Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

in the following toast: —“Our brethren in slavery at Algiers. May the measures adopted for their redemption be successful, and may they live to rejoice with their friends in the blessings of liberty."

Meanwhile, the earnest efforts of our government were continued. In his message to Congress, bearing date December 8th, 1795, President Washington said: " With peculiar satisfaction I add, that information has been received from an agent deputed on our part to Algiers, importing that the terms of the treaty with the Dey and regency of that country have been adjusted in such a manner as to authorize the expectation of a speedy peace, and the restoration of our unfortunate fellow-citizens from a grievous captivity.” This, indeed, had been already effected on the 5th of September, 1795.* It was a treaty full of humiliation for the chivalry of our country. Besides securing to the Algerine government a large sum, in consideration of present peace and the liberation of the captives, it stipulated for an annual tribute from the United States of twenty-one thousand dollars. But feelings of pride disappeared in heartfelt satisfaction. It is recorded, that a thrill of joy went through the land when it was announced that a vessel had left Algiers, having on board all the Americans who had been in captivity there. Their emancipation was purchased at the cost of upwards of seven hundred thousand dollars. But the largess of money, and even the indignity of tribute, were forgotten in gratulations on their new-found happiness. The President, in a message to Congress, De

* United States Statutes at Large (Little & Brown's edit.), Treaties, Vol. VIII. p. 133; Lyman's Diplomacy, Vol. II. p. 362.

cember 7th, 1796, presented their “ actual liberation” as a special subject of joy “to every feeling heart” Thus did our government construct a Bridge of Gold for freedom.

This act of national generosity was followed by peace with Tripoli, purchased November 4th, 1796, for the sum of fifty thousand dollars, under the guaranty of the Dey of Algiers, who was declared to be “the mutual friend of the parties.” By an article in this treaty, negotiated by Joel Barlow, - out of tenderness, perhaps, to Mahomedanism, and to save our citizens from the slavery which was regarded as the just doom of “ Christian dogs," - it was expressly declared that " the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion." * At a later day, by a treaty with Tunis, purchased after some delay, but at a smaller price than that with Tripoli, all danger to our citizens seemed to be averted. In this treaty it was ignominiously provided, that fugitive slaves, taking refuge on board American merchant vessels, and even vessels of war, should be restored to their owners.t

As early as 1787, a treaty of a more liberal character had been entered into with Morocco, which was confirmed in 1795,1 at the price of twenty thousand dollars;

* Article 11 ; Lyman's Diplomacy, Vol. II. pp. 380, 381; United States Statutes at Large, Vol. VIII. p. 154.

† Article 6; United States Statutes at Large, Vol. VIII. p. 157. This treaty has two dates, August, 1797, and March, 1799. William Eaton and James Leander Cathcart were the agents of the United States at the latter date.

# Lyman's Diplomacy, Vol. II. p. 350 ; United States Statutes at Large, Vol. VIII. p. 100.

[ocr errors]

while, by a treaty with Spain, in 1799, this slave-trading empire expressly declared its desire that the name of slavery might be effaced from the memory of man.*

But these governments were barbarous, faithless, and regardless of the duties of humanity and justice. Treaties with them were evanescent. As in the days of Charles the Second, they seemed made merely to be broken. They were observed only so long as money was derived under their stipulations. Our growing commerce was soon again fatally vexed by the Barbary corsairs, who now compelled even the ships of our navy to submit to peculiar indignities. In 1801, the Bey of Tripoli formally declared war against the United States, and in token thereof “our flag-staff [before the consulate] was chopped down six feet from the ground, and left reclining on the terrace." + Our citizens once more became the prize of man-steal

Colonel Humphreys, now at home in retirement, was aroused. In an address to the public, he called again for united action, saying, — “ Americans of the United States, your fellow-citizens are in fetters! Can there be but one feeling? Where are the gallant remains of the race who fought for freedom ? Where the glorious heirs of their patriotism ? Will there never be a truce between political parties ? Or must it for ever be the fate of FREE STATES, that the soft voice of union should be drowned in the hoarse clamors of discord ? No! Let every friend of blessed humanity and sacred freedom entertain a better hope and

ers.

[blocks in formation]

confidence.” *

Col. Humphreys was not a statesman only ; he was known as a poet also. And in this character he made another appeal to his country. In a poem on “ The Future Glory of the United States," he breaks forth into an indignant condemnation of slavery, which, whatever may be the merits of its verse, should not be omitted here.

Teach me curst slavery's cruel woes to paint,
Beneath whose weight our captured freemen faint !

[blocks in formation]

Where am I! Heavens! what mean these dolorous cries? And what these horrid scenes that round me rise ? Heard ye the groans, those messengers of pain ? Heard ye the clanking of the captive's chain? Heard ye your freeborn sons their fate deplore, Pale in their chains and laboring at the oar ? Saw ye the dungeon, in whose blackest cell, That house of woe, your friends, your children, dwell?Or saw ye those who dread the torturing hour, Crushed by the rigors of a tyrant's power ? Sawo ye the shrinking slave, the uplifted lash, The frowning butcher, and the reddening gash ? Saw ye the fresh blood where it bubbling broke From purple scars, beneath the grinding stroke ? Saw ye the naked limbs writhed to and fro, In wild contortions of convulsing woe? Felt ye the blood, with pangs alternate rolled, Thrill through your veins and freeze with deathlike cold, Or fire, as down the tear of pity stole, Your manly breasts, and harrow up the soul ? † The people and government responded to this voice. And here commenced those early deeds by which our navy became known in Europe. The frigate Philadelphia, through a reverse of shipwreck rather than

* Miscellaneous Works of David Humphreys, p. 75. + Ibid. pp. 52, 53.

war, falling into the hands of the Tripolitans, was by a daring act of Decatur burnt under the guns of the enemy.

Other feats of hardihood ensued. A romantic expedition by General Eaton, from Alexandria, in Egypt, across the desert of Libya, captured Derne. Three several times Tripoli was attacked, and, at last, on the 3d of June, 1805, entered into a treaty, by which it was stipulated that the United States should pay sixty thousand dollars for the freedom of two hundred American slaves ; and that, in the event of future war between the two countries, prisoners should not be reduced to slavery, but should be exchanged rank for rank ; and if there were any deficiency on either side, it should be made up by the payment of five hundred Spanish dollars for each captain, three hundred dollars for each mate and supercargo, and one hundred dollars for each seaman. Thus did our country, after successes not without what is called the glory of arms, again purchase by money the emancipation of her white citizens.

The power of Tripoli was, however, inconsiderable. That of Algiers was more formidable. It is not a little curious, that the largest ship of this slave-trading state was the Crescent, of thirty-four guns, built in New Hampshire ; † though it is hardly to the credit of our sister State that the Algerine power derived such important support from her. The lawlessness of the corsair again broke forth by the seizure, in 1812, of the brig Edwin of Salem, and the enslavement of her

United States Statutes at Large, Vol. VIII. p. 214; Lyman's Diplomacy, Vol. II. p. 388.

† History of the War between the United States and Tripoli, p. 88.

« ElőzőTovább »