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This webpage reproduces a chapter of
The Diplomatic Relations
of the United States
with the Barbary Powers

by
Ray W. Irwin

published by
The University of North Carolina Press
Chapel Hill, 1931

The text is in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
If you find a mistake though,
please let me know!

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This site is not affiliated with the US Naval Academy.

 p205  Selected Bibliography

A. Official Manuscripts

The Official manuscript materials relating to Barbary are rather widely scattered throughout many volumes of correspondence deposited in the Archives of the Department of State. The main categories are the following: 1, Despatches from U. S. Consuls; 2, Despatches to U. S. Consuls, Instructions; 3, Despatches from U. S. Ministers; 4, Despatches to U. S. Ministers, Instructions; 5, Archives of the U. S. Consulates in Barbary; 6, Domestic Letters.

1. Of these six groups of manuscripts, the first is of chief importance. From Algiers there are nine volumes of letters and reports, extending over the period 1793‑1818; from the United States, five volumes, 1797‑1830; from Tripoli, four volumes, 1796‑1831; and from Tangier, three volumes, 1811‑1818. Almost equally useful for some phases of the Barbary relations are the consular despatches from Gibraltar, three volumes of which cover the period 1790‑1829.

2. The second group consists principally of one volume, 1800‑1817. It includes numerous letters of instruction to James L. Cathcart, William Eaton, Richard O'Brien, Tobias Lear, George Davis, James Simpson, and other consuls in the Mediterranean area.

3 and 4. The third and fourth groups are quite voluminous, and no attempt will be made here to catalogue them. Suffice it to state that the United States ministers in England, Portugal, France and Spain, sometimes had a hand in Barbary affairs. They sought aid from European governments, presented complaints to the latter, purchased regalia for the Barbary governments, etc. David Humphreys, while serving as United States Minister to Portugal, also supervised negotiations with the North African governments. The Despatches from Portugal, Volumes III, IV, and V, 1790‑1800, abound in significant material.

Despatches cited "Tangier," "Algiers," "Tunis," "Tripoli," "Gibraltar," etc., are consular; those cited "England," "Portugal," "France," etc., are diplomatic. It may properly be  p206 remarked, however, that the functions of the consuls were often hardly more consular than diplomatic.

5. Four volumes in the fifth group cover the period 1793‑1815. They consist in large measure of despatches to and from consuls and other agents, accounts, bills of lading, testimonials of conduct, etc., relative to Barbary. Many of the documents are in language other than English.

6. Of the many volumes of Domestic Letters in the Archives of the Department of State, Volumes I‑XVI cover the period of the foregoing study. Vol. I begins with December, 1784, and Vol. XVI ends with February, 1817. The Domestic Letters include many communications to individuals other than ministers and consuls.

B. Unofficial Manuscripts

Correspondence of James Leander Cathcart

The collection includes letters to and from Timothy Pickering; James Madison; Commodore Richard V. Morris; Commodore Edward Preble; Richard O'Brien, U. S. Consul at Algiers; Robert Montgomery, U. S. Consul at Alicante; Thomas Appleton, U. S. Consul at Leghorn; William Eaton, U. S. Consul at Tunis; Tobias Lear, U. S. Consul-General to the Barbary States; Matthias Skjöldebrand, Swedish Consul at Algiers; Pierre E. Skjöldebrand; N. C. Nissen, Danish Consul at Tripoli; Sir John Acton; John Gavino, U. S. Consul at Gibraltar, etc. Papers on negotiations between the United States and Algiers; lists of American captives; mortality; expense accounts, etc. About four hundred pieces. Loc.: Publ. Library, New York City, 42nd Street.

Thomas Jefferson Papers

Correspondence with John Adams, John Jay, Congress, Madison, William Carmichael, John Lamb, Thomas Barclay, David Humphreys, Oliver Wolcott, William Short, and many others regarding Barbary affairs. Greater portion written while Jefferson was in Europe. Loc.: Library of Congress.

James Madison Papers

There are one hundred and five volumes in this collection. The letters from Madison are contained in twelve volumes;  p207 those to Madison, in sixty-three. The collection contains many letters relative to Barbary, especially for the years 1801‑1806. Loc.: Library of Congress.

James Monroe Papers

Twenty‑two volumes; six consist of letters written by Monroe; sixteen of letters written to him. Most of the communications relative to Barbary in this collection fall in the period 1812‑1816.

Timothy Pickering Papers

Pickering, Secretary of State during the greater portion of John Adams's administration, wrote many letters relating to Barbary affairs. This collection contains messages to Cathcart, Eaton, O'Brien, Simpson, Humphreys, and others. A number of reports of expenditures are included; also statements concerning the sending of tribute or presents to the Barbary rulers. Loc.: Library of the Mass. Hist. Soc., Boston.

Edward Preble Papers

Twelve of the twenty-five volumes consist exclusively of correspondence. Two volumes, 1803‑1804, contain letters written by Preble; another contains the rough drafts of his letters during the years 1799‑1807. In the other volumes are letters to Preble from Commodore Barron, Eaton, Cathcart, William Bainbridge, Davis, Lear, Agents of the Pasha of Tripoli, and others. Loc.: Library of Congress.

C. Official Printed Collections

The Revolutionary Diplomatic Correspondence of the United States. Edited by Francis Wharton, 6 vols. Washington, 1889.

A valuable aid in a study of the period which it covers. Numerous letters from Adams, Franklin, Jefferson, Jay, etc., concerning American Mediterranean affairs.

The Diplomatic Correspondence of the United States, Sept. 10, 1783 to Mar. 4, 1789. 7 vols. Washington, 1833‑1834.

Contains letters and reports from Jefferson, Adams, Jay, Barclay, Lamb, Carmichael, and others. Very useful.

 p208  Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774‑1789. 25 vols. Washington, 1904‑1922. Vols. I‑XV edited by Worthington Chauncey Ford; Vols. XVI‑XXV, by Gaillard Hunt.

Of minor value with respect to American Mediterranean affairs if compared with the preceding collection.

Secret Journals of the Acts and Proceedings of Congress, from the first Meeting thereof to the Dissolution of the Confederation by the Adoption of the Constitution of the United States. 4 vols. Boston, 1820‑1821.

Useful for resolutions of Congress.

A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Presidents, 1787‑1897. Published by Authority of Congress, by James D. Richardson. 10 vols. Washington, 1896‑1899.

Vol. I covers period dealt with in foregoing study.

American State Papers, Class I: Foreign Relations, 1789‑1828. Edited by Lowrie and Clarke. 6 vols. Washington, 1833‑1859.

Volumes in Class I only are included in above reference. Contain many letters. A useful source.

State Papers and Publick Documents of the United States. Edited by T. B. Wait. 10 vols. Boston, 1819.

A good supplement to the American State Papers.

Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States. Published by Gales and Seaton. 42 vols. Washington, 1834‑1856. Binders' title, Annals of Congress.

Debates recorded from 1789 to 1824.

Abridgment of the Debates in Congress from 1789 to 1856. Edited by Thomas Hart Benton. 16 vols. New York, 1857‑1867.

Less extensive in content than the immediately preceding collection.

U. S. Statutes at Large. Edited by Richard Peters. Vol. I, 1789‑1799; Vol. II, 1800‑1813. Boston, 1850 and 1856.

Contain statutes pertaining to U. S. Mediterranean affairs.

Treaties, Conventions, International Acts, Protocols, and Agreements between the United States of America and Other Powers, 1776‑1909. Compiled by William M. Malloy, 2 vols. Washington, 1910.a

 p209  D. Unofficial Printed Collections

Adams, John, The Works of John Adams. Edited by Charles Francis Adams. Boston, 1853.

Contains numerous letters and references to Barbary States but is less useful than the letters of Adams to Jefferson included in the Jefferson Papers, L. of C.

Jay, John, The Correspondence and Public Papers of John Jay. Edited by Henry P. Johnston. 4 vols. N. Y. and London, 1890‑1893.

Numerous letters, most of which appear in printed collections of official diplomatic correspondence.

Jefferson, Thomas, Writings of Thomas Jefferson. Monticello edition. Edited by A. A. Lipscomb, Editor of publications of the Jefferson Memorial Association, Washington, D. C. 20 vols. Washington, D. C., 1905.

Vol. I contains Jefferson's Autobiography. Many letters relating to Mediterranean affairs.

Marsden, Reginald Godfrey, Documents Relating to Law and Custom of the Sea. 2 vols. London, 1915‑1916.

Vol. II, 1649‑1767,º contains some copies of Mediterranean passports.

Macpherson, David, Annals of Commerce, Manufacture, Fisheries, and Navigation. 4 vols. London, 1805.

Includes a number of statistical tables relative to American Mediterranean commerce prior to the Revolutionary War.

A Short History of Algiers with a Concise View of the Origin of the Rupture between Algiers and the United States, To Which Is Added a Copious Appendix Containing Letters from Sundry American Captives. Third edition, N. Y., 1805.

Authorship of portion exclusive of appendix not indicated. Latter contents some significant letters.

E. Memoirs

Cathcart, James Leander, The Captives. La Porte, Ind. (1897?).

 p210  An account of Cathcart's experiences while a prisoner in Algiers, from 1785 to 1796. Compiled by Cathcart's daughter, Mrs. J. B. Newkirk.

Cathcart, James Leander, Tripoli. First War with the United States. Compiled by Mrs. J. B. Newkirk, La Porte, Ind., 1901.

An account of Cathcart's experiences while consul to Tripoli. Numerous letters not to be found elsewhere in print.

Cowdery, Jonathan, American Captives in Tripoli, or Dr. Cowdery's Journal. Boston, 1806.

Cowdery was surgeon's mate on board the "Philadelphia." His experiences are also related in a number of newspapers of the period.

Foss, John, A Journal of the Captivity and Sufferings of John Foss. Newburyport, 1798.

Foss was a seaman who was captured by the Algerines in 1793. Has given some vivid descriptions of treatment accorded Americans in Algiers.

Jefferson, Thomas, Autobiography. Vol. I of Monticello Edition of the Writings of Thomas Jefferson. Edited by A. A. Lipscomb. Washington, 1905.

Useful for survey of Jefferson's plan to form a league of maritime states to stop piracy in the Mediterranean.

Maclay, William, The Journal of William Maclay, United States Senator from Pennsylvania, 1789‑1791. Introduction by Charles A. Beard. N. Y., 1927.

Interesting comment on the Mediterranean policy of the United States. Maclay was opposed to the creation of a navy.

Martin, Maria, History of the Captivity and Sufferings of Mrs. M. Martin, Who Was Six Years a Captive in Algiers. Boston, 1807.

Mrs. Martin was an Englishwoman. A quaint account which throws some light on certain practices in Barbary.

Morris, Richard V., A Defence of the Conduct of Commodore Morris During His Command in the Mediterranean. N. Y., 1804.

Controversial, but contains many significant letters from and to Commodore Morris.

 p211  Ray, William, Horrors of Slavery; or, the American Tars in Tripoli. Troy, 1808.

An account written by a marine who was imprisoned when the "Philadelphia" was captured.

Letters from Barbary, France, Spain, Portugal, &c. By an English Officer. London, 1788.

Useful first-hand information concerning Morocco.

F. Biographies

Humphreys, Frank Landon, The Life and Times of David Humphreys. 2 vols. N. Y., 1917.

Useful in that it contains many letters not elsewhere in print.

King, Charles R., The Life and Correspondence of Rufus King. 6 vols. N. Y., 1894‑1900.

Numerous letters to and from King relative to Barbary are herein printed. While serving as United States Minister to England King was given certain assignments respecting Tunis and Tripoli.

Prentiss, Charles, Life of the Late General William Eaton. Brookfield, 1813.

Consists mainly of Eaton's letters.

Sherburne, John Henry, Life and Character of the Chevalier John Paul Jones, from Original Documents. London, 1825.

Of little value as regards the part which Jones played in connection with Barbary.

Todd, C. B. Life and Letters of Joel Barlow. N. Y. and London, 1886.

A considerable number of Barlow's letters, written in Algiers, are reproduced in this volume. Some of them do not appear in the collection of Barlow's official despatches sent to the Department of State.

G. Newspapers

The American Citizen. N. Y.

The Aurora and General Advertiser. Phila.

The Boston Gazette. Boston.

 p212  The Boston Repertory. Boston.

The National Intelligencer. Washington.

The Richmond Enquirer. Richmond.

The Salem Register. Salem.

The United States Gazette. Phila.

These newspapers, which have been selected somewhat at random, contain a considerable amount of information in the form of correspondence, announcements, and comments regarding the administration's Barbary policy. Numerous letters written by Eaton, Barron, Rodgers, Cowdery, Peck, and others.

H. Special Monographs

Allen, Gardner, W., Our Navy and the Barbary Corsairs. Cambridge, 1905.

A very authoritative work. Greater portion deals with naval operations during the War with Tripoli.

Dupuy, Emile, Études d'histoire d'Amérique, Américains & Barbaresques. (1776‑1824). Paris, 1910.

Primarily a compilation of official correspondence. No documentation.

Lane-Poole, Stanley, The Story of the Barbary Corsairs. N. Y., 1902.

A charmingly-written narrative dealing with the maritime history of Northern Africa during the Middle Ages and modern period. Little material pertaining directly to American diplomatic relations with Barbary.

Paullin, Charles O., Diplomatic Negotiations of American Naval Officers, 1778‑1883. Baltimore, 1912.

A series of lectures delivered at Johns Hopkins University in 1911. Chapters II‑IV deal with the part which American Naval Officers played in negotiations with Barbary during the years 1783‑1816.

I. Other Contemporary and Later Materials

Blyth, Stephen C., A History of the war Between the United States and Tripoli. Salem, 1806.

Contains many inaccuracies.

 p213  Broadley, A. M., The Last Punic War. Tunis, Past and Present. 2 vols. Edinburgh, 1882.

General survey of Tunisian History.

Cleveland, Stephen, History of the War between the United States and Tripoli, and Other Barbary Powers, to Which is Prefixed a Geographical, Religious, and Political History of the Barbary States in General. Salem, 1806.

Primarily useful for background of American relations with Barbary.

Cox, Samuel Grayson, The Mission of William Carmichael to Spain (Johns Hopkins University Studies in Historical and Political Science, Vol. XLVI). Baltimore, 1928.

A doctoral dissertation. Sheds light upon the first missions of American agents to Morocco and Algiers.

Goldsborough, Charles Washington, The United States' Naval Chronicle. Washington, 1924.

Contains letters from many officials connected with Mediterranean affairs. A reliable work.

Greenhow, Robert, History and Present Condition of Tripoli. Richmond, 1835.

Is somewhat more comprehensive than the title suggests. Surveys relations of Barbary with the United States, placing chief emphasis upon those with Tripoli. Based on original documents in the Department of State.

Jackson, G. A., Algiers: Being a Complete Picture of the Barbary States, Their Government, Laws, Religion, and Natural Productions. London, 1817.

Of some value with respect to items listed in title.

Johnson, Emory Richard (and others), A History of the Domestic and Foreign Commerce of the United States. 2 vols. Washington, 1915.

Maclay, Edgar Stanton, A History of the United States Navy from 1775 to 1894. N. Y., 1894.

Playfair, Sir Robert Lambert, The Scourge of Christendom; Annals of British Relations with Algiers prior to the French Conquest. London, 1884.

Russell, Rev. Michael, The History and Present Condition of the Barbary States: Comprehending a View of Their Civil Institutions, Antiquities, Arts, Religion, Literature,  p214 Commerce, Agriculture, and Natural Productions. 2nd ed., Edinburgh, 1855.

Shaler, William, Sketches of Algiers, Political, Historical, and Civil. Boston, 1826.

Shaler was Consul-General for the Barbary States. Considerable portion pertains to American relations with Algiers.

Sheffield, B. H. (First Earl of), Observations on the Commerce of the American State. 2nd ed., London, 1783.

Wriston, Henry Merritt, Executive Agents in American Foreign Relations. Baltimore, 1929.

Includes interesting material regarding the appointment of various Barbary States agents: Jones, Barclay, Humphreys, Barlow, etc.


Thayer's Note:

a I can only find Vol. I online, at Archive.Org.


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