or a load of turks recruits from the levant in order to have it in their power to Make Something of a Change for The 400 portugee Captives here Which The dey demands for them One million of dollars The first cost which with the Usual 15 pr. Cent presents & Comisions will amt to nearly 1 1/2 Millions of dollars. The Same time this portugee Squadron Cruising of this port is to make The requisite impresion in order to effect the ransom and if within moderate bounds the peace for portugal The Spanish Consul is Charged to take and Embrace Any advantage or favorable opportunity which Should turn up to Obtain The 2 Objects in pursuit of. If The Portugeese Should Succeed in the peace the W. Ocean is free to Them And our Commerce As well as other nations is exposed in both Seas Under this Consideration I presume The President will See in A Stronger point of View The necesity Of ⟨our⟩ Keeping A Squadron of our frigates in this Sea to gaurd & protect & Keep the Evil minded in awe.

You mention That my bill in favour of Capt. Shaw is paid & one in favour of My Mother for 200 dollars You will observe Sir that the first is a public affair The latter is a private one out of my salary. I think The labourer is worthy of his hire, but do you intimate, That no draughts of mine for My Salary Shall be paid I Shall draw on you Sir for The whole amt. of My Salary and will thank you to let me know, what Sums is paid out of My Salary ⟨by⟩ The department of State, as I shall want to make a Remittance to pay a debt I owe for Money advan⟨ced⟩ me on My private account.

Permit me to observe that, on my Reviewing The Letters of Mr. Pickering Gn. Marshall Mr. Lee & yours of the 10th. of May that in general there is not that attentio⟨n⟩ paid to Barbary affairs which The magnitude of the business requires. Yr. letter of the 10th. has left the US. affairs without a Credit in the power of the Consul, and not A word, relative to the Vessel with The much looked for Annuity Stores &c. notwithstanding in my dispatches by the Wn. you must See how presing I have wrote you on the Subject. You will Consider Sir th⟨at⟩ the neglect Cannot be as anything personal to me It must tend to the prejudice of The interests of the US. in Such a Country as this If The Contents of yr. open letter of the 10th. had fallen into the Brain of the dey, he would Conclude that the US. did not intend to Send the required Stores on the Annuities and had in a manner protested or Quarrenteened the accts. of yr. own agent. This Circumstance might have given us a Su⟨dd⟩en War, for The Dey would Observe that if The US. intended to Send The Regalia that ⟨they⟩ would not omit mentioning it in a particular manner. It is Evident that yr. letter has been wrote in A hurry when Such A main point is omitted and I trust in future, that those requisite affairs—relative to Barbary will be fully attended to. If not, we might, have a war. Would not The US. make an Enquiry into The Cause of The great national Calamity. 7 wise & ⟨f⟩oolish Virgins, had no Oyl, in the Consular lamps on this occasion. The Consuls dispatches, & the letters he recd. in Ansr. from The department of State would Come before The Public That great Tribunal which would Judge. Permit me to inform you that in Sweden Denmark and Batavia there is Committees established to aid The department of state in the affairs of Barbary, which makes all affairs Move go & Come in order. I am in Some respects Sensible of the Multiplicity of business which you have to Attend to, but being fully Sensible of my official duty as The Servt. of The US. I am under The necesity of Stateing to you those facts and Circumstances, and with all due respect ⟨sub⟩miting Them to your Superior wisdom and abilities. I beleive Sir If I have a Right Idea of yr. Character you would Consider it in me to be a Crime of the greatest magnitude in not giveing you this requisite information, which if attended to will I hope tend to The interests of the US. but if neglected, The result must be evident to you and all whom it doth or may Concern.

Our affairs with Barbary as yet has not been fully discused in order to establish A System. On My arrival at The departmt. of state I hope I shall be able to inform you of many particulars which will promote our affairs much in this Country. The US. named first a Norfolk Capt as Consul for Algrs. He was not to be found, next Sent or named an ambasador He went to his long home. Next appointed Paul Jones He died in Paris. Next The mision of Mr Lamb and Randel well known to The prest. Presidt. Next Col. Humphreys Mr. Donaldson, Skjoldebrand Junior & Mr. Barlow—Mr. famin Mr. Clarke as Charge des affairs—untill I have been the first Consul of The US. regularly established at Algiers. Of Course from all those there must be a variety of information but Should A Consul Steer by a system Chart made 6 yrs. past his Courses at prest. he and his nations affairs would Soon go to ruin.

The Chiefe of My Motives for requesting, That, the US Govt. would Send a person to algiers to be Charged with theire affairs, orriginated from the following Considerations. First, That I do not enjoy a good state of health. Next That The Govt. of the US. neglected their Stipulations and left The Consul without funds or a credit only As he Searched for the latter Next That The purport of My dispatches was not attended to. From these Considerations, The result would be war & losses, and perhaps by my arrival in at The US. I might give Such informat⟨ion⟩ As would prevent it. Next That I had A young family, which in Case of extraordinary events, and the Custom of this barbarous Country would be The Victims of Slavery and despotism, and that to give them a Security in The land of liberty was a duty incumbant ⟨on⟩ me that had experienced and is fully Sensible of what would be Their lot and fate, on extra events. Both the old and prest. administ⟨ration⟩ was in a main point of View The Same thing to me That was of no party, but That of the faithfull Servts. of the UStates.

I pray you Sir to View The purport of this long letter in a true and favou⟨rable⟩ light That nothing has induced me to its Contents—but to Serve and Contribute to The interests of The US. and for The requisite information for The department of State. I pray you will present my most respectfull dutifull Thanks to The presidt. Be you ever Convinced Sir of ⟨the⟩ Sincere regd. and Esteem with which I have The honour to be Very respectfully yr. most obet. S⟨ervt.⟩

Richd. OBrien

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