Sunday, April 19, 2009

I Struck Gold! Second Addendum to Primary Sources 101







Preface (and Spoiler):

The punch line (the "gold") of this lengthy expatiation is the accurate citation for the famous quote of the Muslim ambassador concerning Islamic piracy which Thomas Jefferson recorded in 1786:

The Papers of Thomas Jefferson 
in 34 volumes (and still incomplete)
Julian P. Boyd, Editor
Princeton, NJ
Princeton University Press, 1954
pages 357-9 in volume 9.

Now kick your feet up, take a sip of gin or hot chocolate, and read the full back story.

Discussion:

As I expected in my last article, Addendum to Primary Sources 101, I received notice by email that the college library near me indeed has the edition of Thomas Jefferson writings footnoted by Melvin E. Lee, whom Raymond Ibrahim cited in his own Jihad Watch article about the current rash of Somalian piracy within a broader history of Islamic piracy, including the Barbary piracy in which the newly created United States of America was embroiled.

So today I went to the library as I promised, and looked up the reference footnoted by Melvin E. Lee:

Thomas Jefferson, ‘The American Commissioners Report to John Jay, in Paul L. Ford, ed., The Works of Thomas Jefferson, vol. 9 (New York and London: G.P. Putnams Sons, 1904-5), p. 358.

(More precisely, Lee footnotes a Frank Lambert book, The Barbary Wars, in which the Paul L. Ford edition is supposed to be cited, which Lee also provided
but not without problems, as we shall see.)

I went to the spot on the shelves where this multi-volume edition was supposed to be. And lo and behold, there it was. It was twelve volumes total. I checked the first volume, just to make sure the publication information was the same as that noted by Lee. It was.

At this point, I thought I was nearing the final pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. What could go wrong now? I took volume 9 in hand and went off to find a study carrell to sit in, so I could get to the actual meaty, juicy quote in question and copy it down on a piece of paper.

I should have known: when I flipped through to page 358, there was nothing resembling
The American Commissioners Report to John Jay” as Raymond Ibrahim and Melvin E. Lee had assured me. Instead, what I found on that page was To the Secretary of the Treasury (Albert Gallatin.)” I read through it, just to make sure: nothing about the Barbary pirates or about any ambassador from Tripoli. Of course, I looked on adjacent pages before and after, just to make sure it wasnt off by a page or two. Nothing.

Now what? I spent a good 20 minutes scouring through the general index supplied in the last volume, volume 12, looking up any reference that might lead me to the right place
Barbary, ambassador, Tripoli, and even tried the Muslim name of the ambassador which has been bandied about the Blogosphere, Adjawhich I soon learned was misleading, if not inaccurate. Needless to say, the index had no Adja.

Frustrated and dispirited, I was about to leave the library, when I noticed another edition of Thomas Jefferson works nearby
this one titled The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, in 34 volumes (and still incomplete); a good three times the size of the Paul L. Ford edition. This editions publication information was the following:

Julian P. Boyd, Editor
Princeton, NJ
Princeton University Press, 1954.

Assuming that this edition would have completely different pagination and possibly different organization of headings, etc., I went straight for the index. Unfortunately, it had no general index for all volumes, but divided the indices up into 4-volume pamphlets. I had forgotten in what year the Jefferson report I was looking for had been written, so it took me some time hunting down what to look up in the indices. Also, at the time, I did not know the proper Muslim name for the ambassador, and there was no Adjathe name bandied about in the Blogosphere (including formally by Hugh Fitzgerald) in any of the indices. Looking up the entries for Barbary proved to be rather frustrating, since they referred the reader to innumerable pages apparently having little to do with my concern.

Finally, on a serendipitous fluke, when I looked up Tripoli in one of the indices, it referred the reader to see Abdrahamanwhich I dutifully did. Finally, I found something that looked like a meeting between Jefferson and Adams and this Abdrahaman character.

Strangely enough, the volume and pagination were exactly the same as that which had been referenced by Melvin E. Lee / Frank Lambert to the wrong multi-volume editioni.e., to the Paul L. Ford edition, not this one, the Julian P. Boyd edition!

At any rate, I flipped through to page 358 in volume 9 of the Boyd edition, and lo and behold: there it was. I had hit paydirt!

Spanning pages 357-9 in volume 9 of the Boyd edition, the entry was titled:

American Commissioners to John Jay
March 28th. 1786


Here then is my transcription of the relevant passage:

We took the liberty to make some inquiries concerning the Grounds of their pretentions to make war upon Nations who had done them no Injury, and observed that we considered all mankind as our friends who had done us no wrong, nor had given us any provocation.

The Ambassador answered us that it was founded on the Laws of their Prophet, that it was written in their Koran, that all nations who should not have acknowledged their authority were sinners, that it was their right and duty to make war upon them wherever they could be found, and to make slaves of all they could take as Prisoners, and that every Musselman who should be slain in battle was sure to go to Paradise.

Some observations are in order here to complete the process of unravelling all the niggling complexities and inaccuracies surrounding the use of this quote in the Blogosphere (and in the real world of actual books) by various members of the still inchoate anti-Islam movement:

1. The various wordings.

a) As I recounted in my last essay, there exist at least three versions of this quote, bandied about on the Blogosphere and finding their way into books as well. We can now see that the partial citation of the quote by presented by Ibrahim / Melvin E. Lee / Frank Lambert / Paul L. Ford is incorrect:

“right and duty to make war upon them wherever they could be found, and to enslave as many as they could take as prisoners.”


Where and how the incorrect wording crept in, who knows. One assumes that Paul L. Ford is not to blame, and that therefore the corruption began with Frank Lambert, or with Melvin E. Lee. In the chain of transmission here, Ibrahim is merely copy-pasting a previous error.

b) Somewhat good news: other than the Ibrahim / Melvin E. Lee corruption, the quote most commonly bandied about the Blogosphere is, with the exception of one letter (for some reason, they capitalize the word
Battle), the same as the quote from the Boyd edition. This is all well and good, but until the actual primary source was located, we had no way of knowing it was accurate, and this in turn cast doubt on whether it was a real quote at all, or what its real wording was.

2. The name of the Muslim ambassador:


Hugh Fitzgerald, for example,
writes:

They had a meeting with the representative of Tripolitania (present-day Libya) then in the Great Britain, Sidi Haji Rahmand Adja.I
m not sure where he gets this name from. At any rate, the name cited in Boyds edition of the Thomas Jefferson papers, and the name used by Jefferson and others in there, is Abdrahaman or Abdurrahman. This name, Adja, has been bandied about the Blogosphere, and apparently it has simply been copied from blogger to blogger, without anyone bothering to check on the more accurate name.

3.
Musselman:

Interestingly enough, the apparent misspelling of
Mussulman as Musselman is in the original written by Thomas Jefferson and John Adams. Either they did not know how to spell the word, or Musselman is indeed a correct variant, though I have been unable to find it in old dictionaries.

Conclusion:


To all those who have seen fit to make use of this quote, without adequately verifiable documentation thereof
such as Hugh Fitzgerald, Raymond Ibrahim, Robert Spencer, Andrew Bostom, Daniel Pipes, Pamela Geller, Michelle Malkin, Baron Bodissey, FjordmanI hereby say, with sarcastic tongue in cheek, youre welcome.






16 comments:

Kinana said...

Erich
What an excellent service to the counter jihad movement!

i first came across this quote from the Gregory Davis book 'Religion of Peace' p. 128.

the only difference i see is the 'a Nation' and 'Nations'.

your quote says
'to make war upon Nations'

the 'Religion of Peace' quote says
'to make war upon a Nation'

it helps clarify the more all encompassing nature of jihad.

thanks

Erich said...

Thanks Kinana.

The variance in the Gregory Davis book is interesting. To me, even one variance, no matter how little, is not acceptable -- unless, of course, the actual quote from the primary source is available out there to compare it with. But 99% of readers out there don't have access to the original and nobody but me, apparently, has bothered to track it down -- and my readership is minuscule.

Even if I had a large readership, there still remains the problem of my credibility and trustworthiness, even if only on the matter of whether I was a careful transcriber of the quote I provided. But since I also provided the reference, anybody can go to their library (if it's a good library) and look it up and check it.

I don't have Gregory Davis's book on hand -- can you tell me what reference he provides for that quote?

Thanks again

Kinana said...

Erich

the footnote reads:

'Adams and Jefferson, "Quotes from the Founding Fathers" in USDOJ and Government Watch.'

the bibliography reads:
same as above plus 'http://www.dojgov.net/Liberty_Watch.htm’

On the matter of variances in original texts, part of the tripping-up tactics of Muslims is to castigate any failure of 100% of a quote of the Qur'an or hadith as some kind of gross deception and/or evidence that the other part of your argument is just as faulty, so I have been trained to do my best to get all quotes right!

btw, you deserve a larger readership!

Take care

Erich said...

Thanks again Kinana.

I checked out Gregory Davis's reference: it is basically another non-primary source, simply a blog that is repeating the quote without providing the primary source reference.

Also, I see that his non-primary source, a blog called USDOJ & Government Watch, provides the quote containing a couple of other variances in addition to the "nation/nations" one you spotted:

Gregory Davis's source's quote:

“We took the liberty to make some inquiries concerning the Grounds of their pretensions to make war upon a Nation who had done them no Injury, and observed that we considered all mankind as our Friends who had done us no wrong, nor had given us any provocation. The Ambassador answered us that it was founded on the Laws of their Prophet, that it was written in their Koran, that all nations who should not have acknowledged their authority were sinners, that it was their right and duty to make war upon them wherever they could be found, and to make slaves of all they could take as Prisoners, and that every Musselman who should be slain in Battle was sure to go to Paradise.”

The primary source as provided by Boyd edition quoted in my article:

"We took the liberty to make some inquiries concerning the Grounds of their pretentions to make war upon Nations who had done them no Injury, and observed that we considered all mankind as our friends who had done us no wrong, nor had given us any provocation."

"The Ambassador answered us that it was founded on the Laws of their Prophet, that it was written in their Koran, that all nations who should not have acknowledged their authority were sinners, that it was their right and duty to make war upon them wherever they could be found, and to make slaves of all they could take as Prisoners, and that every Musselman who should be slain in battle was sure to go to Paradise."

The variances are four (the first of each pair is Gregory Davis's source, the second is the Boyd edition):

a Nation
Nations

Friends
friends

Battle
battle

-- as well as the absence of a paragraph break in Davis's source's version.

I know this may seem nitpicking to you, but could you tell me if Gregory Davis in his book has all these variances? I'd appreciate it, thanks,

Erich

Kinana said...

Yes,

Friends - Davis
Battle – Davis

And no paragraphs. What you quoted as his source is what is in the book (as far as I can tell!).

Also in this excellent book, Mr Davis mentioned earlier (p. 70) a hadith. What struck me was the consistency of the message, though they were delivered over a thousand years apart.

Volume 4, Book 53, Number 386:

Narrated Jubair bin Haiya:
'Umar [the second Caliph] sent the Muslims to the great countries to fight the pagans. …When we reached the land of the enemy, the representative of Khosrau [Persia] came out with forty-thousand warriors, and an interpreter got up saying, "Let one of you talk to me!" Al-Mughira replied, … Our Prophet, the Messenger of our Lord, has ordered us to fight you till you worship Allah Alone or give Jizya (i.e. tribute); and our Prophet has informed us that our Lord says: -- "Whoever amongst us is killed (i.e. martyred), shall go to Paradise to lead such a luxurious life as he has never seen, and whoever amongst us remain alive, shall become your master." …

Take care

Erich said...

Yes, that ultimatum delivered to the Persian Emperor which the hadith you quoted refers to was also extensively described by a Muslim historian Al-Tabari (writing about 300 years afterward, in approximately 923 A.D.).

While the Tripoli ambassador's remarks to Jefferson & Adams don't represent the ultimatum aspect, only the legitimacy of attacking Infidels (and the reward for it), it's basically the same thing. The implication is clear that the Muslims will stop attacking the Infidels and stop expecting extortion money, if the Infidels simply convert to Islam. If Jefferson or Adams had thought to ask him another probing question along this line, the ambassador would have clarified that to him, I'm sure.

I analyzed Tabari's ultimatum in the context of an early Western historian who showed signs of PC MC as far back as 1849:

When Did PC Begin? Third Case Study

Blode0322 said...

Hats off, Erich. Primary-source research can be frustrating and quite rewarding - I find something like that in a dusty tome in a library I want to run around telling all the other patrons what I've found - as if they would appreciate it!

If I see anybody misquoting this I will set them straight.

Blode0322 said...

P.S. Do you regard the version at Wikipedia to be inaccurate? It goes on about the Muslims fighting with a dagger in each hand, etc. - I was wondering if that was in the Jefferson original.

Erich said...

Thanks Blode,

I had long given up on Wikipedia and don't consult it anymore, but I'm glad you linked this particular one, as it inspired me to write a complete essay on their inadequacy with regard to this quote:

http://hesperado.blogspot.com/2009/04/primary-sources-101-and-pseudopedia.html

Just quickly to answer your specific question on that added detail about pirates boarding ships etc., I can't remember if that was in the Boyd edition I found. My focus at the time was on the "money quote" -- an actual Muslim diplomat calmly and matter-of-factly telling Jefferson and Adams that piracy is legitimate because it's based on the Koran and Sunna (the Sunna being the "Laws of the Prophet") -- so if it was there, I decided to leave it out.

In the above linked essay, I go into more detail on all this.

Thanks again,
Hesperado

Erich said...

P.S.: During the approximately 90 minutes I was at the library thumbing through one volume after another from two multi-volume sets of Jefferson papers, I stumbled across a letter from John Adams in which he had met with that same Muslim ambassador in London at a date prior to the more famous meeting with Jefferson also present. At that prior meeting (I'm just typing now from memory -- I did not actually take notes on this), Adams describes how the ambassador insisted that Adams sit on the floor and smoke tobacco from a giant houkka (water pipe) and also to drink very strong coffee. After Adams had taken a couple of puffs off the pipe, he reported that the ambassador's underlings exulted, and said excitedly to Adams "Now you are a Turk!"

Kinana said...

amazing stuff. i really chuckled!

Was Adams President at the time?!

Did he inhale?!

Erich said...

Funny, Kinana. John Adams became Vice-President 3 years later (1789), then later, in 1797, became the second President (after George Washington).

In that letter I referred to, Adams also remarked that he ordinarily didn't like to smoke at all, but he went ahead and did so anyway so as not to give any reason for his host to be offended. The editor (Boyd) of the Jefferson Papers in a footnote said that elsewhere, Adams had some pretty harshly critical observations about the ambassador and the Maghreb Muslims in general.

Kuni said...

You are conveniently overlooking the fact that the sociopathic liars you mention: Hugh Fitzgerald, Raymond Ibrahim, Robert Spencer, Andrew Bostom, Daniel Pipes, Pamela Geller, Michelle Malkin, Baron Bodissey, Fjordman; are trying to pass this “quote” off as coming from Jefferson/Adams themselves.

When in fact Jefferson/Adams were merely repeating what a single negotiator, who just also happened to be the enemy’s ambassador, had told them in a response to an inquiry by them.

Erich said...

I hadn't seen this comment by "Kuni" until just now, as I have been remiss in checking my older essays for new comments (and technically I have no way of knowing when a new one appears until I actually scroll down).

"Kuni" wrote:

You are conveniently overlooking the fact that the sociopathic liars you mention: Hugh Fitzgerald, Raymond Ibrahim, Robert Spencer, Andrew Bostom, Daniel Pipes, Pamela Geller, Michelle Malkin, Baron Bodissey, Fjordman; are trying to pass this “quote” off as coming from Jefferson/Adams themselves.

The tendentious and irrelevant language aside, "Kuni" is just plain wrong. Here's one example of one of the "sociopathic liars" on his list -- Raymond Ibrahim. In this article on the Barbary Pirates, Ibrahim quotes Melvin E. Lee, who wrote:

"Jefferson related a conversation he had in Paris with Ambassador Abdrahaman of Tripoli, who told him that all Christians are sinners in the context of the Koran and that it was a Muslim’s “right and duty to make war upon them wherever they could be found, and to enslave as many as they could take as prisoners.”

Thus, the allegation of "Kuni" about Ibrahim is flat wrong. He, through his source Melvin E. Lee, is not imputing the words to Jefferson, but is specifically contextualizing the words as belonging to the Muslim ambassador.

http://www.jihadwatch.org/archives/025730.php

Similarly, upon examination of a Hugh Fitzgerald article on the same subject, we see him also properly attributing the words not to Jefferson or Adams, but to the Muslim ambassador:

"...they [Jefferson and Adams] asked the ambassador, Mr. Adja, why the Muslims of the Maghrib, the “Barbary pirates” as they were known in the West, did as they did.

"He had no trouble answering them, as the report written by Jefferson and Adams to the Continental Congress shows:

...that it was founded on the Laws of their Prophet, that it was written in their Koran, that all nations who should not have acknowledged their authority were sinners, that it was their right and duty to make war upon them wherever they could be found, and to make slaves of all they could take as Prisoners, and that every Musselman who should be slain in Battle was sure to go to Paradise. "

http://www.jihadwatch.org/dhimmiwatch/archives/011325.php

"Kuni" himself is either a sociopathic liar, or incredibly sloppy in his investigations. Or, of course, both.

Anonymous said...

(and technically I have no way of knowing when a new [comment] appears until I actually scroll down).

It is possible to check this using the following RSS feed (works well in IE8 and Firefox without any hassle):

http://hesperado.blogspot.com/feeds/comments/default.

A similar link for posts is the following:

http://hesperado.blogspot.com/feeds/posts/default.

(Obviously, one may replace "hesperado" in "hesperado.blogspot.com" with any other blog under the blogspot.com domain, e.g. "gatesofvienna.blogspot.com").

Erich said...

Thanks Anonymous, I'm not sure I want to download something just to be able to see comments -- it's easy enough to just scroll, as long as I remember to do it.