James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Richard O’Brien, 11 October 1802

From Richard O’Brien, 11 October 1802

Algiers The 11th. of October 1802

Esteemed Sir,

On the Evening of The 6th. Inst. arrived at Algiers in 16 days from Tripoli Capt Morris his mate and Three mariners two of his Crew being British and 2 french were Claimed and given up at Tripoli to the Consuls of their nations—this American Crew were applyed for by letter by the dey of Algiers at my request in The name of The UStates, on the 5th. and 7th. of July to be given up to him by the Pascha of Tripoli—whom Could not refuse the friendly and presing request of the dey of Algiers.

On the morning of The 7th. The dey Sent Capt. Morris and Crew to The american house with his Compliments That he had made those Americans procured by him from Tripoli as a present, to The Govt. of the United States I greased The fist of the Bearer of this Message—and wishing The favour to Cool I went On the day of The 8th. to thank The dey in the name of The UStates. The dey Observed, That he Should be happy in rendering A Service of More importance to The UStates, Alluding to our peace with Tripoli—and that he would if required put his hand to The Business. I much thanked Patroon Grandi—whom Observed that one hand washed the other and both The face. The dey inquired when I expected the Vessel with The Timber &c. from The U.S. I hope Said Vessel will arrive here Shortly. Relative to the Appointment of Mr. Cathcart the dey was much dissatisfyed Said he wanted here an American with a Clean face, That he would never accept of Any Such Character, and That he would write a letter by Capt Morris to The President of the UStates and for me to explain fully his Motives for Objecting to receive Mr. Cathcart. That he was an Enemie to Algiers & tripoli and of Course not a fit agent for The Ustates to have in Barbary.

As The dey had wrote a very strong letter on our affairs to The Pascha of Tripoli, when he demanded Capt Morris & Crew The Pascha of Tripoli has Answered The dey, that for his face he would enter into a negotiation with the Americans and had Empowered his Ambasador which Came with Capt. Morris to Algiers, to Conclude The business provided I had powers and it should be the deys presing request. It has been intimated to me by One of the Ministry here that The Terms of our peace at the first demand will be as Viz

in Cash for Tripoli  60 Thousd. dollars. } as on all affairs with Barbary The Custom of those Govts. is to demand a great Sum at first in order to see what you might offer. Their ideas is extravagt. but Could in my Opinion be much reduced.
presents  10.
Extraordinarys.   5.
The dey of Algiers  30
Ministry  10.
Extraordinary   5.
Tripoli & Algiers† 120 Thsd. dollars

The Pascha of tripoli does not Seem inclineable to make the peace independant of the dey of Algiers as it might incur his displeasure and The result would be that the Govt of Tunis might Commit an over act against Tripoli—and that power had no Claim of friendship on Algiers, further with force in the power of the Consul at Algiers he will allways have it in his power to keep tripoli Subservant to Algiers and allso on many of the US. affairs relative to Tunis.

But when the Pascha of tripoli began to growl three years past, and I had refered The Opinion of Mr. Cathcart & Eaton, with My Opinion to Mr. Smith he ansd. he would refer the business to the Govt. of The UStates but agreed in Opinion with Eaton & Cathcart. I was for Sending to Tripoli at once by the hand of the dey 10 Thsd. dollars. So that difference of Opinion neglect and a hatred to the Consul at Tripoli—as the Pascha of tripoli declares, Occasioned The war the Presidt. that ordered the Peace with Tripoli was no more this Was officially—Announced to all tripoli—and next the dey that gaurenteed it went to his long home, and it required money and presents to give our peace their security at Tripoli and Algiers.

If we purchase the peace with Tripoli, it will be giveing a bounty to Algrs. and Tunis to Make extraordinary demands, or to search for difficulties this you May be assured of—but if we dash at Tripoli denmark we will Secure our peace with Swede Tunis and rusia Algiers.

I would advise with all due respect, that The Govt. of The UStates Should Send, 4. of our large frigates & 4 Schooners, with 40 Thousd. dollars, & 10 Thsd. to be given to those whom would there render you a Service this force to be of The port of Tripoli by The first day of May—to Send A flag on Shore and by The aid of Mr. Bryan McDonough—and farfara both of the greatest influence with the Pascha of Tripoli—for them to go to work & tell The Pascha—that this force Came to prosecute the war with rigour. I will undertake to Say that this plan would Succeed, and I would again make the dey of Algiers to gaurentee the treaty of tripoli and appoint McDonough the Consul for the UStates at Tripoli. I would give the dey 20 Thsd. dollars & his Ministry &c. 10. Then as long as this dey & Ministry existed you may be Assured of your peace with Tripoli.

I believe the US. has inadvertantly done an injury to McDonough. I believe he is a good man and has ever been a sincere friend to the UStates. And if we have done the man of humanity an injury in The name of God & Justice do him Justice do that which you ought to do. Believe me you are Misinformed. The Bearer of this dispatch Can give you real information on this Subject and of All others relative to Tripoli.

I believe that Mr. Cathcart & Mr. Bryan McDonough was not on friendly Terms at Tripoli McDonough was the first person ever thought of for The American Consul at Tripoli. This Mr. Barlow Considered to be policy to give him that post but by a malicious letter from Tripoli to Hasien Bashaw, this was laid aside. The Same time he rendered our Affairs Services of magnitude much contributed to The liberation of the US. Brig Sophia then under my command with a great Sum of the Public Money. He was the protector & friend to The american prisoners The Crew of the Ship Betsey. When Mr. Cathcart arrived in tripoli he rendered our Affairs his Services—but The Agent of The US. was Jealouse of his fame and prospect with the dept. of State He got himself into difficulties & Charged them on to the Innocent McDonough—wrote against him to Comodore Dale & Mr. King A Complaint was lodged and McDonough Then Shure of being the British Consul was disappointed in Consequence of the information Communicated to Mr. King & by him to the British Minister. Documents of the first Magnitude will prove What I thus detail to you. Let us Study the interests of the UStates The Same time do Justice to Man.

When I got the dey on the 5th. and 7th. July to write to The Pascha of tripoli I informed The dey and Ministry that for Capt Morris &c. Crew—9. in all I would not go further Then 5 Thsd. dollars but as only 5 is arrived here notwithstanding I keep to my Word to be answerable to the dey for The Sum of 5 Thousand dollars—but in the Manner those 5 Americans is Sent to me by the dey I conclude his Views is much beyond The 5 Thsd. dollars. I had my motives for letting this business Cool, as the dey’s presents, to The Pascha of tripoli is in Answer, as Viz

10 Thsd. Measures of wheat

A Gold Sheathed Sword

A pair of pistols—Elegant

A Caftan Suposed Value 125 dolrs. or 150

A ring—500 dollars

To The Ambasador & Suit Awatch and Money—Amt. About—1000 Dollrs.

With Capt Morris & mate & 3 men the Pascha of tripoli Sent 10 Negros, 5 of this number Eunichs. To this Vessel with now The deys presents in return for tripoli the dey demanded My Pass & Certificate I have given the same as pr. Copy.

It seems the Deans in August to prevent a war with Tripoli has given the Bashaw—30 Thsd. dollars for 5 Years peace and An Annuity of 5 Thsd. dollars, and presents Supose thus The 5 yrs. will Cost denmark 50 Thsd. dollars. Have not the deans a great Marine.

The french Consul is Charged by his govt. to make the peace of Sweden with Tripoli. It seems by every information it will be Concluded on the following Terms, as Viz.

peace  60 Thsd. dollars  Swedes in Sept. 1802.
ransom  60 Thsd. Captives 152. & 29. at Algrs. Supose included
presents  10
130 Thsd. dollars with an Annuity of 5 Thsd. dollrs. and This business Gaurenteed by Bonapart.

The dutch admiral De Winter arrived at Tripoli The Month of Sept. and will have to give the Same nearly as the deans.

The french has given tripoli A Corsair of 14 Guns & presents Supose in all 25 Thsd. dollars. Has not Bonapart his Views.

In Algiers tripoli purchased lately a fine 16 Gun Corsair from the British—which with others & 6. at present below Sicille—with the peace with The Deans dutch Swedes Spanish french British rusians imperials regusies and portugal—will not Tripoli Corsairs—have it in their power to Capture American Vessels. I have my fears, that Shortly you will be informed of Several Americans being Carried to Tripoli and I pray your attention to The proposed plan of 4 frigts. &c. with them The Money it is everything in Barbary—Cash in hand. Further Observe that if The Vessel with The annuities does not arrive here Shortly I will be obliged—to Make Sacrafices you Know—we are in debt and has not a shure Credit. For all particulars relative to Tripoli I refer you to The Bearer Capt Morris. I am Sir respectfully your Most Obt. Servt.

Richd. OBrien

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