Sprague and Blodget - Gavino and Cardozo
Admiral Linzee and Benoliel - O'Sullivan and Menachie
Mordecai Manuel Noah was an American Jew of Sephardic ancestry. He is reputed to have been the first Jewish person born in the US to reach national prominence. During the First Barbary War - or the United States war against the Algerians - Noah was appointed American Consul for the city and Kingdom of Tunis. One of his most important assignments was to obtain the release of a number of Americans who were being held captive in Algiers - as well as to try to find out why exactly the Algerians had decided to declare war against the USA.
There seem to have been some unease in government as to how Noah had conducted these tasks -which were unfairly based on the fact that he was a Jew. He was duly recalled. As he was never properly exonerated Noah understandably felt the need to explain himself. He did so in the rather ambiguously titled Travels in England, France, Spain and the Barbary States, published 1819 but which refer to events that happened several years earlier.
Mordecai Manuel Noah ( 1819 - Travels in England, France Spain and the Barbary )
Noah visited Gibraltar in 1812 which coincided with America's declaration of war against Britain over Canada. The quotes below refer to his experiences during this period and as they appear in his 'Travels'.
Tangier . . . a felucca with fruit, was bound for Gibraltar, and we took departure. . . . . We entered the fine Bay . . . and came to anchor, near the water-port gate. The Bay was crowded with shipping; several men of war, a number of Tartans, galliots, Xebeques, and small coasters. On the opposite side of the Bay, lay Algeciras . . .
Everything about us was warlike; batteries ranging the shores and rising one above the other, pointed out the importance of the place, and its strong works of defence. Even the Rock, at an extreme height, was perforated . . .
The mole was crowded with porters, and persons engaged in landing cargoes, from the vessels in the Bay. . . . went ashore to obtain permission . . . to land; there were two American gentleman residing in the garrison, Mr. Sprague and Mr, Blodget; application was made without effect; Mr. Gavino, the former consul, declined interfering, and the Governor would not consent to our landing.
Night came in and it began to rain terribly. We were exceedingly uncomfortable in the little Felucca . . . and resolving not to pass the night in that situation, we boarded a large Xebeque, which lay near us; the captain, a Genoese, permitting us to pass the night with him, and we took up quarters in a large comfortable cabin. . . Several captains of small craft laying near us, came on board to spend the evening.
The cabin was clean and spacious; a small image of the Virgin was placed in a niche, ner the windows, before which a light burned, and several pictures of saints were hung up, as protectors to the pious voyagers. Sardinas, stewed with oil, an a sea biscuit, were served up in a rude way; each with a wooden spoon, helped himself out of the large earthen dish, and they drank common red wine out of mugs.
Their conversation, which was carried out in Italian, related principally to commerce. The Genoese, who never leave the Mediterranean, except to coast along the shores of Spain and Portugal, carry on a very active trade with their small vessels; they come down with Greeks, from Rhodes, Cyprus, the Morea, Zante, Corsica, Malta, and the ports of Italy laden with wine, fruits etc which they exchange for colonial produce, and British goods - Gibraltar is a free port and receives no duty, except a trifle on spirits, and a few other articles.
Through the exertions of Mr. Cardoza, a wealthy merchant, and Mr. Sprague, we were permitted to land, and had a card, with the period of our stay written on it. We passed through the gate and up the main street, filled with stores, drays and porters, merchants with hurried looks; Moors, Jews from Barbary; British soldiers; Spanish contrabandists; muleteers; Genoese sailors; all mixed and confused, denoting a population, at once active and spirited.
The Wharf ( 1844 - George Lothian Hall )
We stopped at the Crown, a large tavern facing the Plaza and kept by an Irish lady, where we were accommodated with a room . . . Mr. Sprague, whose name is familiar to the people of the United States, and endeared by the recollection of many acts of kindness and hospitality, was permitted to reside in the Garrison, although war had been sometime declared. His presence was of the outmost importance to his countrymen, many of whom were rescued from prison ships by his exertions . . . . The Commander of the naval forces in that station, was a native American called Linzee, born in Boston, and is an Admiral in the British service.
Prior to the declaration of war, a number of vessels laden with flour, sailing under British licence arrived at Gibraltar; admiral Linzee accustomed to associate generally with the Americans, had invited a party to take breakfast with him, on board of his flag ship; after the company returned to the shore, the arrival of a vessel communicating the tidings, that war had been declared.
The admiral, not satisfied with taking possession of all American ships in the Bay, sent orders to the Garrison to cause the Americans, who had just quitted his cabin after partaking of his hospitality, to be arrested as prisoners of war. The town sergeants went in pursuit of them; and Mr. Sprague, apprised of the order, caused them to be carried over to Algeciras; and placed out of the reach of harm.
There was something in this step of the admiral's insufferably mean; not warranted by the strict performance of duty, and not sanctioned by considerations of hospitality. These captains were protected by licences, such as they were, and had just left his table. The circumstances of admiral Linzee's being American by birth may have induced him to adopt measures of a more rigorous character, in order to remove suspicion of any national bias; but in this determination, he paid a poor compliment to the liberality and confidence of the British government.
Samuel Hood Linzee as a young officer
. . it may be questionable whether more than 10000 person's including the military now occupy Gibraltar. The Jews have one large and three small synagogues; and a great portion of the commerce of that port, is in their hands. The lower order emigrate from Barbary, and bring with them their customs, and dress; they are mostly porters and labouring men. There are some Jewish houses immensely wealthy, and highly respectable, among them, those of Benoliel ( see LINK ) and Cordazo . . . ( see LINK )
There were but three Americans residing in the Garrison during my visit, Messrs Sprague ( see LINK ) Blodget and O'Sullivan. . . Gibraltar, its crowded population, the heat in the summer, its military organisation, and immense works of defence . . . combine to render it a residence by no means pleasant or agreeable. . . . Society, as in all garrison towns is much divided. The military having little or no connection with the citizens, and associating principally among themselves.
I paid a visit to Algeciras . . on the opposite side of the Bay . . we crossed in a large ferry boat filled with Spanish peasants, returning from market with soldiers and seamen going over to Algeciras, where a small garrison is kept. . . A tin cup was handed about among the passengers by a boy, to receive donations for 'las animas benditas' or souls in purgatory.
Each gave an 'achova', a small copper coin, the value of a farthing; all of which was emptied in a pocket handkerchief and left on the bench in the boat; superstition being its guardian, as no one ever steals the money collected for masses, said for the souls in purgatory . . . We called to see Don Cosmo Burlini, American Vice Consul . . and afterwards visited the theatre . . . I perceived in the stage box, a lady who was the Belle of Algeciras, and well known in Gibraltar; her name was Menachie . . . she was extremely handsome and accomplished; and appeared a very general favourite.
Algeciras ( 1824 - Arnaut )