Saturday, February 10, 2007

The Adventures of Benjamin Franklin Seaver - Part 4

This is the fourth post of a series concerning the adventures of Benjamin Franklin Seaver (1780-1814), who was a mariner, captured by the Moors in Morocco in 1806.

Part 1 is here.

Part 2, which introduced a series of seven letters published in the "Connecticut Herald" newspaper (published in New Haven CT, dated 20 January 1807 (Volume IV, Issue 169, Page 1), and posted the first letter, is here.

Part 3, which includes the second letter, is here.

I accessed the images of these newspaper pages on the "America's Historical Newspapers, 1690-1876" (provided by NewsBank) on the New England Historic Genealogical Society website,

Here is the third letter:

Headline: No. III. Captain Seaver to Messrs. Courts.


Wednow, (Africa), June 9, 1806.
Messrs. Wm. Court & Co.

I wrote you last, the 28th of April, and did expect the pleasure of a letter from you. The treatment I have received since, has been the most inhuman and brutal, possible for the civilized world to conceive. I have been beat most unmercifully, and spit at, whenever the vile passion of these contemptible barbarians has dictated; with my legs in fetters for these three weeks past, and closely confined in a small place, with a short allowance of coarse barley meal and water, made into Cous Cusk, as they call it in their dialect. The reason they assign for this conduct towards me is, they say I have wrote to the Consul, not to send any money for the redemption of any one but myself and Berrit: what this arose from I know not. It happened on the same day, they began this treatment towards me, that a dispute had taken place between Berrit and one of the Association's crew. The latter to be revenged on Berrit, told his master that he was making with me arrangements to escape towards Mogadore. This report gave fresh vigor to their savage dispositions: and if there was a latent spark of passion undiscovered, it then came forth with all the ferocity characteristic to the untutored breast. Berrit's legs were then put in chains, his shoes were taken away, with a pair of Moorish slippers the Jew Haron had given me the day before: and threatened to send us farther southward to be keepers of Camels.

Such is our personal treatment: I have endeavored to make some agreement with the man who is my master, but he does not seem to be inclined, alledging if he lets me go, my people will not be any more thought of and he shall loose his price for them. If you could treat for my liberty with Minahin, who I understand is the correspondent of Jew Haron, and consequently empowered to act in affairs which concern the crew of the Indefatigable, I am pretty well persuaded they would take from 3 to 400 dollars for my liberty if not less, were they clearly made to understand it would not be any hindrance for their getting a ransom for my people ultimately. If it is not possible to treat with Minahin for my liberty, be pleased to ask him to write to Haron about this scandalous behaviour of the Moors towards me, and whether it would be possible for him to take me to his house to live, while I remain in confinement. In case I should have the good fortune for you to purchase my liberty by treating with Minahin, you may depend on the most prompt payment of the bills I may give you, which will be on my relative Mr. Samuel Gore of boston, who is well known, independent of any funds I may have in his hands, to be a man of staunch property.

Praying you will succeed in treating for my liberty with Minahin. I am, in misery,
..........Your obedient
..............humble servant,
....................BENJAMIN F. SEAVER.

Things have gotten worse for Benjamin in the six weeks since his last letter. He is frustrated because his earlier letters have not brought results. By this time, it probably seemed almost hopeless to him. And it is now summer on the West Coast of Africa.

Stay tuned for Part 5 - the fourth letter published by the Connecticut Herald newspaper.

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