The Barbary Treaties 1786-1816
Tripoli 1805 : The Arabic Text

The Arabic of this treaty was probably in the legal sense an original text; but in fact it was a translation of the previously written English. The texts have been examined by Dr. C. Snouck Hurgronje, of Leiden, who, after remarking generally that the Arabic is "in the usual bad and ungrammatical style," makes the following detailed comments:

Article 1. This article is exactly rendered in the Arabic, the only addition being the superscription, "Praise be to Him to whom praise is due."

Article 2. "Dollar" is rendered by "royal duro."

Article 3. The Arabic is in many parts rather inept; sometimes it would be almost unintelligible without the English original.

Article 5. The Arabic has "with their effects," not "or their effects."

Article 6. The words "insult or molest " in the English are rendered by words meaning "beat or do violence"; the word meaning "do violence" is also used to translate "detention" in the next to the last sentence.

It deserves mention that in this article the word ojak (odgiak) has been used by the Arabic translator to render " Regency "; so evidently the Tripolitans took the word in the sense of "province."

Article 7. The Arabic words used for "condemned" (ta'ibah) and "condemnation" (Taylor) are not known in common Arabic in this sense.

Article 8. The word rendering the English "disaster" is unknown in common Arabic.

Article 9. "To her and her crew" is in the Arabic "to her captain and her crew." The last eight words are, in the Arabic, "until they shall be able to return to their country."

Article 11. The three words used to translate "privileges, immunities, and jurisdictions" all mean something like "honor" or "favor," but the idea of jurisdiction is not expressed.

Article 13. Instead of "the Bashaw" the Arabic has "the exalted Lord the Pasha," and instead of "quantity or number" it has only "number."

Article 15. After the words "no appeal shall be made to arms" the Arabic inserts "immediately."

Article 16. Instead of the words, "The prisoners captured by either party shall not be made slaves," the Arabic has, "The men captured by either party shall not be made prisoners of war"; but the intention seems to have been to express the same idea. For "deficiency" and " wanting " the Arabic has " excess " and " exceeding " (the member of the other party), which gives no different meaning. For "mate" there is the Arabicized European word "pilot."

Article 17. Here and elsewhere the Arabic renders " shall be obliged " by a word meaning rather "shall be entitled to." In this article again "Regency" is rendered by ojak (odgiak).

Article 18. The words "having a consul or agent in Tripoli" and "or agents," have been left untranslated in the Arabic.

Article 19. This article, although not so badly drawn up as the corresponding article (21) in the treaty with Morocco of 1786 (Document 14), is still ambiguous. The beginning of the Arabic reads, "If any American citizen should kill or wound a Tripolitan, or the contrary, then the law [the Arabic word used here is generally used to denote the sacred law of Islam] of that [which?] country shall be applied to them, and justice shall be equal, and the consul shall be present, and if a delinquent shall escape, the consul shall not in any way be detained for that reason."

Article 20. Here again ojak (odgiak) is used to render "Regency."

The next page of Arabic text (nine lines), corresponds to the final clauses on the part of the United States; it is translated awkwardly, although not inaccurately. There are slight differences: " the Americans" instead of "the United States of America"; omission of "Regency" before "Algiers"; "signature" and "seal" are both translated by different Arabic words meaning "seal"; the closing words of the first paragraph read, "the exalted Lord the Pasha, the Lord the Bey, and the people of Tripoli of the West "; " Now know ye " is rendered "Be it testified"; instead of "conclude" the Arabic has "conclude and confirm by my free will"; instead of "by and with the advice and consent of the Senate of the said United States," the Arabic has "in the presence of the administrators [rulers] and after consultation of the Divan of the Americans"; the last words read, "corresponding with the sixth of the noblest of the two Rabias (which is indeed Rabia I) of the year twelve hundred and twenty of the era of Islam."

The page of Arabic text following does not call for any important remark; it corresponds to the final clauses on the part of Tripoli but has no seals or signatures. It bears the superscription, "Praise be to Him to whom praise is due"; here again is "the Americans" instead of " the United States of America "; " Regency " before "Algiers" is omitted; at the end, for "our Regency," the Arabic is "daulah," which usually means "dynasty" or "government"; the words "negotiating and" are omitted in the Arabic. The wording of the date is here the same as on the preceding page of the Arabic.

The last page, the receipt, contains four lines of Arabic text with the superscription, "Praise be to Him to whom praise is due"; after "mentioned" the Arabic has "in the second article of the treaty of peace and friendship concluded between us and the Americans "; the words, "as ransom for two hundred Americans," are not translated; in reciting the date of the treaty the Arabic has simply "the first Rabia," whereas the final date of the document has again " the noblest of the two Rabias."

Treaties and Other International Acts of the United States of America.
Edited by Hunter Miller
Volume 2
Documents 1-40 : 1776-1818
Washington : Government Printing Office, 1931.
127 Wall Street, New Haven, CT 06511.