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crew. All the energies of the country were at this time enlisted in war with Great Britain ; but, even amidst the anxieties of this gigantic contest, the voice of these captives was heard, awakening a corresponding sentiment throughout the land, until the government was prompted to seek their release. Through Mr. Noah, recently appointed consul at Tunis, it offered to purchase their freedom at three thousand dollars a head.* The answer of the Dey, repeated on several occasions, was, that “not for two millions of dollars would he sell his American slaves.” † The timely treaty of Ghent, in 1815, establishing peace with Great Britain, left us at liberty to deal with this enslaver of our countrymen. A naval force was promptly dispatched to the Mediterranean, under Commodore Bainbridge and Commodore Decatur. The rapidity of their movements and their striking success had the desired effect. In June, 1815, a treaty was extorted from the Dey of Algiers, by which, after abandoning all claim to tribute in any form, he delivered his American captives, ten in number, without any ransom; and stipula. ted, that hereafter no Americans should be made slaves or forced to hard labor, and still further, that “ any Christians whatever, captives in Algiers," making their escape and taking refuge on board an American ship of war, should be safe from all requisition or reclama
* Noah's Travels, p. 69. + Noah's Travels, p. 144 ; National Intelligencer of March 7,
# United States Statutes at Large, Vol. VIII. p. 224 ; Lyman's Diplomacy, Vol. II. p. 376.
It is related of Decatur, that he walked his deck with impatient earnestness, awaiting the promised sig. nature of the treaty. “ Is the treaty signed ?
he cried to the captain of the port and the Swedish consul, as they reached the Guerriere with a white flag of truce. “It is,” replied the Swede; and the treaty was placed in Decatur's hands. “ Are the prisoners in the boat ? " " They are.” “Every one of them ? " " Every one, Sir.” The captive Americans now came forward. to greet and bless their deliverer.* Surely this moment - when he looked upon his emancipated fellowcountrymen, and thought how much he had contributed to overthrow the relentless system of bondage under which they had groaned - must have been one of the sweetest in the life of that hardy son of the sea. But should I not say, even here, that there is now a citizen of Massachusetts, who, without army or navy, by a simple act of self-renunciation, has given freedom to a larger number of Christian American slaves than was done by the sword of Decatur ?
Thus, not by money, but by arms, was emancipation this time secured. The country was grateful for the result; though the poor freedmen, engulfed in the un. known wastes of ocean, on their glad passage home, were never able to mingle joys with their fellow-citi. zens. They were lost in the Epervier, of which no trace has ever appeared. Nor did the people feel the melancholy mockery in the conduct of the government, which, having weakly declared that it was not in any sense founded on the Christian religion,” now expressly
* Mackenzie's Life of Decatur, p. 268.
confined the protecting power of its flag to fugitive " Christians, captives in Algiers," leaving slaves of another faith to be snatched as between the horns of the altar, and returned to the continued horrors of their lot.
The success of the American arms was followed speedily by a more signal triumph of Great Britain, acting generously in behalf of all the Christian powers. Her expedition was debated, perhaps prompted, in the Congress of Vienna, where, after the overthrow of Napoleon, the brilliant representatives of the different states of Europe, in the presence of the monarchs of Austria, Prussia, and Russia, were assembled to consider the evils proper to be remedied by joint action, and to adjust the disordered balance of empire. Among many high concerns, here entertained, was the project of a crusade against the Barbary States, in order to accomplish the complete abolition of Christian slavery there practised. For this purpose, it was proposed to form" a holy league." This was earnestly enforced by a memoir from Sir Sidney Smith, the same who foiled Napoleon at Acre, and who at this time was president of an association called the “ Knights Liberators of the White Slaves in Africa," - in our day it might be called an Abolition Society, - thus adding to the doubtful laurels of war the true glory of striving for the freedom of his fellow-men.*
* Mémoire sur la Nécessité et les Moyens de faire cesser les Pirateries des Etats Barbaresques. Reçu, considéré, et adopté à Paris en Septembre, à Turin le 14 Octobre, 1814, à Vienne durant le Congrès. Par M. Sidney Smith. See Quarterly Review, Vol. XV. p. 140, where this is noticed. Schoell, Histoire des Traités de Paix, Tome XI. p. 402.
This project, though not adopted by the Congress, awakened a generous echo in the public mind. Vari. ous advocates appeared in its behalf; and what the Congress failed to undertake was now especially urged upon Great Britain, by the agents of Spain and Portugal, who insisted, that, because this nation had abolished the negro slave-trade, it was her duty to put an end to the slavery of the whites. *
A disgraceful impediment seemed at first to interfere. There was a common belief that the obstructions of the Barbary States, in the navigation of the Mediterra. nean, were advantageous to British commerce, by thwarting and strangling that of other countries; and that therefore Great Britain, ever anxious for commercial supremacy, would rather encourage them, than seek their overthrow, - the love of trade prevailing over the love of man. † This suggesstion of a sordid selfishness, which was willing to coin money out of the lives and liberties of fellow-christians, was soon answered.
At the beginning of the year 1816, Lord Exmouth, who, as Sir Edward Pellew, had already acquired distinction in the British navy, was dispatched with a squadron to Algiers. By his general orders, bearing date, Boyne, Port Mahon, March 21, 1816, he announced the object of his expedition as follows:
* Edinburgh Review, Vol. XXVI. p. 451; Osler's Life of Exmouth, p. 302 ; Mackenzie's Life of Decatur, p. 263.
+ Quarterly Review, Vol. XV. p. 145 ; Edinburgh Review, Vol. XXVI. p. 449, noticing " A Letter to a Member of Parliament, on the Slavery of the Christians at Algiers. By Walter Croker, Esq., of the Royal Navy. London, 1816.” Schoell, Thaités de Paix, Tom. XI. P. 402.
“ He has been instructed and directed by his Royal Highness, the Prince Regent, to proceed with the fleet to Algiers, and there make certain arrangements for diminishing, at least, the piratical excursions of the Barbary States, by which thousands of our fellow-creatures, innocently following their commercial pursuits, have been dragged into the most wretched and revolting state of slavery.
“ The commander-in-chief is confident that this outrageous system of piracy and slavery rouses in common the same spirit of indignation which he himself feels ; and should the government of Algiers refuse the reasonable demands he bears from the Prince Regent, he doubts not but the flag will be honorably and zealously supported by every officer and man under his command, in his endeavors to procure the acceptation of them by force ; and if force must be resorted to, we have the consolation of knowing that we fight in the sacred cause of humanity, and cannot fail of success.
The moderate object of his mission was readily obtained. “ Arrangements for diminishing the piratical excursions of the Barbary States” were established. Certain Ionian slaves, claimed as British subjects, were released, and peace was secured for Naples and Sardinia, -- the former paying a ransom of five hundred dollars, and the latter of three hundred dollars, a head, for their subjects liberated from bondage. This was at Algiers. Lord Exmouth next proceeded to Tunis and Tripoli, where, acting beyond his instructions, he obtained from both these piratical governments a promise
* Osler's Life of Exmouth, p. 297.