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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 #: GLC02794.085 Author/Creator: Lear, Tobias (1762-1816) Place Written: Tunis Bay Type: Manuscript document signed Date: 1805/08/08 Pagination: 3 p. + docket 24.7 x 19.7 cm

Summary of Content: Final draft of GLC 2794.084 in a clerk's hand, with Lear's signature. Written aboard the "U.S.S. Constitution." Lear writes: "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 himslef in a situation to guard against that evil [. . . . ] The Interest, Policy, and the Principles of the Government of the united States of America lead us to wish to be at peace with all nations." He concludes by asking for evidence of the Bashaw's "pacific intentions." Docketed on verso.

Full Transcript: Tobias Lear: Consul General of the United States of America for the Regency of Algiers &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 2nd 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 any thing which might have had a tendency to restore harmony and a good understanding between our 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 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 remain unbroken, on our part, and not untill you may have been refused redress for any injuries, in the way pointed out in that Instrument.
I am apprehensive that your Excellency has been impressed with a belief that the Commodore 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. We had no other view than to see all little matters of difference which then existed amicably adjusted; [2] and he could not conceive that the appearance of his Squadron, which was passing down this sea, could be construed into an act of hostility. Your Excellency may then judge of his Surprize [sic] when he found our Country threatened with immediate war for an act which could in no sense be considered as hostile and it at once became his duty to take such measures as would avert from, or lessen the evil to his Country, and to persist in those measures untill 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 force.- This assurances he has requested and still request our Charge d'affairs to obtain from yr. Excellency in a manner stated to him and untill it is accorded in due form we must consider every avenue closed which would admit of a fair & 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 principle of the Government of the United States of America lead us to wish to be at peace with all nations and knowing that the only certain mode of securing that blessing, as far as it is practicable, is to maintain and secure our own national rights, and repay in a proper manner, any insult or indignity offered to our nation, while we, at the same time, respect the rights of other nations, and invariably adhere to the Letter and Spirit of our Treaties, and to all 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 Treaty's or in such a way as is usual between nations in a state of amity.- [3]
I am fully persuaded that your Excellency, desirous of preserving the peace now existing between our Nations, will not hesitate to give the evidence required of your pacific intentions, without which it is impossible to enter into a discussion on any point 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, Aug. 8. 1805.-

[address leaf]:
The Bey of Tunis
Augt. 8. 1805

See More

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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