The Barbary Treaties 1786-1816
Algeria 1816 : Hunter Miller's Notes

It is believed that the official text of this treaty is in the English language only.

This treaty was a renewal, with a modification, of the treaty with Algiers of 1815 (Document 34, the notes to which should be consulted). The provisions of that treaty were in general copied almost literally into this, including even errors of grammar; Articles 3 and 4 of this treaty are merely statements that the articles previously so numbered had been executed. The order of Articles 13 and 14 in this treaty is the same as that in the missing authenticated copy of the treaty of 1815, but it is the reverse of the order in the text of that treaty which is printed as Document 34. The desired modification of the former agreement was made by means of the additional article.

The Government of the United States considered that the earlier treaty was in English; this treaty, like the prior one, was dictated to Algiers; in August, 1816, the Algerine naval forces had been almost wholly destroyed by a British fleet, and when Commodore Chauncey and William Shaler, Consul General, reached Algiers in December 7, 1816, the Dey of Algiers was in no position to refuse to sign any treaty presented to him. The frankly stated alternative was war.

A full account of the negotiations is in the "Journal of the Mission to Algiers " (D. S., 9 Consular Despatches, Algiers) written by Charles O. Handy, Secretary to the Mission.

The language question was then one of much difficulty. Writing some years later, Shaler says (Sketches of Algiers, 13):

The Turkish is the language of the government, though the Arabic is the predominant tongue; French is in general use in the society of the foreign agents residing here, and the Lingua Franca, which is a barbarous compound of Spanish, French, Italian, and Arabic, is the ordinary medium of communication between foreigners and natives.

And in a note to the Dey of Algiers, the text of which is set forth in the above-mentioned journal, the American Commissioners wrote:

In order to facilitate to the Government of Algiers the understanding of this note, the under-signed herewith transmit to H. H. an informal translation of it into the Arabic language-and they expect that H. H. will cause a reply to be made to this Communication in writing, in either the English, French, Spanish or Italian languages, or by a Foreign Consul authorized by him to vouch for the same.

The original treaty in the Department of State file is in the form of a pamphlet of forty-eight pages; the English text as here printed is written on twenty-two of the left pages, with the signatures and seals of Shaler and Chauncey at the end. On each of various opposite right pages (sixteen in all) appear some lines of Turkish script; on the last of those pages is the seal of the Dey of Algiers, and on the first of them the same seal and the signature as well; and from the position of the Turkish script on the various pages of the original document, it is obvious and beyond question that the English was first written and the Turkish later added. As to this, the comment in the journal above mentioned is as follows:

The Translation of the Treaty was effected through the agency of Mr. Bensammon a Jew, who was employed in this affair by the Dey & under the personal inspection of Mr. Shaler. It may be considered as having more of the character of Marginal notes than of a literal and exact Copy of the original articles in English. This, from the necessity of despatch to frustrate the earnest wish & endeavour of the Dey to obtain delay, we were compelled to submit to. No intention was manifested to pervert the meaning of any part of it; and MY Shaler has the fullest conviction, from the known integrity and intelligence of Mr Bensammon that the substance of each article is correctly stated.

In view of the insistence of the Government of the United States regarding the language of the earlier treaty, the fact that this treaty was a renewal thereof, and the circumstances of the signature, there can hardly be any doubt that the official text of this treaty is the English only. However, as the Turkish is on the pages of the original document, it is here reproduced, following the English text and in the same order, which is the order of the original.

There are some notable differences between the Turkish translation or summary and the English text, e. g., Article 12. Accordingly, an English translation of the Turkish, made in 1930, is printed above, following the reproduction of the Turkish.

The dates given for the signatures to the treaty are those recited in its text-December 22, 1816, for the Dey of Algiers, and the next day for the American Commissioners; the Mohammedan date given in the treaty for its execution on the part of Algiers is 3 Safar, A. H. 1232, the equivalent of which, according to the usual calculation, is December 23, 1816; but strictly speaking, December 22 is also correct, as the Mohammedan day begins at sunset. lout the following extract from the above-mentioned journal of the mission for December 25 leaves no doubt that the treaty was executed by the Dey of Algiers on that day:

Repaired with Mr. Shaler to the Palace. The Dey sent for Mr. Bensammon the interpreter and on his arrival observed that he was now ready to sign the Treaty. Mr. S. requested that his Seal might be put both to the Preamble & concluding Article. The Dey answd that it had been usual for him to affix his Seal only to the Concluding part-but to oblige ME S. he would comply with his request. After the Treaty was executed, he observed, that he hoped Mr. Shaler was Perfectly satisfied, as he had attained his wishes & brought the negotiation to a close on his own terms.

It is probable that Shaler put his signature to the document on Monday, December 23, 1816, the textual date of its execution by the American Commissioners; but Commodore Chauncey was not then in Algiers and was not even informed of the signature of the treaty until December 29 at Port Mahon (Minorca); so his signature must have been added at some later date.


The delay of nearly five years in the submission of this treaty to the Senate was due to an oversight, explained by President Monroe in his message (Executive Journal, III, 260).

Ratification by the United States is declared in the proclamation; the date is not quite certain, but it may be assumed to be February 11, 1822, the date of the proclamation.

There is no reason to suppose that notice of the belated ratification was given to the Dey of Algiers; as to this, the Government had been advised in 1816 (letter of Handy to Commodore Chauncey December 30, 1816, part of the journal of Handy above mentioned).

The Treaties which Algiers has heretofore had with the Maratime Powers of Europe, appear more in the light of capitulations made with their respective Consuls, acting with plenary Powers, than with their Governments of whose sentiments they are only the authorized organs. Consequently the rejection, or ratification, of such Treaties, is never with the Regency a Subject of interest, or importance. From the long and unvaried Custom, arbitrarily adopted, and resolutely pursued, by this Barbary State, they never have, & probably never will recognize, the approbation of a Government, as essential to the completion and execution of a Treaty. Our Treaty in June 1815 they refused to receive after it had been approved of by the President & Senate, alledging as a reason therefor, that the Algerine Regency never had acknowledged the necessity of such a measure & would never be governed by it in any manner whatever. For these reasons Mr. Shaler is of opinion that it will be unnecessary to return to him the Treaty after it has received the Sanction of the President & Senate. He has with him an executed Copy of it, with the promise of the Dey that in the event of accident to the one to be transmitted to our Government, he will sign a third.


The original proclamation is in the file; it includes within its two pages the original treaty; in form it is similar to the proclamation mentioned in the notes to Document 35. The proclamation was printed in the press of the period (e.g., the Daily National Intelligencer, Washington, February 14, 1822); a facsimile of the newspaper print is now in the treaty file.


There was at least one other original of the treaty executed, which was in the hands of Shaler, as stated in the letter of Handy of December 30, 1816, quoted above, and which was retained in the files of the consulate at Algiers. The journal of William Buell, who was Agent at Algiers in the absence of Shaler, records under date of March 16, 1818, that "the treaty was this day sent for and ratified by the new Sovereign" (D. S., 10 Consular Despatches, Algiers). The predecessor of that Dey had died on March 1, 1818 (Shaler to the Secretary of State, April 15, 1818, Ibid.), and had himself, during his brief term of power, which began on September 8, 1817, also confirmed or ratified the treaty (Buell to Shaler, September 20 and November 2, 1817, D. S., 9 Consular Despatches, Algiers).

In June, 1929, there was sold at auction in London an original of this treaty; perhaps that document, which is to be placed in the archives of the Department of State, is the one mentioned in the preceding paragraph and perhaps it is still another. On one of the pages of that original is written the ratification or com1rmation recorded, as mentioned above, in the journal of William Buell under date of March 16, 1818. The page in question has been examined by Dr. J. H. Kramers, of Leiden, who observes that it is written in another hand than the articles of the treaty itself and that its Turkish style and language are much better and nearly correct. The ratification is that of Husein Pasha, who succeeded on the death of his predecessor All on March 1, 1818. The page has the tughra or "name sign" of Husein and his seal, which reads, "The confident in the Compassionate [God], His [God's] servant, Husein, son of Hassan, ]233." The writing is dated 23 Rabia II, A. I. 1233, or March 2, 1818, and is thus translated by Doctor Kramers:

The motive of the writing and the reason for the drawing up of the present document are as follows: On the 23d day of the month Rebi el-Akhir of this year 1233 All Pasha has moved to the abode of eternity and in his place His Excellency the illustrious and august Husein Pasha-may God make easy for him what he wishes-has taken the regency under auspicious signs, our peace and good understanding with the ruler and commander of the American people has remained firm and our friendship has remained stable according to the previously established treaty-articles. This has been stated and put down in the present document.
Written in the last days of the month of Rebi el-Akhir, on the 23d day, of the year 1233.

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.