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I have now, sir, given you a faithful and a detailed account of this extraordinary and unexpected transaction. While I feel conscious that no exertion was wanting on my part, and no means in my power left unattempted to make an accommodation, when the difficulties were first brought forward, and during the whole course of this unexampled proceeding; and that my ultimate decision was made on the ground of necessity, to prevent a greater evil to my country; I trust that the president and our government will approve my conduct. The law passed on the 1st of May, 1810, restricting the consuls in Bar bary to the sum of three thousand dollars annually, to be ema ployed in presents, &c. without the special permission of the president first obtained, prevented my making those attempts in a pecuniary way, for opening a door to accommodation, which I should otherwise have done; but upon a review of the whole of the circumstances attending this business, I have now my doubts whether any sum which the United States might have thought proper to bestow, would have answered the purpose. I thought it iny duty, however, to make some attempts in that way, upon the scale to which I was limited; but it had not the desired effect. The character of the present dey, Hadge Alli
, bashaw, is that of a severe, obstinate, and cruel man. He is said to be in. flexible in his resolutions, and will bear no contradiction or reasoning. He has kept the soldiers in more subjection during his reign than they have been accustomed to for many reigns before, and no one dares approach him, but those whose duty calls them into his presence, or who are sent for by him. He has not granted an audience to any consul for nearly a year past, except to a new English consul who arrived in April last; and would not see the old consul before his departure. The tales told of his personal conduct in the palace, bespeak him a man deprived, at times, of his reason. His conduct with respect to our affairs is almost an'evidence of his insanity ; and I am very much mistaken if it does not hasten his exit from this world, but while he reigns he is most absolute. And I have very little hopes of his refraining from making war upon the United States. There is every reason to apprehend, from what has taken place, as before detailed, that the cruizers had orders to capture American vessels, before their departure from Algiers on the 13th instant. In which case some vessels will undoubtedly fall into their hands before the notice I have given, or may give, can reach the ports where they may be, and prevent their sailing. It therefore behoves the government to prepare for such an event, and to determine in what manner they will meet it. Should our differences with Great Britain be so accommodated as to admit of sending a naval force into the sea, I am sure there
only one course which the government will pursue, and what has now taken place may be a happy and fortunate event for the United States, by relieving them from a disgraceful tribute, and an imperious and piratical depredation on their commerce. If our small naval force can operate freely in this sea, Algiers will be humbled to the dust.
Spain would undoubtedly be ready and willing, as far as she might be able, to co-operate with any nation against Algiers; for the enormous demands made upon the former by the latter not having been complied with, the Algerines have lately taken vessels and property from the Spaniards to the amonnt of more than 100,000 dollars, and have upwards of fifty of the subjects of that nation in slavery. They still permit, or rather compel the consul to remain at Algiers, and have not declared war against Spain, whose ally seems to view these depredations with indifference. The French may be said to be nearly in a state of open hostility with them; and the Algerines know, that in the event of a peace between Great Britain and France, they must submit to the will of the latter power. Sweden and Denmark are in arrears for four or five annuities, and nothing but a knowledge that these powers have no commerce in this they can depredate, prevents their making war upon them. In the mean time, the consuls of these nations pay annually a considerable sum of money for their forbearance, while the account of annuities is accumulating. All the Sicilians have been released, through the interference of the English, from Tunis and Tripoli; and at my departure from Algiers, lord William Bentick was daily at that place, to treat for the Sicilians in slavery there. The Portuguese have redeemed all their subjects in slavery at Algiers, and extended their truce with the regency for one year.
I shall proceed in the Allegany to Gibraltar, where I shall dispose of her cargo, which has been refused by the dey of Algiers, to meet, as far as it will go, the bill before mentioned, and for the remainder shall draw upon the honourable the secretary of state. At the same time, I shall send to Mr. Simpson, our consul at Tangier, the gun barrels intended for the emperor of Morocco, as well as a copy of your letter respecting the change of passports, with a proportion of the tops, and one of the new passports. The same will be done to Tunis and Tripoli, from which place I have heard nothiog since I had last the honour of writing to you. I shall also from thence dispense information of what happened at Algiers, to all ports of
sea, on which 20 guns
this sea, as before mentioned, and shall add to this letter (if an opportunity should offer of forwarding it before my arrival) such occurrences or information as I may meet with there.
On the 13th instant, the whole naval force of Algiers sailed on a cruize to the eastward, supposed to be destined against Tunis, or to make a descent on some part of Sardinia, for the purpose of getting slaves. It consisted of the following vessels: 1 frigate of 50 guns and
44 do. 450 men each, 900
450 1 xebeck,
200 1 schooner, 4 do.
40 1 row galley
50 6 gun boats, sloop rigged, carrying one twenty-four pounder, and one eleven inch mortar each.
The heaviest cannon in their frigates are eighteen pounders, but these do not extend through the whole battery, having some twelve pounders among them ; the other guns are nine and six pounders. The corvettes and brigs carry twelve, nine, and six pounders: none of them have carronades.
The large frigate is about six years old, and the best of the squadron. She is about the size of our 36 gun frigates. Three. of the others are very old ships, hardly sea-worthy, about the size of our 32 gun frigates. That of 38 guns is a new ship, launched at Algiers about two months since, and is about 500 tons burthen. The two corvettes of 24 guns are Greek prizes, converted into cruizers, about 400 tons burthen each. The corvette of 22 guns is an old vessel of about 350 tons. The two brigs are about 250, and the xebeck 200 tons. Four of the frigates, one corvette, and the two brigs are coppered.
The Algerines have not another vessel of war besides those mentioned, excepting three gun boats, of the size of those sent out, which are unfit for service. All their small
open gun boats for the defence of the bay, are either broken up or entirely unfit for service.
The squadron before mentioned is commanded by their famous captain Rais Hammida, who bears the title of admiral. He is a bold, active, enterprising commander, but entirely unacquainted with any regular mode of fighting; he has not the advantage of being a Turk, or even an Algerine by birth, and his advancement, which has been owing entirely to his activity, enterprize, and singular good fortune, has excited the jealousy and hatred of the other commanders, who are far inferior to him in point of talents; but he is much beloved by the sailors (if such they may be called who go out in their cruizers). He is an Arab of the mountains, of one of the tribe of Carbiles; he came to Algiers when a boy, to seek a livelihood, as is the custom of those people, and going out in one of the cruizers became attached to that mode of life, and has risen to his present rank. He is about 40
old. The crews of their cruizers consist principally of the lowest and most miserable order of people in Algiers, known by the name of Biscaries and Carbiles, from the tribes to which they belong. They are either taken from the streets at the moment when a cruizer is about to sail, or if a previous cruize has been fortunate they go on board voluntarily in great numbers, hoping to obtain plunder or prize money. As the last cruize of their corsairs was esteemed fortunate by the capture of a number of Greek vessels loaded with wheat, and each man shared about 50 dollars, the vessels have been crowded with volunteers on the present cruize. Besides these there are a few who may
be called good seamen for Algerines; and about 10 or 12 Turkish soldiers to every 100 men on board the vessel.
They know nothing' of regular combat at sea, and if kept from boarding distance, they could not withstand one half their own force on board another vessel, which should be tolerably well managed in the usual mode of sea-fighting. It is on boarding that they depend entirely to overcome an equal or any force that will contend with them. These attempts they sometimes make with a desperation bordering on madness; but if foiled in that, they have no other resource.
After this account of the Algerine cruizers and their crews, which is faithful and correct, I am sure that our brave officers and seamen would rejoice to meet them with only half their force, if circumstances should -make a recurrence to arms necessary on our part, and our ships could come freely into
Enclosed is the account of the settlement of the cargo of the brig Paul Hamilton, made at the palace on the 22d instant, and although the prices allowed for the cordage and cables are at a great loss to the United States, yet those given for the plank and turpentine, &c. make the settlement upon the whole as good as usual, and had the cargo of the ship Allegany been received at the same rate, it would have paid the balance up to September next, which completes the 17th year of our treaty, according to our computation of time. The account of annuities between
the United States and Algiers, as per treaty stands simply thus :
Dr. The United States to the dey and regency of Algiers. To 17 annuities ending Sept. 5th, 1812, at 21,600 dollars per year,
Cr. By 14, annuities paid as per receipts, at 21,600
dollars per year, By a tiscary given at the last settlement for a ba
lance in favour of the United States, 14,480
old sequins, By the amount of stores brought by the brig Paul
Hamilton, as per settlement July 22d, 1812,
Balance due to the regency of Algiers on the 5th
The regency of Algiers counting the time by the Mahometan computation of 354 days to the year, make 174 years, which is an addition of half a year or 10,800 dollars to the above balance, which makes their balance 26,637 to the 5th of September, 1812, for which the dey demands 27,000 dollars, in round numbers.
Message from the President of the United States transmitting a
Report of the Secretary of State, made in obedience to a resolution of the House of Representatives of the ninth instant, re. questing information touching the conduct of British Officers
towards persons taken in American armed ships. To the House of Representatives of the United States.
I transmit to the house of representatives a report of the secretary of state, complying with their resolution of the ninth instant. December 21st, 1812.
JAMES MADISON. The secretary of state, to whom was referred the resolution of the house of representatives of the 9th instant, requesting information touching the conduct of British officers towards per