George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Edmund Randolph, 28 February 1794

From Edmund Randolph

[Philadelphia] Feb. 28. 94. ½ past 11.

The Secretary of State has the honor of inclosing to the President two letters from Colo. Humphries, this moment received. His mission to Algiers is prohibited by the Dey, who refuses a passport. Colo. H: incloses two letters one in French, the other in a very cross hand; the former is translating; and the latter copying for the President; as they are connected with the Algerine affairs.1

As it is probable, that these papers will be sent to congress, Copies are directed for both houses.2

AL, DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters; LB, DNA: RG 59, GW’s Correspondence with His Secretaries of State.

1The enclosed letters from David Humphreys, the U.S. minister to Portugal and commissioner plenipotentiary to Algiers, were those to the secretary of state of 19 and 23 Nov. 1793, both written at Alicante, a Spanish port on the Mediterranean Sea. Humphreys’ enclosures were in his letter of 23 November. The letter in French actually was a copy of two letters. One was from Mathias Skjöldebrand, the Swedish consul at Algiers, and the other was from his brother Pierre Eric Skjöldebrand, both written at Algiers on 12 Nov. 1793. The second letter also was a copy of more than one document, and it was written using a technique called cross writing, which is produced by turning a finished page and writing across the lines at right angles. This copy contained a letter from Algerine captive Richard O’Bryen (O’Brien) to Humphreys of 12 Nov. 1793, and O’Bryen’s detailed description of the “Algerine Maritime Force” of the same date. A copy of Capt. John McShane’s letter to Humphreys of 13 Nov., describing the recent capture of his ship Minerva and containing a list of other American ships and crews detained in Algiers, also was enclosed by Humphreys. The letters received by Randolph on 28 Feb. are in DNA: RG 59, Despatches from U.S. Ministers to Portugal.

2Copies of Humphreys’ letters and the above enclosures were submitted with GW’s letter to the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives of 3 March 1794. For the copies and translations sent to Congress, see DNA: RG 233, Third Congress, 1793–95, House Records of Legislative Proceedings, Journals; see also 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 , 1:413–18.

Index Entries