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Bassa, Hamuda (fl. 1803-1807) to Tobias Lear re: Bey's attempt to avoid hostilities with the U.S.

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Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC02794.086 Author/Creator: Bassa, Hamuda (fl. 1803-1807) Place Written: Tunis Type: Manuscript document Date: 1805/08/09 Pagination: 4 p. 19 x 8 cm

Summary of Content: Manuscript copy of letter in a clerk's hand with copy signature. Bey writes: "you [Lear] are the sole person at this moment invested with the character & power of the President of your Government to treat with me on affairs relative to your Nation." Bey is defending his actions: "[r]ead that what I wrote to you . . . then tell me if you have found my pure intentions equivocal [. . . .] So far Am I from hostile ideas . . . that I now declare . . . that by me there shall not be made, nor any of my subjects permitted to make, the least alteration in the good friendship existing between us."

Full Transcript: The Bashaw Bey of Tunis, the City well guarded the residence of Felicity:
To Mr. Tobias Lear Consul general of the U. States of America attached to the Regency of ...Algiers actually on board the frigate Constitution anchor'd in the roads of Goletta.
Reflecting on the different conferrences [sic] which I have had for some time with the charge of Affairs of your Nation, & in particular within those few days, I think there is a misunderstanding between us; Reflecting likewise on the numerous writings which passed between you, your Commodore, & me, that you are the sole person at this moment invested with the character & power of the President of your Government to treat with me on affairs relative to your Nation, I don't hesitate a moment to reply anew to your complaint letter of yesterday receiv'd this morning, leaving at the same time to your penetration and to that of the Commodore's, who I distinctly revarence [sic], to reflect & to decide on those applications from which spring so many contrasts.
Desisting to recapitulate many letter wrote by me to the President of the U States, & to many Commanders of the same nation, that have appear'd in those Seas, as long as the happy peace reighns [sic] between us, I beg you only attentively to read & weigh the letter wrote by me the 20th. of May last to Commodore Barron & that wrote the 17th of July to the President himself, including him the copy of my above mentioned letter, which contrary to my expectations was wrote to me from Commodore Rogers from Syracuse dated the 1st of July, which I consisn'd open to the charge of affairs Davis, when he told me he would go to in person to Syracuse or to Malta, -
Read that what I have wrote to you, & what I have wrote to the Commodore himself the 5th & 7th of this month; then tell me if you have found my pure intentions equivocal, or have had any doubt of the continuance of my fidelity, or to my exact observance of the treaty [2] existing between us, which I do not conceive to have violated in the least degree, tell me if from the contents of my letters, you could have relonated [sic] those threats which were said I made use of saying I would declare War against the U States when to the contrary those threats were made by yourselves, because I insisted on a reistablishment [sic] of a loss receiv'd from you; from this just observation & by my several letters, confirm, that you misconstrue my true Intentions, & since the ratification of peace between me & your Government, there never was on my part the least hesitation to comply with it; this treaty as you well should know was revised, corrected & increas'd by the two charge of Affairs William Eaton & James Leander Cathcart which were positively appointed by the President John Adams, & then by the same confirm'd & solemnly ratified on the 10th of January 1800. -
For my part, & as it should be, it was never pretended or demanded in the least a renewal of the same, and to this hour I cannot comprehend, what your demands & pretensions are, as the solemn aliance [sic] between us was not stipulated neither by surpize [sic] or violence, but with reciprocal agreements & accord. After all these observations & assurances directly from me to you, then days past of my good intentions & how far I was & am of acting in a hostile manner against your nation, I cannot help expressing my surprize [sic] of your not as yet excepting my Invitation, which I repeatedly have made you, on account of your own proposition & that of your having communicated to me the power & credentials assign it to you by the President that instead of which you have limited yourself only to writing. -
I should not wish that the Italian, not being familiar to you, & on that account have not well understood my sentiment, or that they were misinterpreted to you, if by misfortune this has been the case, inform me without delay, in which case, I should rather have recourse to a person who could translate in your language all my writings; -
Remaining in hope to have the pleasure of seeing you, as you yourself spontaneously offered; tell Commodore Rodgers, when I understood from the charge of Affairs Davis, & by his own letter from Syracuse, that my demand [3] made of two Kebecks [sic] & that of two prizes made before Tripoli, he notified to me that that he had taken measures to convince my Subjects that they should not infringe on your rights, at present I do not know that I can accuse myself of having manifested the least hostile intention, leaving all to the direction of your President my friend, with who exists the treaty understood between him & me, -
In this emergency I look on the Commodore as responsible for whatever hostile operations which will, or he thinks himself authorized to undertake against my Regency, In fact after having understood his Intention, I said to the charge of affairs, as the Commodore has absolutely declar'd not to submit to my request, & his intentions to come here with all the force under his command, that I would look on this as a manifest declaration of war, to which I would not nor could not submit to an aspect of a force; the reason of which I have submitted to the examination of the President of the United States, without compremanting [sic] my dignity. -
I testify with this, & with all that I am able to tell you, if you will come to me, which was yourself desired, so far Am I from hostile ideas that you have conceiv'd or made to conceive of me, that I now declare & I charge you to declare to the Commodore, that by me there shall not be made, nor any of my subjects permitted to make the least alteration in the good friendship existing between us, if on your part you do not begin hostilities, or infringe on the treaty, & that all remain so, in expectation of an answer from your Government, to which I go to transmit an information of all what has happened, that I may be satisfied of any injury that I might receive, or at least that such satisfaction may be refused me. So I have declared myself this morning to George Davis charge of affairs who has taken leave of my & would not remain on any Account.
To give you a greater proof how far I am of using the least violence or molesting any person soever subject of a friendly power, certain if he was [4] displeas'd or had taken umbrage at what I formerly said of not treating with you as being Consul attach'd to another Regency, you should now render me justice of having now acknowledge'd you, having been inform'd of the wishes & power conferr'd on you by the President, not alone with me, but with all the Mediterranean; but if your powers are at an Epoch of some distance; in this urgency any other of your countrymen can present themselves to me, & why then rest in misunderstanding when we have the means to understand & conciliate with each other? Receive then this my declaration as a pledge of service and friendly Intention, that I in my quality as Sovereign know not how to break, without obliging me to the humiliating pass requested by the same Davis, to declare myself before the testimony of two Consuls, -
I again repeat if you do not well understand my writing in this language, let me know without delay, & I will have it translated through a Medium more familiar to you, that is if you do note come with a person of your own choice, & confidence.
In the mean time waiting for your answer, I wish you the completest [sic] happiness.
/Signed/ Hamud Bassaw Bey,
The Court of Tunis 9th. Augt. 1805

More again to convince you of my peaceable intentions & good friendship and also the esteem I have for the President, whatever may be your Intentions or that of the Commodores, no more to treat with me untill [sic] new orders are receiv'd after what has happened, I propose to you to send a person of distinction of my Regency to your Government, to explain & accommodate all, which will accelerate the final depending between us, If the Commodore will receive him on board his or any other vessel of the Squadron, on his advisal [sic] he shall be immediately send, but if not I will dispatch him in a vessel charter'd by myself for that purpose.
Again I am
/Signed/ Hamuda Bassaw Bey
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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 WarsAfricaPiratesPresident

Sub Era: The Age of Jefferson & Madison

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