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tory by France, gave serious alarm to the Spanish court. In the summer of 1794 the commissioners of his catholic majesty, informally made certain propositions to the American executive; in consequence of which, the president determined to send an envoy extraordinary, to conclude the negociations at Madrid. Mr. Tuomas Pinckney, then minister at London, was selected for this purpose. Mr. Pinckney arrived at Madrid about the last of June, 1795, and the negociation was renewed between him and the duke de la Alcudia. In consequence of the success of the French arms, Spain at this time was obliged to make peace with France; and this circumstance was 'favorable to the American mission. In their first conference, the duke intimated to Mr. Pinckney, that their accommodation with France was connected with the American negociation, and he desired both might proceed together; he afterwards expressed a wish to establish a triple alliance between France, Spain and America. This idea was thrown out, no doubt, at the suggestion of the French government, who had promised to assist the Americans in their disputes with Spain; and probably with a view of inducing them, by important concessions on the part of the latter, to join in the war, or at least to reject the British treaty.
The Spanish minister also requested, that in any treaty to be made, the United States should guaranty the possessions of Spain in America. With this request, the American minister was not authorized to comply.
After many conferences as to details, a treaty was at last concluded between the two governments, on the 27th of October, 1795. It was confined principally to the two great subjects in dispute, and was styled a treaty of friendship, limits and navigation. By this, the line between the United States and East and West Florida, was the same as that settled by the treaty of peace with Great Britain, and the troops and garrisons of either party were to be withdrawn, within six months after the ratification of the treaty. The line was to be ascertained by a commissioner and surveyor, to be appointed by each of the contracting parties, and
who, for that purpose were to meet at Natchez, within six months from the time of ratification.
The western boundary of the United States, which separated them from the colony of Louisiana, was fixed in the middle of the channel of the river Mississippi, to the thirty-first degree of north latitude; and it was also agreed, that the navigation of that river from its source to the ocean, should be free only to the subjects and citizens of the two countries. To enable the citizens of the United States, to enjoy the benefits of this navigation below the thirty-first degree of latitude, liberty was granted them for the term of three years, to deposit their merchandize and effects, in the port of New Orleans, and to export the same without paying any other duty than a fair price for storage; and at the end of three years, the king was, at his option, either to continue this permission, or to assign an equivalent establishment on some other part of the banks of the Mississippi. It was stipulated among other things, that both parties should use all the means in their power, to maintain peace and harmony among the Indian nations on their borders; and both parties bound themselves to restrain even by force, the Indians within their limits, from acts of hostilities against the other-and it was also agreed, that neither party would thereafter make any treaties with those who did not live within their respective limits. Provision was also made, that free ships should make free goods, and that no citizen or subject of either party, should take a commission or letters of marque for arming any vessel, to act as a privateer, from their respective enemies, under the penalty of being considered and punished as a pirate.
Thus, after a tedious and unpleasant negociation of about fifteen years, the boundaries between the countries belonging to the United States and Spain, in America, were settled; and the right of navigating every part of the Mississippi, a right so important to a vast extent of country at the west, was secured to the United States.
The president was able, also, during this year, to bring to a close the long negociations with the Dey of Algiers; by which
peace was established with that regency, and the release of American captives obtained. This was effected through the agency of colonel Humphreys, Mr. Barlow, and Mr. Donalson. About one hundred and twenty American citizens were released from slavery; some of whom had been subjected to this ignominous state, more than ten years. As early as the summer of 1785, two American vessels were taken by the Algerines, and their crews, twenty-one in number, doomed to slavery. Many causes combined to prevent the release of these men, or those who had survived, until this time, some of which produced great distress and misery to the captives themselves. The American ministers in Europe, were authorized to make treaties with the Barbary powers; but their authority did not extend to the ransom of prisoners. They sent an agent, however, for the purpose of ransoming the crews of these vessels; but the sum he was authorized to give for their release, was far below the demands of the rapacious Dey. He was resolved to make the most of his new prisoners; and refused their release without the enormous sum of nearly sixty thousand dollars. The American government were unwilling to give a sum so much higher than had been given by other powers, and thereby establish a precedent, which would serve in future, but to increase the rapacity of this lawless freebooter, and induce him to prey upon American vessels, rather than those of any other power. The Dey believed that the United States would submit to any terms, rather than leave their citizens in slavery. It was thought best, therefore, to attempt their release secretly, and by the agency of some individuals, who should appear to act for themselves alone, and not for the United States. For this purpose, Mr. Jefferson, the American minister at Paris, with the approbation of congress, applied to a religious order in France, called Mathurins, instituted in ancient times, for the redemption of christian captives from the infidel powers. The principal of this order, readily undertook the business, and without any reward for his services.
The American prisoners had heretofore been supplied by the Spanish consul at Algiers; and his bills, for expenses thus incur
red, had been paid. The principal of the Mathurins, informed Mr. Jefferson, that these supplies, as he had understood from his agent, had been so liberal, as to convince the Dey, they came from a public source. He therefore recommended a discontinuance of this mode of supply, and that he be permitted to furnish them. That the daily allowance furnished by him, would be much less than they had heretofore received; and that being thus supported, as it would appear, by his charity, the demands of the Dey for their ransom might be lessened. To this arrangement the government assented, and agreed for a time, to appear to abandon them to their fate; and the captives themselves, and their friends, from this conduct of their government, were led to believe this to be really the case.
This belief affected the prisoners much more than slavery itself; and drew from them the most severe and bitter reproaches against their government and country. Unfortunately the exertions of the Mathurins were unsuccessful. Other individuals in Europe also attempted to ransom them, but without success. The Dey still believed their support came from the United States; and refused to reduce his demands within reasonable limits. During the interregnum which took place between the expiration of the old, and the final establishment of the new government, these poor captives seemed almost to have been forgotten. In the mean time, six of them had died. The subject of redeeming the survivors, was brought before the national legislature, under the new government, by the president, and the sum of forty thousand dollars was appropriated for their release. Admiral sir Paul Jones, and Mr. Barclay, were successively intrusted with this interesting negociation; but both of them, unfortunately, died before they reached Algiers; and thus the wretched situation of these men was prolonged. The business was then placed in the hands of colonel Humphreys, minister at Lisbon. While at Gibraltar, on his way to Algiers, in October, 1793, he met with the intelligence, that a truce, which we have before mentioned, between Portugal and Algiers, for one year, had taken place, and that an Algerine fleet had passed the straits into the Atlantic.
Within one month from this time, ten American vessels fell into the hands of these piratical freebooters, and more than one hundred American citizens were added to their fellow sufferers in slavery. Colonel Humphreys immediately sent a memorial to the Dey, requesting a passport for Algiers, for the purpose of negociating a peace, and the ransom of American prisoners. This was intrusted to the Swedish consul at that place, Mr. Skjoldebrand, who, with his brother, were friendly to America, and had generously assisted the 'American captives. On the presentation of this memorial, the Dey declared he would not make peace with the Americans, or any other nation, at any price. He not only refused the passport, but declared “that he would not allow any American ambassador, under any flag whatever." This conduct of the Dey precluded all hope of relief for the American captives, except from the effectual interposition of their own government. To obtain this, they sent, through the hands of colonel Humphreys, their petition to congress. The letter to him, enclosing this petition, signed by thirteen masters of vessels, for themselves and "brother sufferers," evinced a spirit worthy of those who had been born and educated in a land of freedom.
In addition to the horrors of slavery, they were threatened with the plague, then in the vicinity of Algiers. Crowded as they were, during the night, in slave prisons, with hundreds of captives of other nations, they deemed it next to impossible they should escape the contagion, should it enter the city. They requested, therefore, that a separate house might be obtained for their residence. They added, however, "at the same time, honored sir, and friend, be you assured, that we the American captives in this city of bondage, will bear our sufferings with fortitude and resignation, as becoming a race of men, endowed with su perior souls, in adversity."
Unable to go to Algiers with safety, colonel Humphreys went back to Lisbon, and afterwards returned to the United States. Congress appropriated about a million of dollars, to be applied under the direction of the president, to procure their release.