« PreviousContinue »
Extract of a Letter from Mr. Lear, Consul General at Al
giers, to the Secretary of State. On board the American ship Allegany, at sea, July 29, 1812.
66 On the 17th inst. I had the honour to receive your respected favours of the 6th February and 29th of April, 1812, by captain Ebenezer Eveleth, of the ship Allegany, which arrived at Algiers on that day, with the four new Mediterranean passports, two hundred tops, and the several packages containing messages, reports, newspapers, &c. together with the letter of Richard Forrest, Esq. covering the invoice and bill of lading of the ship Allegany, sent from the United States with a cargo of naval and military stores for the regency of Algiers, in fulfilment of treaty stipulations.
6. I must delay replying to the particular points in your letter of the 29th April, until I shall have given an account of the most unexpected and extraordinary event which I believe has ever taken place, even in the extraordinary events of Algiers, in order that I may have it ready to transmit, in case I should meet any vessel bound to the United States.
“ On the arrival of the Allegany, the dey and the officers of the regency expressed
the most entire and complete satisfaction; and until the 20th inst. when they began to discharge the cargo, there was no appearance of any other sentiment. On that day a large quantity of spars and plank were taken on board a lighter, by the people of the marine, to be carried on shore, by order of the minister of marine, but they were not landed. At noon the minister sent to request a note of the articles, and their quantity, which were on board the ship for the regency, that he might lay it before the dey in the evening, agreeably to his orders. I accordingly sent the note, taken from the invoice, but without affixing the prices. At 6 P. M. I received a message by my drogerman, from the minister of marine, informing me that when he laid my note of the articles before the dey, he became very outrageous on finding there was only fifty small barrels of gunpowder and four cables on board ; when the note sent to the Unit. ed States in 1810, as furnished by the minister of marine,
demanded five hundred quintals of gunpowder, and twentyseven large cables, besides a very large quantity of cordage and other articles, as may be seen by said note, forwarded in my letter of August, 1810, to the honourable the Secretary of State ; and told the minister that he would not receive the cargo, but would send the ship away from Algiers, and that I must depart in her, as he would not have a consul in his regency, who did not cause every thing to be brought exactly as he (the dey) ordered.
“ Early on the morning of the 21st, I waited on the minister of the marine to inquire into this procedure, when he confirmed all that had been told me by the drogerman, and added many other expressions of anger and disgust of the dey.
5 I reasoned with him on the subject, stating that it had never been usual to send the whole of such large orders at one time; that we had been very punctual in our payments, and that the cargo of this vessel would probably pay
all that we owed ; that cargoes had always come in this manner, assorted, with a part of each article, and that I had never before found any difficulty ; that powder and cables were articles of which we did not make enough for our own use in the United States, and that it was almost impracticable, at this time, to bring them from other countries, as was well known to himself and all the world; that in the present distracted state of nations, it was possible that the United States might be forced into a war, and that it behooved our government not to be destitute of so essential an article of defence as gunpowder ; but that on a future occasion we might be able to send more ; with many other remarks, which he allowed to be reasonable, but said that the dey was determined ; and that when he had once fixed a resolution he never departed from it. And added, that the dey insisted upon having every thing brought which he ordered, without regarding whether it amounted to more than the sum stipulated in the treaty or not; and that I must depart on Thursday the 23d instant, on board the the Allegany, with all the Americans now in Algiers.
i wished to see the dey, and for that purpose desired an audience, which was denied me.
" I then requested that a few more days might be allowed for my remaining, that I might prepare myself, as it was impossible to make any arrangement of my affairs in so short a time, hoping in the mean time, to make some accommodation of this business. The answer was that the dey would not allow an hour more.
“I wrote a circular to the christian consuls in Algiers, informing them of my ordered departure.
“ The spars and plank which were taken out of the vessel yesterday, were returned on board this morning. In the morning of the 22d, I sent my drogerman to the palace to say that I wished to make a settlement of the cargo of the brig Paul Hamilton which had been delayed, by a request from the palace until the Allegany should arrive, when a settlement could be made for both vessels at the same time.
“ The request was granted, and the drogerman informed me that the dey wished me to bring our treaty with me, that we might see the time when it commenced, the terms, &c. in order to make a final settlement of our accounts. This I did, and while I was settling the account of the Paul Hamilton's cargo with the prime minister and secretaries, in the usual manner, the dey's drogerman came down, and said, the dey wished to see the treaty which I had brought. I gave it to him without hesitation, supposing that the dey might wish to see something in it, or that he might compare it with that which was in the palace. But when I demanded the treaty again, the dey refused to deliver it, saying, by his drogerman, that when a consul was sent away, he the dey should always keep his treaty, and that such had ever been the custom at Algiers.
“ After settling the account of the cargo of the Paul Hamilton, which amounted to $12,109, and producing a tiscary or acknowledgment of a balance due to the United States, which had been given in February 1810, at the settlement of the cargoes of the ship Resource and brig Blanchy, for $26,065; the minister and secretaries said there was still $27,000 due to the present time. This I denied, as I had the receipts of the regency for the payment of annuities for fourteen and a half years, exclusive of the amount of the cargo of the Paul Hamilton and the
tiscary, for $26,065, and as our treaty was concluded on the 5th of September, 1795, it would be only seventeen years in the whole, from which the fourteen and a half years were to be deducted, leaving two and a half years ending the 5th of September next, and amounting to $54,000, from which deducting the cargo of the Paul Hamilton, and the tiscary before mentioned, would leave but $15,826, and which I had no doubt but the cargo of the ship Allegany would fully pay, if it should be received.
«The minister then observed, that they counted the year by the Mahometan calendar consisting of three hundred and fifty-four days, so that the difference in seventeen years would make it one half year more than we counted. I told him that I had always reckoned the years in the christian manner of three hundred and sixty-five days; and that I presumed the same was done by all other consuls having accounts of a similar nature with the regency. He said it was never so done, or allowed by the regency, and immediately sent up a note to the dey, of the sum due by his account, viz: $27,000.
“After a short time the dey sent down word by his drogerman, that the balance must be paid immediately in cash, and that the vessel, with myself, &c. must depart tomorrow as he had ordered. I answered that it was impossible for me to comply with the dey's order, even if I acknowledged the balance to be just, and had every disposition to pay it, as I had not the means of obtaining the money, especially as the cargo of the ship now in port was sent by my government for the express purpose of paying what might be due to the regency, and was the strongest possible evidence of our punctuality in fulfilling our engagements.
“ The prime minister then went up to the dey, with the drogerman, and soon returned, saying that the dey persisted in his first order, that the money should be paid inmediately; or that I should be sent to the marine in chains, the vessel and cargo confiscated, and all the citi. zens of the United States now in Algiers be detained in slavery, and war instantly declared against the United States.
“ I told the minister that the matter was now brought to a decision, and that I must go to the marine in chains, for
it was not possible for me to obtain the money; and had no more to say on the subject, but would warn them of the evil which they were bringing on themselves, by such unjust and outrageous conduct.
“ The minister went to the dey a second tiine, when I demanded to accompany him; but was refused, and soon returned with what he said was the fixed and unalterable resolution of the dey, viz. that he would allow me till Saturday morning the 25th inst. to pay the money and depart with the vessel and all other Americans in Algiers; but if this was not done, he should confiscate the vessel, detain in slavery all the Americans in Algiers, and declare war against the United States as he had before determined. The minister also added, that the dey had been informed that the ship had brought a large quantity of coffee, for sale, and some other articles not intended for him (meaning, I suppose, the gun barrels, &c. for the emperor of Morocco; but whence he could have got the information of the latter I know not, for I had never mentioned a syllable of it to any one in Algiers. I have since learned that it was discovered by some means or other, when the planks and spars were taken out of the vessel on Monday ;) and that he was, if possible, more highly incensed at this, than on any other account ; saying that he considered it an insult offered, by having merchandise embarked on board a vessel which was said to have been sent for the sole purpose of bringing the annuity.
“ As I was determined that nothing should be wanting on my part to settle this unpleasant, and to me, unaccountable business, I proposed to the prime minister, that the articles now sent by the Allegany should be received and passed to our credit, in the usual manner of seltling the accounts of cargoes, when they had the power of fixing their own prices, and that'whatever balance might appear due, after such settlement, should be paid in cash
if the dey desired it; and that he might send a note of such articles as he expected for the next annuity, which I would forward to my government, with such observations on the propriety or necessity of sending the whole of them, as the dey should express. By this means, if the proposition should be accepted, time would be given to make preparations for future events, or at any rate our commerce in this sea might have