Birth of the Nation: The First Federal Congress, 1789-1791 Back to the Exhibit

Richard O'Bryen's Petition to the Congress, July 12, 1790

Petition to Congress, Algiers, 16 September 1788

14 May 1790

      Viz the ship Dauphin Richard OBryen Master Belonging to Mr. Mathew and Ths. Irwin Merchants of the City of Philadelphia, was Captured the 30th July 1785, by and Algerine Corsaire Fifty Leagues, to the westward of Lisbon, and on the 16th. of august was brought into Algiers, where we were made slaves of to this Regency.

      The schooner Maria Issac Stephens Master Belonging to Mr. William Foster of Boston in Massachusetts, was Captured the 25th July 1785, & brought to Algiers and Condemned to Slavery. Humbly sheweth that your petitioners situation is truly Miserable and unhappy much beyond our Expression, or your Conception. For since the unhappy period oure Captivity Commenced we have Experienced nothing but an uninterrupted scene of Griefe and Misery, and for the Major part of oure slavery, surrounded with the pest, and other Contagious, distempers, which has numbered six of oure Countrymen, in the Bills of Mortality, and has left fifteen of your unfortunate subjects in slavery.

      That your petitioners being sensible of the Multiplicity of Business, that has occupied your attention, since our lot of Slavery Commenced, and that the United States, was Employed, on affairs of more Importance, to the Futre happiness, and welfare of the Rising Empire, so that youre petitioners being fully sensible, that untill such time as affairs so important was adjusted at home nothing Could be done abroad.

      But now, that it hath. pleased God, that the new Constitution of a futre Government is formed and, Ratafied by the United States, your Humble petitioners hopes that, thire unhappy situation will be taken into Consideration, by the United States in Congress assembled, so that ways and means, will be adopted, for oure Restoration from Slavery, without which we will be Ever wretched and Miserable, and with which we will be Ever Content and Thankful to our Country.

      Excuse Haste & a Troubled Mind. I Experienced American Independence Let them consider the Basis on which the[y] at first formed thire Empire.

      We your Humble Petitioners returns oure Country oure sincere thanks, for the Comfortable provision, that has been allowed us and we are much indebted to youre Ambassadors, in Europe For thire particular attention towards us which has helped to alleviate (somewhat) our sufferings, without which allowance and attention, our Lives would be Rendered much more Burthensome and Unhappy, and we are allso much Indebted to Sundry gentlemen in Algiers for many Favours Rendered us, in times of Impending Danger.

      Your Most Humble Petitioners further prayes, you will consider what our Sufferings must have Been, for more then three years, in this Country, where we have Experienced Turkish severity, our crews being Employed, on the most, Laborious, work, Consumeing and declineing, under the scorching Heats, of this Climate. Far Distant from our, Families Friends, and Connections, without any prospect, of Ever seeing them more.

      But now, that the new Constitution of a Futre Government is Ratafied we hope you will Honourd. Sirs, Give such powers. to youre ministers in Europe so as, finally to Extricate your unfortunate petitioners & Countrymen from thire wretched & unfortunate Lot of Slavery.


(Courtesy of the National Archives)

digitized from DHFFC transcription   
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