George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Nathaniel Skinner, 8[–15] October 1793

From Nathaniel Skinner

Cadiz [Spain] Octr 8[–15]th 1793


I do my Self the Honor to confirm the contents I address to your Excellency of Last Night which was pen’d with so much haste to go by the Mail for Lisbon that I cannot transmit a Copy thereof not having time then to transcribe it.1

The purport was that in consequence of at peace being negotiated (by Mr Logie Consul for great Britian 2) with the Algerines for the Portugeuse for Twelve months the algerine fleet passed the Straits on the 6th bound to the westward on a Cruise which News is this day confirm’d from Various quarters & the additional observations that their High Mightinesses of the united Provinces being included has same foundation.

hear with is inclosed a Letter from David Humphreys Esqr. relative to the Business as said by his Letter to J. Iznardi junr Esqr. Concil for this port but not yet arrived from america, It was handed to James Duff Esqr. his Britannic Magestys Consul for this place, Mr Iznardis patron, who requested me to forward the Same. I hope it may earley reach your Excelencys hands3—Americans from the most pleasing, are now in the most disagreable situation here. To go out they have only perpetual slavery in view to remain prehaps long loathsome imprisonment, sad alternative, suc⟨h⟩ are the machinations of the enimes of america & of the liberties of mankind—much clamor has and does still prevail relative to the equi⟨p⟩ments of or by the French in the american Ports notwithstanding Your Excellencys Proclamation relative there to & the opinio⟨n⟩ of the judges relative to the treaties,4 Pardon me Sir—for presumeing to address you I have no right but as a well wisher to the interests of America of which I have the honor to be a naturalized citizen a resident of Boston, here on commercial affairs and finding a number of my fellow citizens as well as my self in tribulation with no one officially to represent them, the State of Americans vessells in this vicinity is five in Malaga; three in Gibraltar; thirteen in this Port; and advice of many who must be near here if not already captured they having Sail’d previous to some just arrived. the Algerine fleet consists of four Frigates. Viz. one of 44 Guns just off the Stocks, two of 36. one of 28. Three Xebecks of 12. guns each. one, first said to be two Brigs of 22 do. their delination is said to be for Lisbon but which is Little credited, the american Ship Greenway Amos Oakman is Condemnd Vessell & Cargo at the Court of Caracas but which sentence waits the final dicision at Madrid She had on board French property bound from Bordeaux to St Thomas the Cargo condemnd as French the Ship for false declaration the fate of the Ship Rooksby Jones not yet determin’d but presume the cargo being French by information will be condemn’d & no demur on part of the Master the Ship will be releas’d only to be confind here now by pirates her freight &c. to be paid. The Spaniards lament the affair as it will enhance the price of bread so much—their harvest produceing this year little & small Supplies from any place but america, but from thence what can they expect for americans cannot venture that they Love so much & Know so well the sweets of Liberty Tho the Temptation may be great. The Brit⟨is⟩h Merchants expect strong convoys will be appointed, as their Vessells are but poorly employ’d in Europe to go to america and be carriers of its p[r]oduce to these parts. Last Nights Post advises of a British Frigate having or being on the eve of Departure from England in which embarks a respected character as Envoy to the American Court, Enclos’d I do my Self the honor to transmit the form of the Treaty Enterd into between the courts of Spain & England. most probably it is already forwarded 5 this & every other step I have taken to forward Information will not I hope be attributed to any unworthier motive than a zeal to throw in what trifle lays in my power to serve the Country I admire—for Commercial Information I annex a List of Americans Vessels in this & adjacent ports 6 & would add that the Premium of Insurance demanded on american & Genoese vessells is Thirty prCent to return Ten should they get in safe, this will of course give an Idea of the apprehended Danger.

9th Letters in town from Mr Carmichael recommend all americans to proceed home with all dispatch he did not probably Know of this Algriine business & we expect he refers to an other fear.7

15th The wind & some other causes preventing the departure of the vessell—who runs every risk to convey intelligence to America gives me occasion to notice that two of the Algerine frigates cruizing of[f] Cape St Vincents boarded an English Brig who in consequence is performing quarantine at St Lucar, as is also another in Gibraltar who was boarded by a Ship of 22 guns—the advice of which ships sailing was that she passed two days after the fleet.

The Morning Starr—& another New York vessell—are in Carthegena—as advised this day.8 With the most profound respect I am Your Excellencys Humble Servt

Nathl Skinner

LS, DNA: RG 59, Consular Despatches, Algiers. This letter was docketed in part, “recd 14 May.”

1Skinner was referring to his previous letter to GW, dated 8 Oct. and presumably written on the evening of 7–8 October.

2Charles Logie became the British consul at Algiers in 1785 and left that post in late 1793 or early 1794.

3This enclosure was most likely a copy of David Humphreys’s letter to Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson of 6 Oct. (Jefferson Papers description begins Julian P. Boyd et al., eds. The Papers of Thomas Jefferson. 40 vols. to date. Princeton, N.J., 1950–. description ends , 27:196–98).

4Skinner was referring to GW’s Neutrality Proclamation of 22 April, and to the charges of John Jay to the grand jury of the circuit court for the District of Virginia, 22 May, and of James Wilson to the grand jury of a special session of the circuit court for the District of Pennsylvania, 22 June, each of which held that proclamation to be consistent with the treaty obligations of the United States (Documentary History of the Supreme Court description begins Maeva Marcus et al., eds. The Documentary History of the Supreme Court of the United States, 1789–1800. 8 vols. New York, 1985-2007. description ends , 2:380–91, 414–23).

5Skinner was referring to the convention of 25 May 1793, by which Spain and Great Britain joined in an alliance against France (ASP, Foreign Relations description begins Walter Lowrie et al., eds. American State Papers. Documents, Legislative and Executive, of the Congress of the United States. 38 vols. Washington, D.C., Gales and Seaton, 1832–61. description ends , 1:277). The enclosed copy has not been identified.

6The annexed list has not been identified, but for another list of the American vessels at Spanish ports in mid-October 1793, see “Ship News,” Dunlap and Claypoole’s American Daily Advertiser (Philadelphia), 20 Dec. 1793.

7The remainder of this letter is in Skinner’s writing.

8The brig Morning Star remained at Cartagena, Spain, until January 1794 and arrived back at New York on 7 March 1794. Her companion was probably the brig Mary Ann. For more on those ships, see Henry Stephens, James Neill, and Ebenezer Rosseter to Don Miguel Gaston, 23 Nov. 1793, Diary; or, Evening Register (New York), 7 March 1794.

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