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sovereign authority immediately on their election; their solemn installation takes place only when they receive the firman of the Grand Seignior recognising their election, with the Kaftan and sabre of state, which are usually sent as soon as may be by a Capidgi Bashi or state messenger. In times of prosperity Algiers sends a present to the Grand Seignior once in three years, which is usually transported there with their ambassador by a foreign ship of war; and such is still the credit of the Regency, that it is always the government most favored here, which obtains this mission as a mark of honorable preference. This present is always magnificent, often amounting in value to half a million of dollars; and it appears to be the only dependence which they recognise upon the Ottoman government, whose flag even, in the intoxication of their fancied power, they have not always respected. In return for these presents the Porte usually sends them a vessel of war, with military and naval stores, &c. and gives them permission to recruit in its dominions.
• Though the election of the Dey of Algiers is by the institutions of the Regency vested in the Divan, it is usually the result of the intrigues of a predominant faction amongst the Janissaries, and is generally a sanguinary tragedy. A Dey is murdered to make room for some more fortunate adventurer ; his immediate friends and adherents perish, or are plundered and exiled, and the public business or tranquillity is not interrupted beyond twentyfour hours. These revolutions succeed each other with a rapidity, which can hardly be credited by those who are unacquainted with the barbarous character and manners of the Turks. A Dey of Algiers, while alive, is the most despotic and implicitly obeyed monarch on earth ; but his reign is always precarious, and it is by mere accident if he dies a natural death. Any Turk who has been regularly enrolled in the corps of Janissaries is eligible to the eminent post of Dey, except the natives of Bosnia and of Crete; no other qualifications are required, and the caprice of fortune has sometimes raised the most obscure and ignoble characters to the throne. Tradition points out the graves of seven adventurers who were raised to the throne and perished on the same day; as a mark of contempt they were interred in the public highway. Neither can a person elected refuse or resign the honor of ruling in Algiers; he must either reign or perish.' pp. 16-19.
The kingdom of Algiers is divided into three provinces, Oran on the west, Titterie in the middle, and Constantine on the east. Each of these provinces is governed by a Bey appointed by the Dey. These subordinate officers rule with the same despotic sway as their sovereign. They are required to collect the taxes from the people, and once in three years to appear in person at the seat of government, when they are expected to give enormous presents to all the persons high in power, to secure their own continuance in office. I am informed on respectable authority,' says the author that each visit of the Beys of Oran and Constantine costs to those governors not less than three hundred thousand dollars. On these occasions it is necessary to bribe all the officers of the Regency, according to the different degrees of their credit and influence. No part, however, of these extraordinary contributions goes into the public treasury.' Here we have the secret of the extreme oppression, practised by these Beys on the people. The continuance of their office depends on their success in plundering those under them, and on this principle is the administration of government conducted through all its departments, from the highest to the lowest. Power is employed to sustain itself, by extorting from the weak the means of bribing the more powerful, and this in addition to the amount necessary to gratify the rapacity of the subordinate officers themselves.
The government of Algiers exhibits a very extraordinary peculiarity, as to the mode in which it is perpetuated. It is a rule seldom violated, that all the principal officers shall be taken from among the foreigners, who have been incorporated into the body of Janissaries. The desire of establishing a hereditary succession, or of keeping up a family influence, which has been so strong in other ages and countries, and which may perhaps be considered a trait deeply seated in human nature, seems never to have shown itself here. Children derive no consequence from the station their fathers have held; and the whole mass of the natives of the country, that is, nearly a million of people, have submitted for three centuries to be ruled and scourged by a handful of foreigners, consisting of Turks and renegadoes collected commonly from the most worthless population in the Levant, who, as Mr Shaler says, ' are generally the sweepings of prisons, and the refuse of society in those barbarous countries.' The number of these foreigners now embodied in Algiers is about four thousand.
* Agents are maintained by the Regency in Constantinople and Smyrna to engage recruits and charter vessels for their transportation hither. On their arrival they become ipso facto soldiers, are denominated Janissaries, and are incorporated into the different barracks of the city, to which they are supposed to belong during life, whatever may be their subsequent fortunes. In these quarters, if not called by some happy accident into the administration, they rise by seniority to the highest grade of pay, and become members of the pretended Divan ; where they must be very inept indeed, if they do not obtain some profitable employment.
• The pay of the Janissaries at its commencement, on their arrival as recruits from the Levant, hardly exceeds half a dollar per month, but by length of service is gradually increased to about eight dollars, which is the maximum. Of late years, however, it has been a common practice of the Deys of Algiers to augment the pay of the Janissaries, in order to enhance their popularity. A corps thus constituted, is of course always ripe for a revolution.
Their rations consist of about two pounds of indifferent bread daily, and all who are unmarried are lodged in very spacious and commodious barracks; they find their own clothing, and their own arms and ammunition, which latter are furnished to them by the government at moderate prices. A Janissary, when equipped for battle, has one or more pairs of large pistols in his belt, with his scimitar or yatagan, a dagger in his bosom, and a long musket on his shoulder ; all which are as highly ornamented as his circumstances will permit. When, costume included, he is not unfairly represented by the knave of diamonds in a pack of cards.' pp. 27, 28.
From this description of persons the Deys are chosen, and all the great officers of state appointed.
The military establishment is composed of natives, as well as Turks, and amounts to about fifteen thousand men. They are stationed in different parts of the country, and employed chiefly in collecting the revenue. These are distinct from the Janissaries, and very loosely organized. The naval force consists of three frigates, two corvettes, two armed brigs, five schooners, one polaccre, and one xebec ; in all, fourteen vessels.
To illustrate the mutation of human affairs in Algiers, arising out of the peculiar nature of the government, Mr Shaler relates the following anecdote.
• During the summer of my arrival here, an old Turk called on me, announcing himself as a Rais, or Captain in the navy; and informed me that he had made a voyage from this place to Constantinople, with Commodore Bainbridge, as attached to the Algerine legation carried there by that officer in former times, He expressed the most friendly regard for the Commodore, and to inquire after his health and welfare appeared to be the principal object of his visit ; but on taking leave, he informed me that he had no employment, and was very poor, and requested me to lend him a dollar, which I did, and assured him that whenever his necessities required it, he might apply to me with the certainty of finding such relief as I had it in my power to give him. I afterwards frequently met this old gentleman on public occasions, when he would modestly offer me a friendly pinch of snuff at a respectful distance from the official characters I was visiting. A few years after, this old man was raised to the eminent post of Hasnagee, or prime minister, which he now holds, at the age of about ninety years, and is in the receipt of at least fifty thousand dollars per annum.' pp. 31, 32.
The depredations of the Algerines on the commerce of the United States began early. According to their custom of being at war with all Christian nations, who did not purchase a peace, they declared war against us immediately after the recognition of our independence by the European powers. In July, 1785, two American merchant vessels, one commanded by Captain Stevens, and the other by Captain O'Brien, were seized by the corsairs, and taken to Algiers, where the officers and men, amounting in the whole to twentyone persons, were consigned to slavery. For the ten years following, our commerce was protected against these pirates by the Portuguese, who were at war with them, and who kept a maritime force in the Straits of Gibraltar, sufficient to prevent the Algerine cruisers from passing into the Atlantic ocean.
Meantime various expedients were resorted to, by the government of the United States, to redeem their unfortunate countrymen from slavery. These all proved unsuccessful, chiefly on account of the exorbitant demands of the pirates. It was thought not more a dictate of policy, than of benevolence, to refrain from gratifying these demands, as a compliance to this effect would operate as an additional incitement to future aggressions. The amount required for the ransom of twentyone persons was fiftynine thousand four hundred dollars. An effort was made to negotiate for the redemption of the prisoners, through the society of Mathurins in Paris, instituted for the purpose of redeeming Christian captives from infidels, but the attempt was ineffectual. Eight years were thus consumed, without coming to any terms with Algiers, or rescuing these American citizens from bondage.
Affairs assumed a new aspect in 1793, when a truce between Portugal and Algiers was stipulated through the mediation of the
British government. This opened a passage for the corsairs into the Atlantic, and in a few months they captured eleven American vessels, containing one hundred and nine officers and seamen, who were all reduced to slavery. From that time more earnest exertions were made to procure a peace with Algiers, and the sympathy of the country was universally awakened in behalf of the suffering captives. The business was entrusted to Colonel Humphreys, the minister from the United States to Portugal, who despatched Mr Joseph Donaldson to Algiers, as commissioner to negotiate a treaty of peace. A time, more unpromising to the interests of the United States for executing such a treaty, could hardly have occurred. The truce with Portugal, and peace with other powers, had left the Dey's corsairs almost without employment. M. Skjoldebrand, brother of the Swedish Consul in Algiers, who had been consulted in this matter, wrote to Colonel Humphreys as follows. "The Dey declared to me, that his interest does not permit him to accept your offers, even were you to lavish millions upon him. Because, said he, if I were to make peace with every body, what should I do with my corsairs? They would take off my head for the want of other prizes, not being able to live upon their miserable allowances.' Mr Donaldson succeeded, however, in forming a treaty, (September, 1795,) on terms as degrading to the American nation, as they were necessary in the exigencies of the case. The United States became bound to pay the Regency of Algiers upwards of seven hundred thousand dollars, as the price of peace and the ransom of the captives, and to render an annual tribute, payable in military and naval stores, the entire charges of which would amount to above seventy thousand dollars yearly.*
Owing to the difficulty of procuring funds, the conditions of the treaty were not fulfilled so soon as the Dey expected. He became impatient, expressed apprehensions that the delay was intentional, and threatened to renew the war and send out his cruisers. In this extremity, the American Commissioners, Joel Barlow and Mr Donaldson, agreed that their government should make the Dey a present of a frigate, if he would wait three months longer. This proposal was acceded to, and before the three months had expired, the requisite funds were received.
* By the Purveyor's Estimate returned to the Secretary of the Treasury in 1796, the cost of the two first years'annuities to the Dey and Regency of Algiers was $144,246.