The Constitutional Principle: Separation of Church and State
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Treaty of Tripoli, 1796, 1806

The Treaty of 1796 proclaims America's Government is Secular

Researched and edited by Jim Allison


"This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding."

(Article VI, Section II, United States Constitution)


Monday, May 29, 1797

The following written message was received from the President of the United States, by Mr. Majcom, his Secretary:

Gentlemen of the Senate:

I lay before you, for your consideration and advice, a treaty of perpetual peace and friendship between the United States of America and the Bey and subjects of Tripoli, of Barbary, concluded at Tripoli, on the 4th day of November, 1796.

John Adams

United States, May 26th, 1797.

[May 26 is the date when Adams actually wrote the above message]

The message and treaty was read [out loud on the floor of the Senate]

ORDERED, That they lie for consideration.

Tuesday, May 30, 1797.

The Senate proceeded to consider the message of the President of the United States, of the 29th instant, and the treaty therewith communicated, between the United States the Bey and subjects of Tripoli, of Barbary.

ORDERED, That it be referred to Mr. Bloodworth, Mr. Goodhue, and Mr. Tazewell, to consider and report thereon to the Senile

ON MOTION,

ORDERED, That the treaty be printed for use of the Senate.

Wednesday, June 7, 1797.

Mr. Bloodworth, from the Committee to whom was referred the consideration of the treaty of peace and friendship, between the United States of America and the Bey and subjects of Tripoli, of Barary, made report, that it be adopted; and the report being amended, On the question to agree to the report as amended, It was determined in the affirmative, Yeas . . . . . . . . . . . 23.

The yeas and nays being required by one-fifth of the Senators present, Those who voted in the affirmative, are--Bingham, Bloodworth, Blount, Bradford, Brown, Cocke, Foster, Goodhue, Hillhouse, Howard, Langdon, Latimer, Laurance, Livermore, Martin, Paine , Read, Rutherfurd, Sedgwick, Stockton, Tattnall, Tichenor, and Tracy.

So it was

RESOLVED, (two-thirds of the Senators present concurring therein,) That the Senate do advise and consent to the ratification of the treaty of peace and friendship between the United States of America and the Bey and subjects of Tripoli, of Barbary.

ORDERED, That the Secretary lay this resolution before the President of the United States.

Source of Information:

The Journal of the Senate including the Journal of the Executive Proceedings of the Senate, John Adams Administration 1791-1801, Volume I: Fifth Congress, First Session; March-July, 1797, Martin P. Claussen, General Editor. Michael Glazier, Inc. Wilmington, Delaware 19801, (1977) pp 156-57, 160.


Saturday June 10, 1797

President John Adams signed the treaty into law on this date and issued the following proclamation:

Now be it known, That I John Adams, President of the United States of America, having seen and considered the said Treaty do, by and with the advice consent of the Senate, accept, ratify, and confirm the same, and every clause and article thereof. And to the End that the said Treaty may be observed and performed with good Faith on the part of the United States, I have ordered the premises to be made public; And I do hereby enjoin and require all persons bearing office civil or military within the United States, and all others citizens or inhabitants thereof, faithfully to observe and fulfil the said Treaty and every clause and article thereof.

The full treaty and the proclamation (above) was printed in at least two Philadelphia newspapers of the day and at least one New York Newspaper of the day.

The treaty as ratified is as follows:


Treaty of Peace and Friendship between the United States of America and the Bey and Subjects of Tripoli of Barbary.

ARTICLE 1.

There is a firm and perpetual Peace and friendship between the United States of America and the Bey and subjects of Tripoli of Barbary, made by the free consent of both parties, and guaranteed by the most potent Bey & regency of Algiers.

ARTICLE 2.

If any goods belonging to any nation with which either of the parties is at war shall be loaded on board of vessels belonging to the other party they shall pass free, and no attempt shall be made to take or detain them.

ARTICLE 3.

If any citizens, subjects or effects belonging to either party shall be found on board a prize vessel taken from an enemy by the other party, such citizens or subjects shall be set at liberty, and the effects restored to the owners.

ARTICLE 4.

Proper passports are to be given to all vessels of both parties, by which they are to be known. And, considering the distance between the two countries, eighteen months from the date of this treaty shall be allowed for procuring such passports. During this interval the other papers belonging to such vessels shall be sufficient for their protection.

ARTICLE 5.

A citizen or subject of either party having bought a prize vessel condemned by the other party or by any other nation, the certificate of condemnation and bill of sale shall be a sufficient passport for such vessel for one year; this being a reasonable time for her to procure a proper passport.

ARTICLE 6.

Vessels of either party putting into the ports of the other and having need of provisions or other supplies, they shall be furnished at the market price. And if any such vessel shall so put in from a disaster at sea and have occasion to repair, she shall be at liberty to land and reembark her cargo without paying any duties. But in no case shall she be compelled to land her cargo.

ARTICLE 7.

Should a vessel of either party be cast on the shore of the other, all proper assistance shall be given to her and her people; no pillage shall be allowed; the property shall remain at the disposition of the owners, and the crew protected and succoured till they can be sent to their country.

ARTICLE 8.

If a vessel of either party should be attacked by an enemy within gun-shot of the forts of the other she shall be defended as much as possible. If she be in port she shall not be seized or attacked when it is in the power of the other party to protect her. And when she proceeds to sea no enemy shall be allowed to pursue her from the same port within twenty four hours after her departure.

ARTICLE 9.

The commerce between the United States and Tripoli, the protection to be given to merchants, masters of vessels and seamen,- the reciprocal right of establishing consuls in each country, and the privileges, immunities and jurisdictions to be enjoyed by such consuls, are declared to be on the same footing with those of the most favoured nations respectively.

ARTICLE 10.

The money and presents demanded by the Bey of Tripoli as a full and satisfactory consideration on his part and on the part of his subjects for this treaty of perpetual peace and friendship are acknowledged to have been recieved by him previous to his signing the same, according to a reciept which is hereto annexed, except such part as is promised on the part of the United States to be delivered and paid by them on the arrival of their Consul in Tripoly, of which part a note is likewise hereto annexed. And no presence of any periodical tribute or farther payment is ever to be made by either party.

ARTICLE 11.

As the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion,-as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion or tranquility of Musselmen,-and as the said States never have entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mehomitan nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.

ARTICLE 12.

In case of any dispute arising from a notation of any of the articles of this treaty no appeal shall be made to arms, nor shall war be declared on any pretext whatever. But if the (consul residing at the place where the dispute shall happen shall not be able to settle the same, an amicable reference shall be made to the mutual friend of the parties, the Bey of Algiers, the parties hereby engaging to abide by his decision. And he by virtue of his signature to this treaty engages for himself and successors to declare the justice of the case according to the true interpretation of the treaty, and to use all the means in his power to enforce the observance of the same.

Signed and sealed at Tripoli of Barbary the 3d day of Jumad in the year of the Higera 1211-corresponding with the 4th day of Novr 1796 by

Jussuf Bashaw Mahomet, Bey
Soliman, Kaya
Mamet, Treasurer
Galil, Genl of the Troops
Amet, Minister of Marine
Mahomet, Coml of the city
Amet, Chamberlain
Mamet, Secretary
Ally, Chief of the Divan

Signed and sealed at Algiers the 4th day of Argib 1211-corresponding with the 3d day of January 1797 by

Hassan Bashaw Dey
and by the Agent plenipotentiary of the United States of America
[Seal] Joel Barlow

[The "Receipt"]

Praise be to God &c-

The present writing done by our hand and delivered to the American Captain OBrien makes known that he has delivered to us forty thousand Spanish dollars,-thirteen watches of gold, silver & pinsbach,-five rings, of which three of diamonds, one of saphire and one with a watch in it, One hundred & forty piques of cloth, and four caftans of brocade,-and these on account of the peace concluded with the Americans.

Given at Tripoli in Barbary the 20th day of Jumad 1211, corresponding with the 21st day of Novr 1796.

(Signed) Jussuf Bashaw, Bey whom God Exalt

The foregoing is a true copy of the reciept given by Jussuf Bashaw- Bey of Tripoli.

(Signed) Hassan Bashaw, Dey of Algiers.

The foregoing is a literal translation of the writing in Arabic on the opposite page.

Joel Barlow

Source of Information:

Treaties and other International Acts of the United States of America, Volume 2, Documents 1-40; 1776-1818, edited by Hunter Miller, United States Government Printing Office, Washington: 1931. pp 364-66)


The United States Ratification And Proclamation

The fourth document in the Department of State file, and the last to be noted, is at once the United States instrument of ratification and the proclamation, dated June 10, 1797.

In its combination of what are ordinarily two separate papers, that document is of unusual form. It is under the Great Seal and is signed by Adams and attested by Pickering as Secretary of State; but before the testimonium clause is this paragraph of ratification and proclamation:

Now be it known, That I John Adams, President of the United States of America, having seen and considered the said Treaty do, by and with the advice consent of the Senate, accept, ratify, and confirm the same, and every clause and article thereof. And to the End that the said Treaty may be observed and performed with good Faith on the part of the United States, I have ordered the premises to be made public; And I do hereby enjoin and require all persons bearing office civil or military within the United States, and all others citizens or inhabitants thereof, faithfully to observe and fulfil the said Treaty and every clause and article thereof.

The text embodied in the paper after the words, "which Treaty written in the Arabic Language, being translated into the Language of the United States, is in the words following to wit," is almost exactly the same as that in the Statutes at Large, which was perhaps copied from the instrument now described.Accordingly the provisions of the twelve articles appear in the document as written by Barlow in English in the original treaty book; so do the signatory names, although the copyist of them made a slip or two. The Barlow certification of January 4, 1797, which was doubtless contained in a now missing copy, is included, as is also the Humphreys approval or confirmation; but the receipt and the note, each of which Article 10 (according to the Barlow translation) in terms makes a part of the treaty, are not otherwise mentioned.

Note Regarding The Barlow Translation

The translation first printed is that of Barlow as written in the original treaty book, including not only the twelve articles of the treaty proper, but also the receipt and the note mentioned, according to the Barlow translation, in Article 10. The signature of Barlow is copied as it occurs, but not his initials, which are on every page of the fourteen which is not signed. The Humphreys approval or confirmation follows the translation; but the other writings, in English and Spanish, in the original treaty book, are not printed with the translation but only in these notes.

It is to be remembered that the Barlow translation is that which was submitted to the Senate (American State Papers, Foreign Relations, II, 18-19) and which is printed in the Statutes at Large and in treaty collections generally; it is that English text which in the United States has always been deemed the text of the treaty.

Source of Information:

Treaties and other International Acts of the United States of America, Volume 2, Documents 1-40; 1776-1818, edited by Hunter Miller, United States Government Printing Office, Washington: 1931. pp 382-83)


The eleventh article of the Barlow translation has no equivalent whatever in the Arabic. The Arabic text opposite that article is a letter from Hassan Pasha of Algiers to Yussuf Pasha of Tripoli. The letter gives notice of the treaty of peace concluded with the Americans and recommends its observation.

Three fourths of the letter consists of an introduction, drawn up by a stupid secretary who just knew a certain number of bombastic words and expressions occurring in solemn documents, but entirely failed to catch their real meaning. Here the only thing to be done by a translator is to try to give the reader an impression of the nonsensical original:

Praise be to God, who inspires the minds of rulers with causes of well-being and righteousness! The present matter may be in the interest of the land and the servants [of God], in order that things may be put in their place. This whole affair has been opened [by omission of one letter the Arabic reads "victories" instead of "opened"] by the intermediary of the exalted, honored Prince, the Lord Hassan Pasha, in the protected [by (rod] Algiers, may God strengthen him and give him victory and help him in accomplishing good things; thus in the beginning and in the end, and may the acquiescence in his order take place by considering all his affairs, and may his endeavor repose on the fitness of his reflection. So may God make it, the beginning of this peace, a good and graceful measure and an introduction having for result exaltation and glorification, out of love for our brother and friend and our most beloved, the exalted Lord Yussuf Pasha, [here follows the same word as in Article 10: al-munshi?, "residing" or "governing"] in the well-protected [by God] Tripoli, may God strengthen him by His grace and His favor, amen! Because our interests are one and united, because our aim is that acts may succeed by overthrowing justice, and the observance [of duty?; of treaties?; of the Sacred Law?] becomes praiseworthy by facts entirely, amen ! by making successful safety and security by permanence of innumerable benefits and pure and unmixed issue. Prosperity accompanies highness and facilitation of good by length of the different kinds of joy makes permanent. Praise be to God for the comprehensive benefit and your perfect gifts, may God make them permanent for us and for you, thus till the day of resurrection and judgment, as long as times last, amen!

Further, if there are American people coming to the well-protected Tripoli, they wish to be, by your carefulness, honored [and free] from all disagreements as are, Indeed, all the [Christian] nations, so that nobody molests them and no injury befalls them; and likewise people from Tripoli, if they proceed to the country of the Americans, they shall be honored, elevated upon the heads, nobody molesting or hindering them until they travel [homeward] in good state and prosperity. Thus. And greetings!

Source of Information:

Treaties and other International Acts of the United States of America, Volume 2, Documents 1-40; 1776-1818, edited by Hunter Miller, United States Government Printing Office, Washington: 1931. pp 371-72)


TREATY OF TRIPOLI, 1806

APRIL, 1806

ARTICLE XIV. AS the government of the United States of America has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquillity of Mussulmen, and as the said States never have entered into any voluntary war or act of hostility against any Mahometan except in defense of their just rights to freely navigate the high seas, it is declared by the contracting parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two nations. And the consuls and agents of both nations respectively shall have liberty to exercise his religion in his own house. All slaves of the same religion shall not be impeded in going to said consul's house at hours of prayer.

Source of Information:

"Treaty of Peace, Amity, and Commerce Between the President and Citizens of the United States of America, and the Basha, Bey, and Subjects of Tripoli, in Bombay, Concluded June 4, 1805; Ratified by the Senate April 12, 1806," Treaties and Conventions Concluded between the United States of America and Other Powers, Since July 4, 1776, published by the Department of State, 1889, page 1084, American State Papers Bearing On Sunday Legislation, Revised and Enlarged Edition, Compiled and Annotated by William Addison Blakely, Revised Edition Edited by Willard Allen Colcord, The Religious Liberty Association, Washington D.C. 1911, pp 164-165

*Like the treaty of 1797, this treaty showed the government of the United States to be impartial in matters of religion,--that it had no established religion, and that the question of religion and religious opinion was not to be considered in national affairs. It showed that it was not the policy of this government to compel those within its jurisdiction, who are not Christians, to act as though they were.*

Additional sources of information on this subject:

"Joel Barlow And The Treaty With Tripoli: A Tangled Tale Of Pirates, A Poet And The True Meaning Of The First Amendment" by Rob Boston, Church & State Magazine, June, 1997

"Does the 1796-97 Treaty with Tripoli Matter to Church/State Separation?"; Speech given to the Humanists of Georgia on June 22, 1997 and at the 1997 Lake Hypatia Independance Day Celebration, by Ed Buckner, Ph.D.

"Is The United States a Christian Country?" by Rev. James W. Watkins

"The Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense founded on the Christian Religion" by Jim Walker. [12/2001 No longer available at http://members.icanect.net/~zardoz/Tripoli.htm]
or "Little-Known U. S. Document Signed by President Adams Proclaims America's Government is Secular" by Jim Walker.


The Avalon Project at the Yale Law School

The Barbary Treaties :
Treaty of Peace and Friendship, Signed at Tripoli November 4, 1796

The Text
The Receipt
The Note
The Approval of Humphreys
The Barbary Treaties : Tripoli 1796 The Annotated Translation of 1930
Translation of the Treaty
Translation of the Receipt
Translation of the Note
Account of the Seals
The Barbary Treaties : Tripoli 1796 Hunter Miller's Notes
The Original Treaty
The Cathcart Copy
The Italian Translation
The United States Ratification and Proclamation
Note Regarding the Arabic Text
Note Regarding the Barlow Translation

The Barbary Treaties : Tripoli 1805 Convention of February 23, 1805

The Barbary Treaties : Tripoli 1805 Convention of February 23, 1805
The Barbary Treaties : Tripoli 1805 Text of the Treaty
The Receipt
The Barbary Treaties : Tripoli 1805 The Lear Declaration of June 5, 1805
The Barbary Treaties : Tripoli 1805 The Arabic Text
The Barbary Treaties : Tripoli 1805 Hunter Miller's Notes
The Original Documents
The File Papers
The Ratification
The Proclamation
Note Regarding Article 3
The Lear Declaration


 
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