"It is the death of humanity to know the price of everything but the value of nothing." ~Unknown

Thursday, January 7, 2010



by Gene Garman

Was and is the 1797 Treaty with Tripoli an official treaty of the USA? Yes, all 12 articles as printed in English. See Treaties and Other International Acts of the United States of America , Hunter Miller, ed., 2:349-385:
"Treaty of Peace and Friendship, signed at Tripoli November 4, 1796, . . . and at Algiers January 3, 1797, . . . . Original in Arabic. Submitted [in English] to the Senate May 29, 1797. (Message of May 26, 1797.) Resolution of advice and consent June 7, 1797. Ratified by the United States June 10, 1797. . . . Proclaimed June 10, 1797" (p. 349).
"Treaty of Peace and Friendship between the United States of America and the Bey and Subjects of Tripoli of Barbary" (p. 364).
"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" (p. 365).
" The text . . . [of the] Treaty written in the Arabic Language, being translated into the Language of the United States, . . . is almost exactly the same as that in the Statutes at Large, . . . . Accordingly the provisions of the twelve articles appear . . . as written by [American diplomat Joel] Barlow in English in the original treaty book.""Thus the proclamation [June 10, 1797] was immediate with the ratification and did not await any such formality as notice to the Bey of Tripoli of the ratification of the treaty by the United States. The treaty . . . had been bought; and, as much of the purchase price had already been paid, any subsequent item of procedure was doubtless considered to be of comparatively little importance."
"Note Regarding the Barlow Translation. The translation 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" (p. 383).
"It is to be remembered that the Barlow translation is that which was submitted to the Senate . . . 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
"The Barlow translation is at best a poor attempt at a paraphrase or summary of the sense of the Arabic . . . . Most extraordinary (and wholly unexplained) is the fact that Article 11 of the Barlow translation, with its famous phrase, ‘the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion,’ does not exist at all [in the Arabic]. There is no Article 11 [in the Arabic]. The Arabic text which is between Articles 10 and 12 is in form a letter, crude and flamboyant and withal quite unimportant, from the Dey of Algiers to the Pasha of Tripoli. How that script came to be written and to be regarded, as in the Barlow translation, as Article 11 of the treaty as there written, is a mystery and seemingly must remain so. Nothing in the diplomatic correspondence of the time throws any light whatever on the point."
"A further and perhaps equal mystery is the fact that since 1797 the Barlow translation has been trustfully and universally accepted as the just equivalent of the Arabic. Its text was not only formally proclaimed as such but has been continuously printed and reprinted as such . . . . The Italian translation of the Arabic text . . . presents its own linguistic difficulties . . . it is none the less in essence a reasonable translation of the Arabic. Indeed, allowing for the crudeness of the original Arabic and the changes which always result from a retranslation, it may be said . . . that the Barlow translation . . . was ‘extremely erroneous’; but nothing indicating that the Italian translation was even consulted has been found, and it does not appear that it was ever before 1930 put into English" (p. 384).
Page 385: "When [James Leander] Cathcart, as the American Consul, arrived at Tripoli on April 5, 1799, . . . ‘a ratified copy of the Treaty with Tripoli’ [in the English language] was one of the enclosures with the instructions to Cathcart . . . very likely the ratification embraced the copy certified by Barlow under date of January 4, 1797, . . . [and] was delivered upon the settlement of April 10, 1799."
Conclusion: History revisionists of the so-called "religious right" strain to repudiate the 1797 Treaty with Tripoli as irrelevant and unofficial; they make much ado about the fact that Barlow's version in English was a poor paraphrase of the version in Arabic; and they grind their teeth over the fact that it was the only English version in existence and the only one considered when the Senate of the United States read, accepted, approved, and ratified the 1797 Treaty with Tripoli. The fact which completely destroys their argument is that none of the Senators who read, accepted, approved, and ratified the Treaty could read Arabic. The official and only 1797 Treaty with Tripoli which was read, accepted, approved, and ratified by the Senate of the United States was the one penned by Joel Barlow in the English language. And, whether the so-called "religious right" revisionists like it or not, Article 11 of the official 1797 Treaty with Tripoli was in the Treaty in 1797 and is appropriately recorded in the official treaty book: "The government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion” (p. 365).
The 1797 Treaty with Tripoli was officially signed by President John Adams, and 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 and 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" (p. 383).
The official 1797 Treaty with Tripoli which President John Adams signed and "ordered the premises [propositions] to be made public" included Article 11 in the English language. As for the Treaty in Arabic, not one Senator read it. The only Treaty which mattered to the Senators and the President was the one in English. The official treaty, in plain English, says: "The government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion." The United States Senators read and ratified it, and President John Adams read and signed it. They knew exactly what it said. To assert otherwise is dishonest.
text of the treaty."

Copyright 1997, 2005 Gene Garman

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