CHAPTER VI. Occurrences during my captivity—A Courier ar|rives from Alicant, sent by Col. Humphreys—The Dey refuses to treat with him, or to release the American slaves—A prize arrives, and proves to be the brig Minerva, of New-York, Joseph, In|graham, master—Receive a valuable allowance from the United States, by way of the Sweedish Consul—Several Americans attacked with the small pox—City alarmed with the plague—car|ries off several Americans—A Dutch admiral ar|rives, effects a peace with the Regency, and ran|soms Page 119 all the Dutch captives, in their possession—Al|gerines capture 200 Corsicans, they are redeemed—letter from American Captives to Col. Hum|phreys—his answer—Reports favourable to peace—Messrs. Humphreys and Donaldson arrive at Gibralter—The latter arrives at Alicant—sends a courier for, and obtains permission to come to Al|giers to conclude a peace with the Dey.—Mr. Donaldson arrives at Algiers, concludes a peace—Release of the captives not to take place until the ransom money is paid—prisoners minds agitated with hope, fear and suspence—Joel Barlow ar|rives as Consul General of the United States, for the city and kingdom of Algiers—The Ransom money procured and paid—The captives leave Al|giers.
NOTHING of any great mo|ment happened after the second of November 1793, (to which date I have already given an account) until the eleventh, when a courier ar|rived from Alicant, in Spain, sent by Col. Hum|phreys, the Ambassador from the United States for Algiers, to obtain the Deys permission for him to come to Algiers, and make a peace with the regency. The Dey answered, that "he would not receive him, either to make peace nor to redeem the American Slaves, that he had been soliciting the American government, to send an ambassador to make a peace with the Regency for three years before successively, that they had treated his propositions with Page 120 neglect and indifference; that as he had a truce with the Dutch and Portuguese; and had cap|tured ten sail of American vessels, and had a fair prospect of capturing many more, he would not make a peace with them—that he made the truce with Portugal, for the purpose of having the straits open for his vessels to cruize in the Atlantic, for capturing American vessels—that he could not be at peace with all nations at once."
At this dreadful news, we despaired of ever tasting the sweets of liberty again. Here we expected to end our days in the most laborious slavery, pregnant with unutterable distress, in whose presence reigns eternal horrors, and meagre famine leads its doleful train; where subjection adds to the weight of each curst load, and the pain of the vassal is doubled, it spreads a gloom over the sprightly face of nature, and dooms every pleasure to the grave. Behold here the humane benevolent man; the respect|able citizen, and affectionate parent—he who vindicated the sacred cause of liberty, and ador|ned society by inflexible honor. Behold him cruelly rent from the embraces of a beloved wife—from the arms of his infants—from eve|ry object beneath the circling rays of the sun, that could afford a gleam of momentary joy, and consigned to chains and misery! See him groaning under the burden imposed on him; and still bearing a heavier weight within. He silently wipes away the involuntary tear which rolls down his emaciated cheek, and struggles Page 121 to suppress the rising sigh. Follow him when evening approaches, into his destined dungeon. Observe the settled melancholy which preys upon his haggared countenance—Restless and forlorn, when he lays himself down to sleep, thought presents to his tortured imagination the happy moments of love and liberty! He now gives free scope to his grief, and bewails his cruel destiny, the briny torrent gushes un|restrained from his eyes, and moistens the stones on which his emacitated body is stretch|ed.—He exclaims, "O! happy, thrice happy days of former prosperity—my eyes behold no more the ineffable smiles of friendship or the en|dearing face of love! All nature is a vale of horror—a howling waste, and life has become a burden. Oh! my dear children—my dear wife, those former happy days are gone forev|er." Overwhelmed with heart rending an|guish, the stupor of insensibility affords him a momentary alleviation.
On the 29th, a prize arrived, and she prov|ed to be the brig Minerva of New York, load|ed with wine, oil, fruit and marble, command|ed by Joseph Ingraham, from Leghorn, bound to America. She was captured by the Alge|rines, on the 25th, within seven or eight miles of Cape St. Sebastian. When the captors ar|rived they brought the crew of the said brig. Seven more were now added to our number to participate in our distress, and partake with us the horrors of unspeakable slavery, and be|moan the loss of the blessing of liberty, drag|ing Page 122 out an unwelcome existence of a slave, on Barbary's hostile coast, and to be persecuted by the hands of merciless Mahometans, confined in dark and unwholesome dungeons, and loa|ded with galling irons, whose unrelenting task|master raises the bloody scourge, and exalts the engine of inhuman barbarity. Vain and fruit|less are our incessant supplications, our cries are lost in air, and resignation is our only an|tidote. Our accumulated wretchedness far surpasses the power of description, bereft of every dawn of consolation, filled with excruci|ating woe, we tremble, faint, and sink under the pressure of affliction. The most striking portrait, though exhibited by the pencil of a Hogarth, however affecting to the imagination, fal's infinitely short of the reality.
On the 23d of December, we were inform|ed by Mr. Skjolderbrand, the Sweedish Consul, that we were allowed a valuable supply from the United States; and that he had that day re|ceived orders and money, to pay each captain, belonging to the United States of America, eight Spanish dollars per month; each mate, six, and all the rest three dollars each. Our country also furnished us with a sufficient quantity of cloathing, decent and comforta|ble. This was happy news for us; for from the time of our being captured, to this day, we had been dragging out a miserable existence, scarce worth possessing, with no kind of sub|sistance except bread and vinegar, and water to drink. This generosity of the United S. Page 123 to us their enslaved countrymen was of inesti|mable value. It was more precious for being unexpected. No nation of Christendom had ever done the like for their subjects in our sit|uation.
The Republican government of the United States have set an example of humanity to all the governments of the world. Our relief was matter of admiration to merciless Barbarians. They viewed the American character from this time in the most exalted light. They ex|claimed, that, "Though we were slaves we were gentlemen," that "the American people must be the best in the world to be so humane and generous to their countrymen in slavery." The goodness of my country I shall never forget. Our money would now enable us to purchase some kind of provision, that we might have something to eat at night, when we went to the Bagnio, that gloomy mansion of horror and despair. But these avaricious sons of rapine and plunder, would endeavor to extort this little relief out of our hands; and as they were not allowed to take it by force, they would endeavour to get it by fraud. For when we were in the Bagnio, and wished to buy any kind of provi|sion, (as we were not allowed to go out after we had entered) these fraudulent wretches, would gladly go and purchase them for us (on condition of being well paid for their trouble) and they would tell us they gave double what they really did give. In this manner they cheated us out of one half our money. This Page 124 supply was allowed us until the day of our li|beration, with the addition of three quarters of a dollar per Month, for the seamen, the officers being allowed the same they were at first, with no addition.
Soon after receiving the above mentioned sup|ply, and a letter from Col. David Humphreys, informing the American Captains of his arrang|ments, they wrote him the following letter..
Algiers,29th December, 1793.
WE the subscribers, in behalf of ourselves, and brother-sufferers, at present cap|tives, in this city of human misery, return you our sincere thanks, for your communications of the 29th ult. and for the provision you have been pleased to allow us, in order to alleviate somewhat our sufferings in our present situation.
We have drawn up and signed two petitions one to the Senate, and the other to the House of Representatives, and we shall esteem it, a|mong the many favors you have rendered us, that you will please to forward these petitions to their respective address, so that no time may be lost, but that they may be laid before the Representatives of our country, hoping that the United States, will fully provide funds for extricating us from captivity, and restore us to our Country, families, friends, & connections.
We have perused with sentiments of satis|faction and approbation, your memorial to the Regency of Algiers, and have to observe, that Page 125 its contents fully coincide with our sentiments on this business, which we trust, in the Al|mighty God, will terminate to the honor and interest of our common country, notwith|standing the insinuations, of those in this quar|ter to the prejudice of the United States.
We trust, and hope, that the United States will adopt such effectual plans, in order to pre|vent any more of our brethren, sharing our unhappy fate, which unavoidably must happen if some speedy and decisive means are not im|mediately put in execution; as we understand the Portuguese truce, with this regency was a|greed on for one year.
What damps our spirits in some degree, is, that we are informed, that the plague, that fatal and tremendous disorder, has given its awful alarm in the country adjacent. And as your unfortunate countrymen are confined during the night time, in the slave prisons, with six hundred captives of other nations, in each prison, from our crowded situation, we must be exposed to this contagious disorder; which necessitates the subscribers, to intreat you, sir, that in this case, those our friends, and of influence in this Regency, will be authorized by you, and our honoured country|men, Mr. Carmichael, and Mr. Short, to have a house taken for the residence of the Ameri|can masters and mates, and, if possible, the mariners, to shield them from the threatening storm of mortality and danger.
Page 126 We make no doubt, but in case of the Al|mighty's wrath, visiting this city of iniquity, but the Dey and Regency, would acquiese to the proposed plan of humanity, which would be establishing an example for the general well|fare of mankind—and would to posterity be recorded to the immortal honor of the United States.
At the same time, honored sir, and friend, be you assured, for your consolation, that we the American captives, in this city of bondage, will bear our sufferings with fortitude and re|signation, as becoming a race of men endowed with superior souls in adversity.
We are much indebted to Mr. Skjoldebrand and brother, his Swedish Majesty's agents, in this city, for their humanity, and attention to the American captives; and feel ourselves par|ticularly obliged to you for recommending us to the good offices of Consuls, Skjoldebrand, and Mace, whom you mention to us as friends.
With sentiments of gratitude and the most profound respect, we remain,
your most obedient most humble servants. Signed by the Captains, in behalf of ourselves, and brother-sufferers.
To DAVID HUMPHREYS, ESQ.
Page 127 About the first of February 1794, a courier arrived from Alicant and brought the follow|ing answer.
Madrid,January 12 th 1794.
I HAVE been favored by the re|ceipt of your joint letter, dated the 29th of December, and, as I am about to set out im|mediately for Lisbon, I shall be able to do little more than assure you that your memorials to Senate and House of Representatives of the United States shall be forwarded to them in the earliest and safest manner, possible. Having communicated to Messrs. Carmichael, and Short, your apprehension that the plague may again be introduced to Algiers, from the adja|cent countries, where it is already said to pre|vail; we have not hesitated to concur with you in sentiment, that in case of that dreadful event, it might be useful for you to have a house hired in the country; in order to en|deavour, by all human precautions, to prevent your falling victims to that terrible disorder. Where upon Mr. Robert Montgomery, Consul of the United States, at Alicant, has been em|powered, in case that dreadful event should should happen, to furnish sufficient money to pay for the hire of a house, in the manner and for the purpose you propose. This provision|al arrangement to continue in force, until Mr. Montgomery shall receive ulterior instructions from the Government of the United States, for continuing or suspending the same.
Page 128 I entreat you will be persuaded, my dear and unfortunate countrymen, that I receive with great satisfaction the marks of your approba|tion, of the honest, but ineffectual efforts I have made in your favour. Would to heaven, they had been as successful, as they were disinterest|ed and sincere.
I have only to repeat, that you may at all times, and on all occasions, count upon the sympathetic regard,
your real friend, and affectionate fellow citizen. D. HUMPHREYS.
P. S. Though I have repeatedly remarked, that it may perhaps, (for particular reasons) be inexpedient for me to keep up a regular cor|respondence with you: yet it is proper I should add, that I shall always be glad to hear from you; and that it may be particularly interest|ing to the government of our country, to re|ceive at the earliest possible period, all intelli|gence of importance. I shall therefore always be ready to communicate such intelligence, un|til some nearer, and better channel of commu|nication can be established.
This letter was accompanied by another from Mr. Montgomery, authorising the Swedish Con|sul, to make the before-mentioned proposal to the Dey, and to offer payment to the Regency, for the time of all Americans, that the Dey Page 129 would be pleased to let go, to any garden, or house, to reside until this dreadful storm of mortality should be over.
Accordingly when the plague spread its a|larm in the city, Mr. Skjoldebrand went to the Dey with this proposal, to which the execra|ble son of Ishmael replied in words to this purpose, "Does the American Government suppose, I am going to do my work myself, when I have so many slaves; or do they think to make an Ass of me, by hiring my slaves, to live in idleness. No while they have life, they shall work, and if they die with the plague, it will be my loss, not theirs!"
About the first of February, 1794, several Americans were attacked with the small pox. Of this epidemical disease, four of my country|men died in the course of the month, as fol|lows, Samuel Milborne, chief mate of the ship Minerva, belonging to Philadelphia, Richard Wood, mate of the brig Olive Branch of Ports|mouth (N. H.) John Mott, mariner, of the for|mer vessel, and Thomas Furnace, Cabin boy, of the latter. A short time after, the city was alarmed with the plague. This fatal and con|tagious, disorder, carried off many Americans, whom I shall name, in the list of Americans, (captured by the Algerines) in the latter part of this book. About the last of april, a Dutch Ad|miral arrived in the bay, with four sail of the line, and two frigates, and in a few days effect|ed a peace with the Regency. He ransomed all the Dutch captives, which the Algerines, had in their possession. It being an old custom a|mong Page 130 the Algerines, when they make a peace with any Christian nation, to oblige that nation to ransom the Dey's chief servant, and the sweeper of his palace, should they be of a dif|ferent nation, from the captives liberated.—Accordingly, when the Dutch ransomed their captives, they also ransomed one Philip Sloan, an American, who was captured in the year '75 on board the Ship Dolphin of Philadelphia; commanded by Richard O'Brien, he being at this time the sweeper of the palace.
In the month of September, '94, the Alge|rines captured two hundred and one Corsicans. The manner of capturing them was somewhat singular. The Corsicans, while they were un|der the government of France, had licence from the Dey of Algiers, to fish for Coral on the coast of Africa, from the bay of Bona, to the I|sland Gallette. They having now surrendered the Island of Corsica * to the English, they sup|posed they still enjoyed the same privelege.—Accordingly they equipped about 30 boats for this purpose. They sailed under the convoy of an armed brig. Having been a few days upon the coast, a French cruising frigate cap|tured their convoy, and several, of their boats. The rest sought refuge in the harbor of Bona. The Alcaid, (or Mayor of the town) not know|ing Page 131 their flag, (which is a white field with a Moors head in the centre,) and thinking this too delicious a morsel to pass unnoticed, consi|ned them all in the Mortimore or dungeon, and secured their boats. He then sent and in|formed the Dey of Algiers, what he had done, asking his orders concerning them. The Dey being always willing to catch at every opportu|nity of plundering, and thinking this too valu|able a gem to escape his predatory rapine, he commanded them all to be brought to Algiers, and made slaves, which was accordingly done. They remained in captivity until the month of March '96. And were then ransomed by the English, at the rate of 1,200, dollars each: And the English made the following addition to their former Treaty. The Algerines may carry their prizes into Corsica, and sell them publicly. Every month a packet shall carry letters from and to Corsica, to and from Al|giers. The English shall take nothing which they find on board the Algerine vessels, and if any difficulties, shall arise, the Dey shall decide upon it. The Dey (for the stipulated sum of 1,200 dollars each) grants liberty to all slaves now in his possession who were born in the I|sland of Corsica, and permits the Corsicans to fish for Coral upon the coasts of Barbary.
On the 24th of April '95, we had the satis|faction of being deprived of the most Tyrannic guardian, or task-master, we ever had during my captivity. He was know by the name of Sherief. This cruel villain never appeared to be Page 132 be in his element, except when he was cruelly punishing some Christian captives. On the day before mentioned; he with another task|master being sent with twenty slaves, to re|move a pile of boards, which was in a maga|zine, upon the walls of the city, and he having beat several slaves, unmercifully without any provocation; an American exclaimed (in the English language, which the Turk did not un|derstand,) "God grant you may die, the first time you offer to abuse another man." A few minutes afterwards, as a slave was going upon some plank, which was laid from the first wall to the second, having his load upon his back. Sherief thinking he did not proceed as fast as he might, ran and endeavoring to strike him, missed his stroke; his stick gave him such a sudden jirk, that he fell from the planks, be|tween the walls, and was dashed to pieces.—Thus ended the days of a godless wretch, ap|parently in a moment, swept away by the de|vout breath of a suffering Christian; to the great joy and satisfaction of all the slaves be|longing to the regency.
On the 28th of August, an English privateer Xebec, belonging to Gibralter was cruising on the coast, off Oran, and being in want of pro|visions sent her boat on shore, to purchase some; As soon as the boat landed, the barba|rians demanded of the officer, his passport for the vessel, and being told it was on board, they sent off a boat, and very politely invited the Captain, to enter the port, with his vessel, and Page 133 purchase, what he stood in need of. He ac|cordingly went in and brought his vessel to an anchor. No sooner was this done than they demanded of him, his passport, which was im|mediately produced. On examining it, they found it was for a square rigged vessel, and his privateer being a Xebec, it excited suspicion. They therefore, confined the captain and crew, and sent them in irons to Algiers. The Dey on seeing the passport, declared the vessel and crew to be Genoese, with false papers, he ac|cordingly condemned them as such. They re|mained eight months, in captivity, and were then liberated by the British government.
We heard many encouraging reports, dur|ing our captivity, but none proved to be fact, until the month of July 1795, when a vessel arrived from Gibralter, and brought us the joyful news, that David Humphreys, Esq. and Joseph Donaldson, Jun. Esq. had arrived at that place, from America, a few days previous to her sailing, and that Mr. Donaldson was desti|ned for Algiers, to effect a peace between the Regency, and the United States of America.—This news was confirmed about the tenth of August, when a Spanish courier arrived from Alicant, with a letter from Mr. Donaldson, (who was then at that place) directed to the Dey of Algiers, the contents of which was to obtain the Dey's permission for him to come and conclude a peace between the two nations. The Dey at this time being very anxious, to have an American Ambassador come, and ne|gociate Page 134 with him for a peace, and the redemp|tion of the captives, and wishing to have af|fairs amicably settled between him and the U|nited States, he chartered a Ragusean polacre, and sent her to Alicant, to bring Mr. Donald|son to Algiers. She sailed on the eleventh of August, and when she had been fourteen or sixteen days absent, and not hearing any thing from her, our spirits were very much damped, fearing some mishap had befallen her; as eight or ten days is sufficient to perform this voyage with a common chance of winds. We how|ever, feared the worst and hoped for the best, until the joyful day at last arrived. Thursday, the 3d of September, 1795, the wind being a|bout W. b. S. at nine A. M. saw a sail from the marine bearing N. b. W. standing directly for the harbour. At eleven, A. M. we could discern that she had a white flag at her fore|top-gallant-mast head, the American flag at the main, and the Ragusean flag over her stern.—This being a flag of truce, and denoting the American ambassador was on board. Such transports is were raised in our hearts at this moment (with the anticipation of approaching Liberty) are conceivable, but far transcends the power of description. At 3 P. M. she be|ing within one mile of the mole, the harbour|master went on board with permission from the Dey, for Mr. Donaldson to land when he tho't proper. At 4 he landed, and was conducted by some of the chief men of the place, to a ve|ry Page 135 elegant house, which the Dey had provided for him, previous to his arrival.
It now being too late for him to see the Dey that night, he was obliged to refer the negociation till Saturday. Friday the 4th be|ing the Mahometan Sabbath, he could not do any kind of business with the Dey. The sus|pence, the hope, fear, and agitation we suffer|ed this day, may be conceived, but not descri|bed. An ambassador to redeem us had arrived. What would be his success we knew not—a whole day was passing away and nothing done. Never was there a longer, more tedious day in the annals of slavery—Again we must repair to our mansion of misery, and in suspence wear out a night of sleepless anxiety.
Saturday, the 5th about 11 A. M. Mr. Do|naldson was invited into the Dey's presence.—Accordingly he went and about twelve o'clock a peace was concluded. The American flag was then hoisted on board the Ragusean pola|cre, and the banner of the United States was saluted from the castles of Fenelle and Corda|lares, with the thunders of twenty one can|non. Sounds more ravishing never vibrated in the air; our hearts hearts were joy. We imagined ourselves already free men. In idea, our chains were falling off, & our task-masters no longer at liberty to torture us. In imagi|nation we were already traversing the ocean; hailing our native shore; embracing our pa|rents, our children and our wives. This de|lirium of joy was of short duration; like a Page 136 dazzling meteor in a dark night, which blazes for a moment, making succeeding darkness more dreadful; our enchanting hopes left us to despondency, horrible beyond description. In about five hours we were informed that the cup of our sufferings was not yet drained;—that we could not be released till our ransom was paid! Never was there a more sudden or affecting change in the countenances and con|versations of men. Instead of sprightly looks, cheerful congratulations and sanguine anticipa|tions of finished bliss; there was nothing but faces of sadness and the most gloomy silence, interrupted only with sounds of complaint, or sighs of dispair. "Not released till our ran|som is paid!" How long, said we, may our country neglect us? How many fatalities be|fall our redemption on its passage! How many disappointments may yet occur! How long may our chains and torments be continued!
After we had done work that evening and retired to our gloomy Bagnio; I was infor|med, by the Dey's Christian Clerk, that my|self, Abiel Willis, and Thomas Billings, must immediately repair to the ambassador's house! he accordingly procured permission from the keeper of the prison, to let us pass out. On our arrival at Mr. Donaldson's house, he in|formed us that the Dey had granted him three captives, as servants to him, and that he was under an obligation to pay a certain sum to the Regency for our labour, that he was likewise responsible for our good behaviour, and hoped Page 137 we should behave ourselves accordingly. We remained with him and Mr. Barlow, in the ca|pacity of servants., from this day, until the day of our liberation. This was a great favour, conferred on us, for now we were exempted from the labour and torture of these execrable task masters, but still we were slaves. Disguise thyself as thou wilt, still, slavery, thou art a bitter draught.
On Friday the 11th, Captain O'Brien, was liberated by Mr. Donaldson, and dispatched by him from Algiers, on board a Spanish vessel, with dispatches for Mr. Humphreys, who was at this time in Lisbon. We had information, about five weeks afterwards, that Capt O'Bri|en arrived at Malaga, after a passage of seven days, and that he took passage from thence for Lisbon, by land. This again revived our hopes, and every vessel that appeared in sight, we con|jectured, was bringing the money for our re|demption. But what perturbations we suffer|ed, during this period, is far beyond my pow|ers of description. Month after month, was passing away, and vessel after vessel arriving, but no tidings of our manumission. In this most gloomy situation we worried out four long months, an had almost despaired of ev|er being released, and were beginning to be|lieve that all we had heard or seen, was a phan|tom, intended only to illure our hopes, and then leave us in immense embarrassments, as an Ignis satuus doth the heedless traveller. About Page 138 the middle of January 1796, Mr. Donaldson informed us, that he had received letters from Mr. Humphreys, and expected the money for our redemption would be in Algiers, within ten or twelve days. This in some measure al|leviated our drooping spirits; however, we were still fearful, least the Dey should take um|brage at such long delays, and order Mr. Do|naldson away, break the truce, & recommence hostilities. Should this happen we knew our awful destiny, which would be to spend our days in slavery.
In this suspence we continued until the mid|dle of March, and no money arrived, when (O! horrible tidings) we understood that the Dey had got impatient with the delay of the money, and had ordered Mr. Donaldson to leave the place, and declared he would send out his corsairs and bring in every American vessel they met with, and that he would never make a peace with the United States, during his reign. Now again we were despondent, and not without a reason. Consider reader, what must have been our feelings at this time. For me to attempt, to describe them, would be endeavouring to effect an impossibility. I therefore leave the reader to judge from his own breast, what terrible convulsions must have been raised in ours, at this dilemma; after so many enchanting hopes, had appeared, that we should be left to this despondency.
On the 21st of March, a brig arrived in the bay, with the American colours over her stern, Page 139 and she proved to be the Sally of Philadelphia, commanded by—March, from Marseilles. She brought as a passenger Joel Barlow, Esq. Consul General of the United States of Ame|rica, for the city and kingdom of Algiers. The Dey gave him liberty to land, as a private gen|tlemen, but not to perform the functions of his office. This worthy gentleman, whose com|passionate services for his distressed country|men, can never be estimated too highly, nor praised too much, gave us all the encourage|ment he could; assuring us, he would never quit Algiers, and leave us in slavery. While we were in this suspence, we received the fol|lowing letter from Col. David Humphreys, Esq. who likewise faithfully did for us all that could be done.
Copy, Lisbon,Feb. 16, 1796.
My dear Fellow-Citizens,
THE object of this letter is to as|sure you, that you are neither forgotten or neglected by your country. I have written to his Excellency the Dey, by this conveyance, stating truly the inevitable obstacles which have retarded the completion of our arrange|ments with the Regency until this period; and which may, perhaps, still protract the de|lay for a considerable time to come. I have also written explanatory letters, in a copious manner, on the subject, to Messrs. Barlow Page 140 (who I hope will soon be in Algiers) Donald|son, Cathcart, &c.
Impossibilities cannot be effected; But what|ever is in its nature practicable, will be done in your behalf.
Let me therefore, my dear Countrymen, once more (and God grant it may be the last time, I may have occasion to do it;) exhort you to be of good courage, to exert all your fortitude, to have a little more patience, to hope always for the best, and to be persuaded that every thing is doing and shall be done, which the nature of the circumstances will ad|mit, for your relief.
In all events, be assured of my persevering efforts in your favour, and of the sincere at|tachments and regard, with which I shall ever remain,
My Dear Countrymen,
Your obedient humble servant D. Humphreys.
A few days afterwards, Mr. Barlow, (thro' the intercession of the Sweedish Consul, and some of the principal officers of the Regency, who had great influence with the Dey.) ob|tained permission to see this despotic Algerine prince; with whom he made new arrange|ments, and obtained a further indulgence of three months to procure the money in. Our hopes were again revived with these new ne|gociations, and we meditated a possibility of Page 141 his obtaining it, before the time specified should expire.
About the first of April, Mr. Donaldson sailed from Algiers destined for Leghorn, on board a Venetian ship, and we were informed that his mission, was to procure the money for our redemption. At the time of his depar|ture, the Plague that fatal epidemical disorder, had spread its alarm in the country adjacent. And which soon made its appearance (for the second time, during my captivity) in the city, and which put a period to the existence of ma|ny of my fellow-countrymen, * when they were expecting every day to be called free men.
The long and tedious days passed, as they had done before, with the expectation of Li|berty, in every coming sail. But (O! hor|rible to relate) at length the time specified was expired and no money had arrived, and we ex|pected every moment to hear the awful sen|tence, of Slavery for life, passed upon us.—What else could we expect or even hope from a ferocious absolute Monarch, like Hassan Ba|shaw, ‡ one of the genuine children of Ishmael, whose "hands was against every man, and e|very man's hand against him." But instead of the terrible sentence of continued slavery, the next sound which echoed in our ears, was the joyful news, of approaching Liberty. For Page 142(the ever be praised) Mr. Barlow, on seeing the time, wherein the money was to be produced, was already passed, and neither tidings, nor money appeared, and being fearful least the Dey, should be again exasperated with its de|lay, he used his utmost efforts to procure it in Algiers. He accordingly abtained a promise from Mr. Machio Baccri, (who was a Jew be|longing to the Regency) that he would ad|vance him, one hundred and eighty thousand dollars, in the course of three of four days, which was just the sum required for the Re|demption of the American captives. The Dey (on being informed of this by Mr. Bar|low) at first refused to let us go, because the money to pay for the peace had not arrived, however he at last consented to take it, and set us at liberty. On the 5th of July, we were informed by a letter from Mr. Barlow that we might expect to be at liberty within three or four days. But advised us not to put too much dependence, for says he, "the heart of your Pharoah may be again hardened." He however assured us that he had no doubt but we should be free men within three days: for as the Dey had agreed to accept the money, it should be paid as soon as it could be counted. This filled our hearts with joy, and we imagin|ed ourselves the happiest people in the world. For a long period we had been suffering the most inhuman slavery; loaded with almost an insupportable weight of chains, and were now expecting to enjoy Liberty; the greatest bless|ing Page 143 human beings ever possessed. And our ex|pectations at this time were not visionary nor unfounded, as had so often been the case with us before, for it proved to be a happy reality. What a joyful night was this. We passed it with praises to our kind deliverer. And san|guine anticipations of ensuing freedom. Our stoney floors on which we laid, were apparent|ly softer than beds of down. The chains on our legs were seemingly of on weight. Our cruel task-masters now looked on us, with smiling countenances, and congratulated us, on our good fortune, in the following singular manner: "Sanzafidas droak imche il blaedic, ila kelp ou Romi." Which in English is thus, "you unbelievers, now your are going to the country of Christian dogs."
On the 10th at day break in the morning, all hands were called as usual. And a few minutes before the time, that the doors are o|pened for the slaves to go out to work; we were notified by the Bagnio-keeper, that all the people taken under the American flag must stay in the Bagnio, and hold themselves in rea|diness to go to the Dey's palace, and receive our tiscaras, or pass-ports from the Dey; and that we should be embarked the next morning. However it so happened, that the Dey could not attend, to give us our tiscaras that night, though he received the money. This long and tedious night was spent, in anxious expec|tation of hearing the sweet sound of Liberty echo in our ears, on the approaching morning. Page 144 And O! glorious event, this was the ultimate night we ever spent, in that gloomy dungeon, that horrible mansion of wretchedness and misery.
On the 11th we were again notified by the Bagnio Keeper, that we must be ready to go to the Dey's palace, for our pass-port. A short time after the slaves of other nations had gone out to work we were all called out of the Bag|nio, into the street, where we were received by the Dey's chief clerk, who conducted us to the palace, and there each man received his tis|cara from the Dey. The sweeper of the palace at this time, being a Venetian, he was liberated according to custom. At 9 o'clock, A. M. we all embarked on board a ship, belonging to Mr. Machio Baccri. This vessel had formerly been an English transport (the Bridget of London) had been captured by the French Republicans, and brought into Algiers, and there condemned. On board of this ship were also forty eight Neapolitans, who had been ransomed a few days before us. Oh! what a glorious sight, now could we behold the stripes and stars fly|ing with honor, where they had so often been hoisted with contempt. Every tongue was ut|tering, long live the humane benevolent Barlow.—O! Happy day, O! Happy day.
While we (Americans) were enjoying the fruits of this happy event, there was nothing to be heard, from the slaves of other nations, but the most bitter curses heaped upon their governments, and Sovereigns. They being Page 145 chiefly of the Roman Catholic Religion, are taught, that they are the only true Christians, and having now seen the Dutch, and Ameri|cans liberated, and they neglected, it exaspera|ted them to such a degree, that they would ex|claim in the most violent language against their Priests, Sovereigns, and religion. "Why," said they, "are we, who are true Christians, un|noticed, by our country and suffered to remain here in slavery, while the Protestants, (who are no more than degenerated christians) are daily emancipated, and are not suffered to wear the yoke of slavery." They would say to each other, "Behold what examples of hu|manity, are now set by the Protestants, and how little they are noticed by the Roman Ca|tholic governments." These and similar ex|pressions, were in the mouths of every slave, whom we left behind.
On the 12th we received the provision on board, and got the ship ready for sea. On this day Joseph Rogers, belonging to Salisbu|ry, on Merimack river, paid the great debt of Page 146 nature. He was attacked with the plague on the 10th and remained in the hospital on shore.
On the 13th at 5 A. M. we got under way and stood to sea, at 7 A. M. we found a Neo|politan below sick with the plague, we then tacked and stood into the bay again, and made signals for the harbour master to come on board. He boarded us at nine and took the sick man on shore; we then tack'd and stood to sea again with a fresh breeze from the east|ward, destined for Leghorn. At 4 P. M. to our great joy and satisfaction, we lost sight of the Barbary shore.
On the 14th, another Neapolitan was at|tacked with the plague, and died on the 16th. On the 15th, Captain Samuel E. Baily, was attacked with the plague. Finding the plague beginning to rage on board the ship, we direc|ted our course for Marseilles, * this being the nearest port in the Mediterranean, wherein we should be permitted to perform quarantine, with this contagious disorder on board. On the 17th Capt. Bailey died, whom we committed to his watery grave in as decent a manner as our pre|sent situation would admit. On the 20th, we ar|rived Page 147 at Marseilles. On the 22d, all hands, except twelve, who remained on board to take care of the ship, went on shore to the Lazaretto, where we performed a quarantime of eighty Days, and nothing particular happened during our residence here. We were supplied with provisions by the American Consul.
On the 7th of October, we were visited ear|ly in the morning, by several Doctors, who finding us all in good health, ordered us to be smoaked at the smoke house, and then gave us Praddick. At 9, A. M. we were conducted by a company of the city guards to the house of Stephen Catherlan, Jun. Esq. Vice Consul of the United States of America for the city of Marseilles; he provided lodging and provisions for us all.
On the 8th, I shipped myself in the capacity of first mate on board the ship Fortune of Phi|ladelphia, commanded by Michael Smith. This is the ship which brought us from Algiers, and during our quarantine, she was purchased by Mr. Donaldson, who gave her the name of For|tune, he being at this time in Leghorn. On the 13th of November, a Sweedish ship sailed from Marscilles, bound to Philadelphia, and carried as passengers all the Americans, (late prisoners in Algiers) except those who tarried on board the Fortune.
On the 17th November we sailed from Mar|seilles, bound to Bona, (in the state of Algiers) where we arrived after a passage of twenty days, which brought it to the 7th of December.— Page 148 Bona is supposed to be the same place with the ancient Hippo, a sea port, built by the ancients. It was formerly the metropolis of the province of Bona. It lies on a bay of the Mediterrane|an sea, in lat. 36, 45 N. and 7, 53 east long. a|bout two hundred and eighty miles to the eastward of the city of Algiers, and about fifty seven miles S. W. from the Island Gallette.—Near Bona, is La Callee, which is at present oc|cuped by the French, who pay an annual tri|bute to the Dey of Algiers for the privilege of the coral fishery. In this place is a French factory, where the Moors and Arabs dispose of their produce. Bona is about two miles in circumference; it was formerly a magnificent city, but at present is a town of very little im|portance, and of slender population. It is de|pended by a fortress, and a garrison of Turks, and what is sufficient to ascertain the depth of its wretchedness, (as well as in all other parts of the territory) is, that a Turk is the most respectable character among them. In this part of the world, elegant architecture, has for many years, been utterly forgotten or despised. The buildings are therefore very mean, and are exposed to the incursions of the Arabs—The name of these people is used in a very in|determinate manner. Although Algiers is at a very long distance from Arabia, yet as this part of Africa was formerly subdued by the Arabians, under the banner of Mahomet, the name is still applied to a race of dark complec|tioned, independent Barbarians, who spread Page 149 about the country in devious routs, unite the double profession of a shepherd and a robber. Bona is computed to contain about nine thou|sand inhabitants, who are composed of the pos|terity of many different nations. It has their mosques, which are somewhat larger than the other buildings, though these are by no means magnificent. It is commanded by an Alcaid who pays an annual tribute to the Dey of Al|giers, in wheat, butter, honey, and oil. The former grandeur of this city, is now only to be traced in the remains, and ruins of an an|cient monastery. Near the river Sef Gomar, & not far from Constantina * is an ancient and noble bridge; which is built across a valley. This bridge has five arches, and extends from one mountain to another. There is not the least appearance of any river ever having been under it, and it is supposed it was built mere|to gratify the curiosity of some ancient prince, or king who commanded in those parts in for|mer days, but no history gives any account of its founder. Near this is a very large subter|raneous aqueduct, which terminates in a cas|cade. It is reported that state criminals are sometimes precipitated down this place, and are dashed to pieces upon the rocks at the bottom.
On the 21st of December we began to take on board our cargo, and finished loading on the 15th of January '97, and sailed for Mar|seiles on the 17th.
Page 150 On the 24th, being in lat. 37, 26, N. & long 6, 56, E. was boarded by his Britannic Majes|ty's ship Pallas, treated politely and permitted to proceed on our voyage.
February 5th, at 6, A. M. Marseilles light house bore N. N. E. about nine leagues dist|ant, wind N. N. W. we were standing in for the land, on our larboard tack, and soon dis|covered two ships between us and the land stand|ing directly for us, we continued on our course till we came within hail of them, who ordered us to heave too, which being done, they board|ed us, and enquired from whence we came, and where bound, and informed us, that, they were his Britannic Majesty's ships, Inconstant and Blanche. Captain Smith, was then ordered to go on board the Inconstant, with his papers, which he accordingly did, & after a strict exa|mination they manned our ship, from the In|constant, and took Captain Smith, the second mate, and all our seamen, on board the frigate, and kept them upon prisoners allowance. Being left on board the Fortune, I did not want for provisions, and was treated very politely by the prize-master and crew. We were then order|ed for adjudication, to Porto Ferrajo, in the tin the Island of Elba. On the 15th in the morning we saw the Islands of Corsica, Gor|gona and Elba and having a fresh breeze from the westward, we anchored in Porto Ferrajo, at 5, P. M.
On the 16th we were all sent on shore, not even being allowed to remain on board the Page 151 or frigate, except we would enter into his Bri|tannic Majesty's service. This was done by the British commander, in order to reduce us to necessity, as all 〈◊〉 of provisions were ve|ry high here and knowing we could not sub|sist long without money, he expected we should be glad to accept his proposals, but finding none of us would enter, he impressed George Tilley on board the Inconstant, under pretence of his being an Englishman;—on the 19th Richard Hales, Matthew Johnson, and William Lackey entered on board the Union, a British transport. The rest of us being determined not to enter in the British service, we procur|ed a passage for Leghorn. Having been rob|bed of the greatest part of our cloaths and all our money by the captors, we found it very difficult to subsist untill the vessel was ready to sail, as one meal of victuals could not be pur|chased here for less than eighty cents.
The Island of Elba lies in the Mediterrane|an sea, about twelve leagues, W. S. W. from Piombino a small port in the kingdom of Na|ples, it lies in forty two degrees & forty eight minutes, north latitude, and nine degrees, & fifty minutes east longitude. The western part of it is governed by the Grand Duke of Tus|cany, and the eastern part by the king of Na|ples. It has several small ports, but its capital is Porto Ferrajo. This place is very strongly fortified, and a large garrison of soldiers are continually kept here by the Grand Duke.—To this place he sends the chief of the malefac|tors, Page 152 who are condemned to slavery, and keeps them constantly employed in fortifying the place, and cleaning the harbour. Those who are condemned for life, are dressed entirely in yellow, and those for a certain specified time, are obliged to wear all red. This is the mark by which they may be distinguished. They are kept constantly chained, and draw the same allowance of provisions as the Tuscan soldiers. The fight of such a number of mis|erable wretches, doomed to perpetual slavery, was really affecting.
When the French took possession of Leghorn, which is the capital sea-port of Tuscany, and obliged the English to flee, the latter by way of retaliation, took possession of Porto Ferrajo, into which place they carried, and condemned their prizes at this time, but returned it to the Grand Duke about the beginning of May, '97. Page 153 We sailed for Leghorn on the 23d, and arrived on the 24th, and were kept in quarantine un|til the 5th of March, on which day Captain Smith arrived from Porto Ferrajo. The reason of our being put into quarantine at this time was on account of our having come from Barbary, as there is a law among all Christian nations, who border on the Mediterranean;—that when any vessel arrives in their ports, the commander of such vessel must shew his bill of health, and affirm that his vessel has not been boarded by any vessel of war or any vessel whatever, having come from Barbary, before he can get permission to go on shore. If his vessel has been boarded by any of the above mentioned vessels, or his last port was one of those of Barbary, he and his vessel are obliged to ride a quarantine. And as the last port we sailed from, in the Fortune, was Bona, before we were taken by the English, we were liable to this quarantine, but the English command|er, on his arrival at Porto Ferrajo, went im|mediately on shore without having obtained permission, in consequence of which the whole Island was put into quarantine, and any boat, vessel, or person, going from this Island while it was under this restriction, were obliged to perform their quarantine in the port where they arrived.
On the 10th, Captain Smith sailed from Marseilles, on board a polacre belonging to Genoa, taking with him all the remainder of the Fortune's crew, except myself and Moses Page 154 Brown: Brown, at this time being sick in the hospital, was not able to proceed; but soon af|ter recovered his health and went to Marseilles by land; from whence he took passage for Philadelphia, on board a brig belonging to that place. On the 15th Mr. Donaldson, (who was the American Ambassador at this time in the Mediterranean) informed me that he was going to Porto Ferrajo, and wished to have me accompany him, as his chief business was, to endeavour to recover the ship Fortune. I ac|cordingly waited till he was ready to go. On the 19th Mr. Donaldson told me he should be ready to go the next morning, and desired that I would take a boat, and five men, (which he had procured) and proceed to Piombino a small port in the dominions of the King of Na|ples, and there wait his arrival, as he intended to go to that place by land, in order to settle some business, at Pisa, * and Lucea, both of which lay in his way to Piombino. Accor|dingly the next morning, which was the 20th I sailed, and having a fresh breeze from the N. W. I arrived at Barato, the same evening. On the 21st I sailed from Barato, and arrived at Page 155 Piombino the same afternoon. Mr. Donald|son arrived on the 22d, and we sailed for Porto Ferrajo, early the next morning, where we arrived the same evening, the distance being but twelve leagues. On the 24th, we sailed again for Leghorn; the next day, the wind being contrary, and blowing a very fresh breeze we deemed it not safe to continue at sea in an open boat, and therefore run into St. Vincen|chi, a small town in Tuscany. On the 26th, the wind being in our favour, we sailed at 4 A. M. and arrived at Leghorn at 6 o'clock, in the afternoon. My whole time was now em|ployed, in seeking for a passage to my native country, and having nothing to depend on for my subsistence, but the few cloaths, which the English had been pleased to let me keep, as they did not think them worth taking from me; the greatest part of which I was obliged to sell to purchase me something to eat. My case was now become truly distressing, and how long it would remain so, I knew not, for as the French had possession of the place, all bu|siness was entirely stagnated, except privateer|ing, and where to go, to better myself I was at a loss, as I was informed every day by the pack|ets which arrived, that no American vessels, were in any of the ports of Italy.
While waiting for a passage I will endeavor to give the Reader a short description of Leg|horn. This city is the ancient Portus Libur|nus, belonging to the Grand Duke of Tuscany is not remarkably large, but is regularly built, Page 156 and is in the modern taste. It is well fortified. It contains about 40,000 inhabitants 20,000 of whom are Jews. The most of the trade passes through their hands. It is a free port, which makes the trade here very considerable, con|sequently a great resort for Merchants of all nations. It has a secure harbor but is apt to be choaked up, so that the Grand Duke's slaves are employed in clearing it. The Marshes about the place are filled with the sand which they take out of the harbor, by which means the city is render|ed more healthful than usual. Foreigners pay only a piastres, or scuds, for a bale of goods of what bulk or quality soever it be, yet the quantity of Merchandize imported is so large, that this small duty is no small revenue to the Duke. But the inland duties are very high, nothing passing in or out of Leghorn by land, but the inhabitants pay large taxes. For the convenience of navigation, there is a light|house lanthorn, with 30 lamps, erected on a rock without the harbor. And on the shore a lazaretto, where suspected persons, or goods, must perform quarantine. Here all nations, and even the Mahometans, have free access, and may settle. The Jews live in a particular part of the city, have a handsome synagogue, and though subject to very heavy imposts, are in a thriving condition.
I remained in this situation until the 1st of April, when I had information of a Danish brig, (then laying in the harbour) being bound to America, I immediately went on board, and Page 157 asked the Captain where he was bound, he told me to Boston, I asked him if he would give me a passage for my work, he said he had men enough, and could not give any one a passage; but if I would pay him an hundred dollars he would carry me, to this proposal I readily ob|jected, as I was not the owner of that number of pence; at last he told me if I would do a sea|man's duty, on the passage, and give him an obligation to pay him forty dollars on our ar|rival, he would take me on board. I told him I would give him an answer at twelve o'clock. I then went on shore, and as I was walking up the mole, I met a gentleman who asked me what countryman I was? I told him I was an American. He then asked me several ques|tions, and enquired if I belonged to any vessel in the harbour, and after having received my answers, he told me he had chartered a Ra|gusean polacre, and intended to send her to Philadelphia, and that if I would go in her, I should have a passage, which I readily accep|ted, and returned him my sincere thanks;—he then told me I might embark the next day, which I accordingly did.
At twelve o'clock, I went according to my promise, on board the Dane, and informed him that I had got a passage to America on board the polacre, at which he appeared to be much dissatisfied, and offered me a passage for my work, but I told him I had engaged to go in the other vessel, and intended to fulfill my Page 158 promise, we then parted, and I left him much displeased, at my not accepting his last offer. At the same time that he told me he had men enough, he wanted one man to make up his ship's company, and was obliged to hire one next day; but knowing my situation, and thinking I should be glad to work and pay both, for my passage, he endeavoured to take this advantage.
On the 2d of April I embarked in the quality of a passenger, on board the Madona del rosario esan vineenzo feraro of Ragusa, which was the polacre before mentioned, bound to Phila|delphia. We sailed on the 4th, and on the 11th, was taken by a Spanish privateer and carried into Barcelona, was cleared on the 12th and sailed again, and on the 20th was captured by a French privateer, and carried in|to Almeria, treated politely and cleared on the 22d, and sailed. On the 29th, the wind hav|ing been contrary for several days, we run in|to Malaga, where we waited for a fair wind until the 21st of May. We then sailed, and on the 22d was boarded by his Britannic Ma|jesty's ship Petterel, treated very well and per|mitted to proceed on our voyage.
On the 23d, at 6, A. M. was boarded by two Spanish privateers, (Gibraltar then bearing W. N. W. about three leagues distant) and carri|ed into Ceuta, a small port on the coast of Bar|bary, at present occupied by the Spaniards, and having struck one of the privateersmen with a sword, and wounded him on the arm, was Page 159 put into a dungeon, ironed hands and feet, where I was kept about an hour and an half, and then let out. The vessel was cleared the same evening, and we sailed for Philadelphia.
On the 28th, being in lat. 31. 54. N. and long. 17. 25. W. was boarded by a Spanish privateer, of 14 guns, and robbed of a quanti|ty of provisions, and the greatest part of our cloathes, and then permitted to proceed. On the 1st of July was boarded by his Britanic Majesty's ship Woolwich, mounting fifty guns. This ship had taken twenty five sail of Ameri|can vessels under her convoy, from the Islands of Grenada, and Antigua, and had left them the day before she fell in with us. After hav|ing examined our papers, they permitted us to proceed on our voyage. Being very short of provisions, we endeavoured to get some from on board the Woolwich, but could not be supplied, she being as short as ourselves.—On the 24th, latt. 38. 20. N. and long. 74. 10. W. spoke the brig Jefferson, from St. Croix bound to Philadelphia, from whom we got a supply of provisions, having been about forty days upon less than one biscuit per day, with nothing else except oil, and wine.
On the 25th, at 4 A. M. saw Cape May bear|ing W. b. N. about 6 leagues distant. At 11 took on board a pilot, and stood in for the land, wind N. W. on the 28th arrived at Phi|ladelphia, where I had the happiness of meet|ing several persons, who had been companions in my misery at Algiers, I also met with Moses Page 160 Brown, whom I left at Leghorn. I remained here (being indisposed) until the 11th of Au|gust. I then sailed in the quality of a passen|ger on board the schooner Jay, belonging to Edgartown (on the Island of Martha's Vine|yard) commanded by David Smith, bound to Boston, where we arrived on the 17th. On the 23d I took passage for Newburyport, and arrived the same evening, where I had the inexpressible happiness of being restored to my friends, and native place, after an absence of four years and one month, and after having endured the severest of hardships. Thus out of nine persons who left Baltimore on board the Brig Polly, sour only returned, as follows: Michael Smith, Benjamin Edwards, Moses Brown, and myself, the rest all died with the plague.