Sunday, February 11, 2007

The Adventures of Benjamin Franklin Seaver - Part 5

This is the fifth 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.

Part 4, which includes the third 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 fourth letter:


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

Wednow, (Africa), July 31, 1806.
Messrs. Court & Co.

Your esteemed favor of the 24th May ult. I have received, enclosed with the Consul-General's letter, by which I have seen the determination of the latter in my unfortunate affairs -- I now conceive it will not interfere in his official capacity, should any gentleman aid me in procuring my liberty alone, as he has wrote to me, he does not of himself consider that the Indefatigable was an American vessel, nor dare he pronounce her as such.

Since I wrote you last, I have endeavored to make my escape from these Moorish wretches, and really believe I should have effected it to my expectations, had not the one I agreed with, to go with me, failed in meeting at the appointed rendezvous. However I cleared myself of my fetters, and was gone fifty hours from them, when I was obliged to give myself up, as I could not find any water. Unfortunately, the man I met was a friend of the wretch who calls me his; accordingly a dispatch was sent to this place to say I was taken; although I offered 200 dollars if he would carry me to Mogadore, it did not avail any thing, I was soon conducted back to my former misery.

By this attempt you may naturally judge my treatment has not been bettered; I have repeatedly offered my owner 300 dollars if he would carry me to Mogadore, but he prefers retaining me until we are all ransomed together, although my master, with others, has hinted that I could be released for 400 dollars, and which I believe he would readily consent to, providing the sum was secured at Mogadore.

Now gentlemen, could you negociate for my liberty by any means, with the Jew Minahin, I should feel sincerely grateful for it, for my misery increase hourly. You may depend, whatever may be the cost, that it will be immediately paid on delivering my obligation to my agent in Boston, Mr. Samuel Gore, who I should by this conveyance write to, under cover for you to forward, but I have not any paper, nor can I get any, as these people have war with a neighboring village, consequently prevents the Jews from coming this way, who have hitherto supplied me with those articles. I have desired Mr. Guyn to enclose me some when he writes to me; I then shall immediately write to Mr. Gore, to remit a draft to your care either on London or Lisboa, from 500 to 1000 dollars, by which means you will be more quickly secured for any money you think prudent to advance for me in the negotiations of my liberty.

Mr. Lee, my mate, will also write to his brother, established in business in Boston, who is worth some handsome property, for the same purpose.

Mr. Berrit would write to Philadelphia likewise, but having friends in Bordeaux, he would be able to get assistance sooner by applying there; and we shall all accordingly write whenever we can get paper. I am much obliged to you for the particular news in one of your letters. When you again write to me, be pleased to mention how the war comes on, or any thing else that may serve to make me forget my misery for a moment, fancying I am not wholly excluded from civilized beings.

I sincerely regret capt. Baker's being brought up again, for I don't know how it may end with him -- it may be considered a coasting trade for the enemy.

Interim, gentlemen, I am in misery, with every sentiment of esteem,
........................Your obedient and very
......................................Humble servant,
..............................BENJAMIN F. SEAVER.

P.S. Please to inform me how the crew of the American ship Oswego were ransomed.


In mid-summer, Benjamin tries to escape through the Moroccan desert, but gives up after 50 hours of freedom and returned to his master. And he is out of paper to write on. But he still holds out hope, and provides specific instructions on who to contact for the money for his ransom.

Stay tuned for Part 6 of this series.

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