« AnteriorContinuar »
of the vessel and cargo, as far as their condition admitted. This was a happy presage of the liberal treaty he afterwards concluded with our agent, still under the friendly mediation of Spain, and at an expense of between nine and ten thousand dollars only. On his death, which has taken place not long since, it becomes necessary, according to their usage, to obtain immediately a recognition of the treaty by his successor, and consequently, to make provision for the expenses which may attend it. The amount of the former furnishes one ground of estimate ; but the character and dispositions of the successor, which are unknown here, may influence it materially. The friendship of this power is important, because our Atlantic as well as Mediterranean trade is open to his
annoyance, and because we carry on a useful commerce with his nation.
The Algerines had also taken two vessels of the United States, with twenty-one persons on board, whom they retained as slaves. On the arrival of the agent sent to that regency, the dey refused utterly to treat of peace on any terms, and demanded 59,496 dollars for the ransom of our captives. This mission therefore proved ineffectual.
While these negotiations were on foot at Morocco and Algiers, an ambassador from Tripoli arrived in London. The ministers plenipotentiary of the United States met him in person. He demanded for the peace of that State, thirty thousand guineas; and undertook to engage that of Tunis for a like sum. These demands were beyond the limits of Congress, and of reason, and nothing was done. Nor was it of importance, as, Algiers remaining hostile, the peace of Tunis and Tripoli was of no value, and when that of the former should be obtained, theirs would soon follow.
Our navigation, then, into the Mediterranean, has not been resumed at all since the peace. The sole obstacle has been the unprovoked war of Algiers; and the sole remedy must be to bring that war to an end, or to palliate its effects. Its effects may, perhaps, be palliated by insuring our ships and cargoes destined for that sea, and by forming a convention with the regency, for the ransom of our seamen, according to a fixed tariff. That tarifl will, probably, be high, and the rate of insurance so settled, in the long run, as to pay for the vessels and cargoes captured, and something more. What proportion will be captured nothing but experience can determine. Our commerce differs from that of most of the nations with whom the predatory States are in habits of war. Theirs is spread all over the face of the Mediterranean, and therefore must be sought for all over its face. Ours must all enter at a strait only five leagues wide ; so that their cruisers, taking a safe and commanding position near the strait's mouth, may very effectually inspect whatever enters it. So safe a station, with a certainty of receiving for their prisoners a good and stated price, may tempt their cupidity to seek our vessels particularly. Nor is it certain that our seamen could be induced to engage in that navigation, though with the security of Algerine faith that they would be liberated on the payment of a fixed sum. The temporary deprivation of liberty, perhaps chains, the danger of the pest, the perils of the engagement preceding their surrender, and possible delays of the ransom, might turn elsewhere the choice of men, to whom all the rest of the world is open. In every case, these would be embarrassments which would enter into the merchants' estimate, and endanger the preference of foreign bottoms not exposed to them. And upon the whole, this expedient does not fulfil our wish of a complete re-establishment of our commerce in that sea.
A second plan might be to obtain peace by purchasing it. For this we have the example of rich and powerful nations, in this instance counting their interest more than their honor. If, conforming to their example, we determine to purchase a peace, it is proper to inquire what a peace may cost. This being merely a matter of conjecture, we can only compare together such opinions as have been obtained, and from them form one for ourselves.
'Mr. Wolf, a respectable Irishman, who had resided very long at Algiers, thought a peace might be obtained from that regency, and the redemption of our captives included, for sixty or seventy thousand pounds sterling. * His character and opinion both merited respect. Yet his estimate being the lowest of all who have hazarded an opinion on this subject, one is apt to fear his judgment might have been biassed by the hope he entertained that the United States would charge him with this negotiation.
Captain O'Brien, one of our captives, who had been in Algiers four years and a half at the date of his last letter, a very sensible man, and to whom we are indebted for very minute information, supposes that peace alone, might be bought for that sum, that is to say, for three hundred and twenty-two thousand dollars.
The Tripoline ambassador, before mentioned, thought that peace could be made with the three smaller powers for ninety thousand pounds sterling, to which were to be added the expenses of the mission and other incidental expenses. But he could not answer for Algiers; they would demand more. The ministers plenipotentiary, who conferred with him, had judged that as much must be paid to Algiers as to the other three powers together; and consequently, that according to this measure, the peace of Algiers would cost from an hundred to an hundred and twenty-five thousand pounds sterling; or from four hundred and sixty to five hundred and seventy-five thousand dollars.
The latter sum seemed to meet the ideas of the Count de Vergennes, who, from a very long residence at Constantinople, was a good judge of what related to the porte, or its dependencies.
A person whose name is not free to be mentioned here, a native of the continent of Europe, who had long lived, and still lives at Algiers, with whom the minister plenipotentiary of the United States, at Paris, had many and long conversations, and found his information full, clear, and consistent, was of opinion the peace of Algiers could not be bought by the United States for less than one million of dollars. And when that is paid, all is not done. On the death of a dey, (and the present one is between severity and eighty years of age,) respectable presents must be made to the successor, that he may recognize the treaty;
* See No. 1 accompanying this report.
and very often he takes the liberty of altering it. When a con. sul is sent or changed, new presents must be made. If these events leave a considerable interval, occasion must be made of renewing presents. And with all this they must see that we are in condition to chastise an infraction of the treaty; consequently some marine force must be exhibited in their harbor from time to time.
The late peace of Spain with Algiers is said to have cost from three to five millions of dollars. Having received the money, they take the vessels of that nation on the most groundless pretexts; counting, that the same force which bound Spain to so hard a treaty, may break it with impunity,
Their treaty with France, which had expired, was about two years ago renewed for fifty years. The sum given at the time of renewal is not known. But presents are to be repeated every ten years, and a tribute of one hundred thousand dollars to be annually paid. Yet perceiving that France, embarrassed at home with her domestic affairs, was less capable of acting abroad, they took six vessels of that nation in the course of the last year, and retain the captives, forty-four in number, in slavery.
It is the opinion of Captain O'Brien, that those nations are best treated who pay a smaller sum in the beginning, and an annual tribute afterwards. In this way he informs us that the Dutch, Danes, Swedes, and Venetians pay to Algiers, from twenty-four to thirty thousand dollars a year, each ; the two first in naval stores, the two last chiefly in money. It is supposed, that the peace of the Barbary States costs Great Britain about sixty thousand guineas, or two hundred and eighty thousand dollars a year.
But it must be noted that these facts cannot be authentically advanced ; as from a principle of self-condemnation, the governments keep them from from the public eye as much as possible.
Nor must we omit finally to recollect, that the Algerines, attentive to reserve always a sufficient aliment for their piracies, will never extend their peace beyond certain limits, and consequently, that we may find ourselves in the case of those nations to whom they refuse peace at any price.
The third expedient is to repel force by force. Several statements are hereto annexed of the naval force of Algiers, taken in 1785, 1786, 1787, 1788, and 1789, differing in small degrees, but concurring in the main. From these it results that they have usually had about nine chebecs, from ten to thirty-six guns, and four galleys, which have been reduced by losses to six chebecs and four galleys. They have a forty-gun frigate on the stocks, and expect two cruisers from the grand seignior. The character of their vessels is, that they are sharp built and swift, but so light as not to stand the broadside of a good frigate. Their guns are of different calibres, unskilfully pointed and worked. The vessels illy manauvred, but crowded with men, one third Turks, the rest Moors, of determined bravery, and resting their sole hopes on boarding. But two of these vessels belong to the government, the rest being private property. If they come out of the harbor together, they separate immediately in quest of
and it is said they were never known to act together in any instance. Nor do they come out at all, when they know there are vessels cruising for them. They perform three cruises a year, between the middle of April and November, when they unrig and lay up for the winter. When not confined within the straits, they rove northwardly to the channel, and westwardly to the westward islands.
They are at peace at present, with France, Spain, England, Venice, the United Netherlands, Sweden, and Denmark ; and at war with Russia, Austria, Portugal, Naples, Sardinia, Genoa, and Malta,
Should the United States propose to vindicate their commerce by arms, they would, perhaps, think it prudent to possess a force equal to the whole of that which may be opposed to them. What that equal force would be, will belong to another department to say.
At the same time it might never be necessary to draw out the whole at once, nor perhaps any proportion of it, but for a small