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February 7, 2013

America and Algiers

Cooperstown Crier

---- — From the Otsego Herald

for Saturday, Feb. 6, 1813

Compiled, with comments




General Tecumseh. We find in the history of Gen. Hull’s expedition the following “brief description” of the celebrated Anglo, savage, brigadier general Tecumseh, late in the British service.

“Tecumseh, is about 45 years of age, of the Shananoe [Shawnee] tribe, six feet high, well proportioned for his height, of erect and lofty deportment, penetrating eye, rather stern visage, artful, insidious, in preparing enterprizes, and bold in their execution.

“His eloquence is nervous, concise and impressive. In his youth, and before the treaty of Greenville, he was one of the boldest warriors who infested the Ohio river — seizing boats — killing emigrants — lading the horses he took with the most valuable plunder — and retiring to the Wabash, where, careless of wealth himself, he soon lavished the treasures of his rapine upon his followers, which, when exhausted he replenished by fresh depredations.

“Among the Indians, Tecumseh is esteemed the boldest warrior of the west.”

COMMENT: Tecumseh (1768-1813) was by far the most important American Indian during the War of 1812. In 1808 he had settled Prophetstown in the Indiana territory. His purpose, throughout his life, was to establish a free Indian nation between the United States and British Canada. In 1795 that purpose was largely defeated by the Battle of Fallen Timbers, after which a coalition of Indians signed the Treaty of Greenville with the United States, giving up most of the Ohio region forever (for goods worth about $20,000). Tecumseh sided with the British during the War of 1812, and sought to enlist the support of all Indian tribes, in hopes of reversing at least some of these territorial losses. He was, however, killed at the Battle of the Thames in 1813 in what is now Ontario, and in 1814 Indian tribes signed a second Treaty of Greenville with Ge. William Henry Harrison and Michigan territorial governor Lewis Cass confirming the Indians’ loss of territory.


America and Algiers

The political situation of the United States and Algiers … may be thus summarily stated ….

The seventeen annuities due from the United States to the Dey and Regency of Algiers, Sept. 5, 1812, at 21,600 dollars per year, amounted to 367,200 dollars of which sum the United States had paid (July 22, 1812) 351,363 dollars, leaving a balance due…of 15,837 dollars; but which the Dey insisted was 27,000 dollars, he computing the 17 years according to the Mahometan calendar, which gives 354 days to a year.

The Alleghany, sent out by the United States with a cargo of naval stores, to discharge the arrearages due in fulfillment of treaty stipulations, arrived at Algiers on the 16th July 1812; – and the Dey and officers of the Regency expressed entire satisfaction; – but when the unloading of the cargo commenced, the Dey demanded a list of the articles, and became outrageous to find [less gunpowder and fewer cables than he had expected.]

Mr. Lear (American Consul) was accordingly ordered to depart the 23d July, with all the Americans in Algiers, on board the Alleghany…and to pay immediately into the treasury 27,000 Spanish dollars, and in case of refusal, the ship to be confiscated, all the Americans in Algiers to be kept as slaves, and war instantly declared against the United States.

Mr. Lear, therefore, was compelled to raise the money…and having paid it in, was allowed to depart, with the ship and cargo, and the Americans….

Mr. Lear writes that “the character of the present Dey, Hadge [Haji] Alli Bashaw, is that of a severe, obstinate and cruel man” — and adds, “if our small naval fleet can operate freely in this sea, Algiers will be humbled in the dust.”…. [List of the Algierian war vessels].

COMMENT: The treaty with Algiers had been signed in 1795. Tobias Lear was the American Consul-General in Algiers, and I quote from a brief biography:

“Tobias Lear (1762-1816), private secretary to George Washington and consular officer… graduated from Harvard in 1783, and in 1785 became the private secretary to George Washington during his retirement at Mount Vernon. Lear served as Washington’s aide for seven years and remained his close associate until Washington’s death in 1799. 

“In 1801, Lear was appointed consul to Saint Domingue [Haiti], where he witnessed the turbulent ascent of Toussaint L’Ouverture’s regime. In 1802, he left Hispaniola and, shortly after, was appointed consul general to Algiers. Lear succeeded in establishing peaceful relations with Morocco, Tunis, and Algeria, ending the 1st Barbary War (1801-1805), which, although favorable to the United States, required payment of ransom for Americans held prisoner. 

“Lear remained in Algeria until the outbreak of the War of 1812. The political controversy surrounding the Tripolitan treaty, however, ended his diplomatic career. James Madison appointed Lear as an accountant in the War Department, and in 1814, Lear successfully negotiated an exchange of prisoners with the British in New York.

“Lear married three times: first to Mary Long in 1790 (d. 1793), then to Frances Bassett Washington in 1795 (1767-1796), and finally to Frances Dandridge Henley in 1803. Lear committed suicide in 1816.”

How to be Happy

One of the best means of acquiring that happy state of mind, called contentment; — is to take a fair retrospect of our past lives. Can we recollect periods, when we formed a certain system, and imagined certain objects would make us perfectly happy?

Have we not obtained those very objects; and found ourselves as far from the ever receding horizon of expected bliss, as when we were without them? The truest philosophy, then, is to give every blessing we enjoy its fullest estimate; and always to consider contingent advantages, as magnified by their distance. – Baltimore Patriot