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Lear, Tobias (1762-1816) to Hamuda Bassa re: threatened war between Tunis and U.S.

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Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC02794.084 Author/Creator: Lear, Tobias (1762-1816) Place Written: Tunis Bay Type: Autograph letter signed Date: 1805/08/08 Pagination: 3 p. + docket 25.1 x 20.3 cm

Summary of Content: Draft copy of GLC 2794.085. Written aboard the "U.S.S. Constitution." For excerpt, see GLC 2794.085. Docketed on verso.

Background Information: Notes: Contains numerous struck passages that are indiscernable. Compare with the final version, GLC 2794.085.

Full Transcript: Tobias Lear, Consul General of the United States of America for the Regency of Algiers &c. &c.

To His Excellency Hamuda Bassa, the most Illustrious and most magnificent Prince, the ...Bey of Tunis, the abode of Happiness.

I had the honor last evening to receive your Excellency's letters of the 5th and 7th of the present month, in answer to mine of the 2d and 5th of the same.

In consequence of the information which I received both before and since my arrival in this Bay, that your Excellency would not receive me or have any communication with me on the affairs of my nation, I have not had it in my power to say or do anything which might have had a tendency to restore harmony and a good understanding between nations. And the repeated threats of your Excellency to make war upon the United States has obliged the Commander of the American Squadron in this Sea, to place himself in a situation to guard against that evil as much as possible. In this state of things if it becomes necessary for him to be assured, in the most unequivocal manner, that these threats of your Excellency will not be carried into effect while the Treaty between our nations remains unbroken on our part, and not until you may have been refused redress for any injuries, in the way pointed out in this Instrument. [2]

I am apprehensive that your Excellency has been impressed with a belief that the Commander came with his squadron to this Bay with a view to provoke or commence hostilities against your regency. This I can assure you was very far from being the case. He had no other view than to see all little matters of difference which then existed, amicably adjusted; and he could not conceive that the appearance of his squadron, which was passing down this Sea, and could be construed into an act of hostility. Your excellency may then judge of his surprise when he found our country threatened with immediate war for an act which could in no [illegible] be considered as hostile; and it at once became his duty to take such measures as would avert him or lessen this evil to his country, and to persist in these measures until he should have such unequivocal evidence of the relinquishment of hostile intentions on the part of your Excellency, as would fully justify to his government and to the world, his withdrawing his forces. This assurance he has requested & now requests our charge' d' affairs to obtain from yr. Excellency in a manner stated to him and until it is accorded in due form, we must consider every avenue closed which would admit of a fair and friendly discussion of any points of difference between our nations; and I cannot possibly have the honor of presenting myself before your Excellency while we are without any security for the continuance of peace from day to day.

The Interest, the Policy, and the Principles of the Governm[en]t of the United States of America lead us to wish to be at peace with all nations, and knowing that the only [3] certain mode of securing that blessing, as far as it is practicable, is to maintain and secure our own natural rights, and repel in a proper manner, any insult or indignity offered to our nation, and inviolably adhere to the letter and spirit of our Treaties, and to our public engagements, we shall always be extremely cautious of giving just cause of complaint against us, or when an injury may have been done, to grant immediate redress for the same, when the application is made in the form prescribed in Treaties, or in such a way as is usual between nations in state of amity.

I am fully persuaded that Your Excellency, desirous of preserving the peace now existing between our nations, will not hesitate to give the evidence, request of your pacific intentions, without which it is impossible to enter into a discussion on any points to restore and strengthen that friendship which we so earnestly wish may continue to bind us to each other.

I pray your Excellency to be assured of my high respect and consideration. Tobias Lear

On board the U.S. Frigate Constitution
Tunis Bay Augt. 8th: 1805

To His Excy The Bey of Tunis
8 Augt. 1805

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People: Lear, Tobias, 1762-1816

Historical Era: The New Nation, 1783-1815

Subjects: USS Constitution (Old Ironsides)DiplomacyGovernment and CivicsGlobal History and US Foreign PolicyGlobal History and US Foreign PolicyBarbary CoastBarbary PiratesBarbary WarsAfricaPiratesPresidentMilitary HistoryNavy

Sub Era: The Age of Jefferson & Madison

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