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Pickering, Timothy (1745-1829) to Gorham Parsons

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Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC00143 Author/Creator: Pickering, Timothy (1745-1829) Place Written: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Type: Letter signed Date: 15 June 1798 Pagination: 5 p. : address : docket : free frank ; 25 x 19.7 cm.

Summary of Content: Pickering, Secretary of State, writes to Parsons, a Boston merchant who requested that the United States restore his ship, the Eliza, with her cargo of brandy. Cites the details of the Eliza's case, stating that the vessel was sailing for Gibraltar in 1795 and "was captured by a corsair of Tunis and carried into that place." Refers to a truce between the Dey of Algiers (Baba Hussein) the Bey of Tunis, (Hammuda ibn Ali) and United States Consul to Tunis and Tripoli, Joseph Donaldson, Jr. States that to redeem the vessel, Joel Barlow, United States consul to Algiers, paid 11,885 Spanish dollars. Barlow had declared that "The said shooner and brandy and such provisions, as may be on board, are therefore the property of the United States," and these orders were recognized by Captain Greaves and Mr. Rand, aboard the Eliza. As United States property, the Eliza had thus assumed freight bound for Algiers under the care of a Tunisian merchant named Molina. Molina later reported to Barlow that Captain Greaves altered the course of the vessel and had "flogged him every day ... saying he would take vengeance on him for what the Americans had suffered in Barbary." Pickering declares that the vessel and brandy will not be restored to Parsons, stating "It is apparent the United States will at all events be losers by the vessel."

Full Transcript: Department of State, June 15: 1798
Mr Otis has shown me your memorial to congress, praying restoration of the Brigantine Eliza, formerly belonging to you, and of the brandy forming the ...cargo, with which she arrived at Boston, from Tunis, where she had been carried by a corsair of that Regency and purchased by Mr Barlow on behalf and for the use of the [struck: United St]ates. At the request of Mr Otis, I have caused an examination of the [struck: of the] documents relative to her case to be made, the result of which, so far as respects the equity of your claim, I shall now state, in the hope that from a view of the same, you will acquiesce in the propriety of the opinion I have formed, that it would be inexpedient for Congress to comply with the prayer of your memorial.
In October 1795 the Eliza sailed from Boston bound to Gibraltar and to the South of France to purchase a cargo of brandy. Mr Rand; one of the owners, was on board in the
character of supercargo. From Gibraltar, she proceeded for Cette, a French port in the Mediterranean, but on her passage was driven by a gale of wind into Adge, a neighboring port to Cette. Here Mr Rand purchased 16 pipes of brandy, and proceeded for Malaga, but on the passage was captured by a corsair of Tunis and carried into that place. The capture was made on the [2]14th June 1796.
The Day of Algiers, in the name of the Bey of Tunis, had agreed with Mr Donaldson on a truce of 18 months: And the Bey's Agent Hage Alli, residing at Algiers, had received a
present to engage his good offices, yet he never notified the truce to the Bey; but which on the capture of the Eliza was disavowed by him. The capture was made previous to the
[struck: exploration] expiration of the term of this truce.
By the intervention of a French Merchant at Tunis Mr Barlow effected the redemption of the vessel, Captain, crew and Supercargo, at the following rates.
Value of the Schooner and brandy… 1600
redemption of factors………. 1610
do. of the captain…………. 460
do. of Mr Rand……… 1000
4670 Venetian Sequins
The whole expenditure on account of this capture amounted to 11,885 Spanish dollars and was paid by Mr Barlow.
In the instructions of Mr Barlow to Capt. Greaves, dated 2nd August 1796, ther are the following passages.
"To facilitate the negotiations with the Regency of Tunis and to favour your return to America, I have thought proper to include in the redemption the said Schooner and the finall part of the cargo now on board, which I understand consists of only 19 pipes of brandy. [3] The said Schooner and brandy, and such provisions, as may be on board, are therefore the property of the United States." "After delivering your papers to the collector, you will consider the said Schooner as being at his disposition for the benefit of the United States."
These instructions were signed by Mr. Rand, the Capt. And all the crew, as expressive of their respective approbation of the conditions therein prescribed.
In addition to these circumstances indicating the purchase of vessel and cargo to have been made on behalf and for the use of the U.S. a certificate was obtained from the Bey of their condemnation, and also a bill of sale to the United States. These papers must be now at Boston, if they have not been destroyed by Capt. Greaves.
That a capture by the barbary powers changes the property is proved by Bynk Dios Jur. Pub. Lib. 1. c. 18.
With a title thus clear to the Eliza, there are facts connected with her case which render it inexpedient for the United States to surrender their right to the former owners.
Mr Barlow having changed her destination from that mentioned in his instructions of the 2nd August, she was ordered from Tunis for Algiers and took on board a freight for the latter place, consigned to several merchants there. This freight was in [4] trusted to the care one Molina, one of the principal Merchants of Tunis, who was on board in the capacity of a passenger; he was a man of a good family and had connections in Algiers. Instead of going to Algiers as he was ordered Capt. Greaves meeting with bad weather put into Palermo in Sicily, where pretending he had discretionary orders he altered his vessel into a Brigantine, and took in a freight of Sulphur for England, with she proceeded on her voyage, touching a Gibraltar. Two or three hours after sailing from that latter place, having sprung a leak she put into Cadiz - where the cargo was condemned, as being enemy's property.
On the 12th April 1797 Molina arrived at Algiers and declared to Mr Barlow "that Capt Greaves had treated him with the most shocking cruelty and robbed him of all his property as well what belonged to himself as that which was confided to his care", that on their arrival at Palermo, Capt Greaces confined him in chains on board the Schooner 30 days and flogged him every day, saying he would take vengeance on him for what the Americans had suffered in Barbary; that at the end of the 30 days Capt Greaves tied a robe round his body and plunged him several times into the sea, and then set him on shore with nothing but the cloathes upon his back, having taken away and sold [5] his other effects during his confinement". After five months from his leaving Tunis, he arrived at Algiers, having spent a great deal of money, lost his property, and suffered great pain and indignities.
Mr. Barlow having remarked that the United States will be compelled to make satisfaction for these Outrages, observes, that "the pecuniary damages, that the United States will suffer from this affair can be certified to the Executive when they are paid, but the damages in point of honor and character will not be easy to calculate".
Altho' it is not pretended that Mr. Rand participated in these atrocious acts of the Captain, yet as, in addition to the expense of the original redemption, and the repairs and supplies at Tunis, Gilbraltar and Cadiz, for which the United States are [inserted: re]sponsible, they will be compelled to indemnify Molina and his connections for the loss of their property, confided to Capt Greaves; from no principle either of justice or equity can [inserted: it] be expected, that the Brigantine and brandy should be restored. It is apparent the United States will at all events be losers by the vessel.
I am, sir, very respectfully
Mr Gorham Parsons your obt servant
merchant Timothy Pickering

[free frank]
F. Pickering

Mr. Gorham Parsons

Letter from Pickering
Phila June 1798
See More

People: Parsons, Gorham, fl. 1798
Pickering, Timothy, 1745-1829
Ali, Hammuda ibn, 1759 -1814
Barlow, Joel, 1754-1812
Donaldson, Joseph, -1830
Greaves (captain), fl. 1798
Hussein, Baba, fl. 1791-1799
Molina, fl. 1798
Rand, Mr., fl. 1798

Historical Era: The New Nation, 1783-1815

Subjects: AlcoholGlobal History and US Foreign PolicyGlobal History and US Foreign PolicyPiratesCommerceMerchants and TradeMaritimeTruce

Sub Era: The Early Republic

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