Our Collection

At the Institute’s core is the Gilder Lehrman Collection, one of the great archives in American history. More than 70,000 items cover five hundred years of American history, from Columbus’s 1493 letter describing the New World to soldiers’ letters from World War II and Vietnam. Explore primary sources, visit exhibitions in person or online, or bring your class on a field trip.

Bassa, Hamuda (fl. 1803-1807) Translation of letter to Tobias Lear re: delay in correspondence

High-resolution images are available to schools and libraries via subscription to American History, 1493-1943. Check to see if your school or library already has a subscription. Or click here for more information. You may also order a pdf of the image from us here.

Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC02794.091 Author/Creator: Bassa, Hamuda (fl. 1803-1807) Place Written: Tunis Type: Manuscript document Date: 1805/08/11 Pagination: 3 p. + docket 23.9 x 18.9 cm

Summary of Content: The Bashaw explains that his other obligations, and lack of access to a translator resulted in the delayed reply to Lear's letter. Emphasizes that Lear should not doubt "my zeal, & peaceful intentions." Docketed on verso: "Translation of a Letter from the Bey of Tunis to Tobias Lear-- Aug. 11th. 1805"

Full Transcript: The Bashaw Bey of Tunis, the City well guarded the residence of Felicity.-
To Tobias Lear Consul general of the U. States of America attached to the Regency of ...Algiers & actually on board the frigate Constitution anchored in the roads of Goletta. -

Yesterday at sun set was handed to me your letter dated the same Day, the contents of which are new, & not indiferent [sic] motive of surprize [sic] having told your charge of affairs the Day before yesterday when he consigned me your letter of the 18th Inst. that I would send him my answer in the afternoon as he declar'd his intention were to embark without delay, but on reflecting & would not be in time before his departure, I sent him a note leting [sic] him know that in consequence of my being obliged to go to Town to attend at Mass. but if he would defer his departure until Saturday morning he could have brought you my answer, but if not, that I would send it [2] by another Boat, which in fact yesterday was done by my Minister Jussuf Haggia residing at the Gotalla. If then Davis on his arrival had been so good to have explain'd to you, & the Commodore [struck: on his] the motives which prevented me puntuly [sic] answering your letter which it seems you much wished for. You would have not troubled yourself in making another demand & doubting of my zeal, & peaceful intentions, of which I think you cannot have the least doubt. if you have understand [sic], & neglected on my letter of the 9 Inst.
Nor neither can I think how all communication between us is break, by your writing, as yet to me & your wish of coming to an arrangement of differences existing between us, & a wish of finishing them to your interest & mine, & as the Charge of Affairs was not sent away by me, nor by the orders of the President, but only to please the Commodore & if Davis explained to you [3] that I have no person near me that understands your Language, then you would not be surprized [sic] that I have retarded in answering you, but now hurry to comply with pleasure to write to you from the Country where I arrived this morning business. -
Not at present more to say except that of renewing, & conferring my answer of the Day before yesterday. I salute you, & wish you all happiness.

From the Palace of Momaehia 6 Leagues from Goletta the 11 Augt 1805 Sunday morning 10 O'clock.

Hamuda Bassaw
See More


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

Order a Copy Citation Guidelines for Online Resources