Papers of John Adams, volume 17

II. The American Commissioners’ Heads of Enquiry for Thomas Barclay in Negotiations with Morocco, 12 September 1785 Adams, John American Commissioners
II. The American Commissioners’ Heads of Enquiry for Thomas Barclay in Negotiations with Morocco
[ 12 September 1785 ]1

Heads of enquiry for Mr Barclay as to Morocco,2 Algiers, Tunis &c

1 Commerce. What are the articles of their export & import?3 what articles of American produce might find a market in Morocco, Algiers, Tunis, Tripoli &c. and at what prices? whether rice, flour, tobacco, furs, ready built ships, fish, oil, tar, turpintine, ship timber &c. and whether any of these articles would hereafter be acceptable as presents? what duties are levied by them on exports & imports— do all nations pay the same, or what nations are favoured & how far? are they their own carriers, or who carries for them? do they trade themselves to other countries or are they merely passive?4 what manufactures or productions of these countries would be convenient in America, & at what prices?

2 Ports. What are their principal ports, what depth of water into them, what works of defence protect these ports?

3 Naval force. How many armed vessels have they, of what kind & force? what is the constitution of their naval force, what resources for encreasing their navy, what number of seamen, their cruizing grounds, and season of cruizing?

4. Prisoners. What is their condition & treatment? at what price are they ordinarily redeemed & how? do they pay respect to the treaties they make? Land forces, their numbers, constitution, respectability? Revenues, their amount?5

56 Language. What language is spoken, & what European language is most understood?

6 Government. What is their connection with the Ottoman Porte, is there any dependence or subordination to it acknowledged, and what degree of power or influence has it?

7 Religion. By what principle of their religion is it that they consider all Christian Powers as their enemies, until they become friends by Treaties?

8. Captures. What captures have been made of ships or citizens 438of the United States, & any other nation, what nations are they now at war with?7

FC in David Humphreys’ hand (PCC, No. 87, I, f. 143–144). Dft in Thomas Jefferson’s hand, with additions by JA (Adams Papers); filmed at 4 Sept. with Jefferson’s letter of that date. LbC (Adams Papers); APM Reel 111.


This date is derived from the LbC, which is dated “Grosvenor Square London Septr 12. 1785.” As he did with Barclay’s first letter of credence (No. 1, above), JA likely prepared a signed and dated fair copy, but as with the letter of credence, the fair copy has not been found, because it was necessary to make revisions—notably the deletion of references to Algiers, Tunis, and Tripoli, since Barclay was going only to Morocco. It is clear, however, that David Humphreys made his FC from the copy sent by JA, probably enclosed with JA’s 15 Sept. letter to Thomas Jefferson, below. For the final version of the “Heads of enquiry,” that was sent to John Lamb and signed by JA on 1 Oct. and by Jefferson on 11 Oct., see Jefferson, Papers , 8:621–622. It presumably is identical to that given Barclay, except for its references to Algiers rather than Morocco, but see also note 7.


In the Dft, the remainder of the title is in JA’s hand.


In the Dft, the passage from this point to “acceptable as presents?” is in JA’s hand.


In the Dft, the remainder of this paragraph is in JA’s hand.


In the Dft, Jefferson followed this query with another that JA omitted: “Coins. what coins pass there & what rates?”


In the Dft, this and the remaining three entries are in JA’s hand.


Immediately below the final entry, Humphreys wrote, “NB Similar heads of Enquiry were given to Mr Lamb.”