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Lift your lamp beside the golden door, Break not the golden rule, avoid well the golden calf, know; not all that glitters is gold, and laissez faire et laissez passer [let do and let pass] but as a shining sentinel, hesitate not to ring the bell, defend the gates, and man the wall

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Jefferson to Jay March 28 1786 Barbary Pirates

Grosvenor Square, March 28, 1786.
Soon after the arrival of Mr. Jefferson in London, we had a conference with the Ambassador of Tripoli at his house.
The amount of all the information we can obtain from him was, that a perpetual peace was in all respects the most advisable, because a temporary treaty would leave room for increasing demands upon every renewal of it, and a stipulation for annual payments would be liable to failures of performance, which would renew the war, repeat the negotiations, and continually augment the claims of his nation; and the difference of expense would by no means be adequate to the inconvenience, since 12,500 guineas to his constituents, with ten per cent. upon that sum for himself, must be paid if the treaty was made for only one year.
That 30,000 guineas for his employers, and £3,000 for himself, was the lowest terms upon which a perpetual peace could be made; and that this must be paid in cash on the delivery of the treaty, signed by his Sovereign; that no kind of merchandizes could be accepted.
That Tunis would treat upon the same terms, but he could not answer for Algiers or Morocco.
We took the liberty to make some enquiries concerning the ground of their pretensions to make war upon nations who had done them no injury, and observed that we considered all mankind as our friends who had done us no wrong, nor had given us any provocation.
The Ambassador answered us that it was founded on the laws of their Prophet; that it was written in their Koran; that all nations who should not have acknowledged their authority were sinners; that it was their right and duty to make war upon them wherever they could be found, and to make slaves of all they could take as prisoners; and that every Mussulman who was slain in battle was sure to go to Paradise.
That it was a law that the first who boarded an enemy's vessel should have one slave more than his share with the rest, which operated as an incentive to the most desperate valor and enterprize; that it was the practice of their corsairs to bear down upon a ship, for each sailor to take a dagger in each hand and another in his mouth, and leap on board, which so terrified their enemies that very few ever stood against them; that he verily believed the devil assisted his countrymen, for they were almost always successful.
We took time to consider, and promised an answer; but we can give him no other than that the demands exceed our expectation and that of Congress so much that we can proceed no further without fresh instructions.
There is but one possible way that we know of to procure the money, if Congress should authorize us to go to the necessary expense; and that is to borrow it in Holland. We are not certain it can be had there, but if Congress should order us to make the best terms we can with Tunis, Tripoli, and Morocco, and to procure this money wherever we can find it, upon terms like those of the last loan in Holland, our best endeavor shall be used to remove this formidable obstacle out of the way of the prosperity of the United States.
Enclosed is a copy of a letter from Paul R. Randall, Esq., at Barcelona. The last from Mr. Barclay was dated Bayonne. It is hoped we shall soon have news from Algiers and Morocco, and we wish it may not be made more disagreeable than this from Tunis and Tripoli.

The diplomatic correspondence of the United States of America Volume 1 [1788] page 605