Thursday, December 8, 2022

Selim the Algerine

So, I'm currently reading a book I picked up as an impulse buy fifteen years ago. It's moved from shelf to shelf over the years without my ever actually getting around to reading it. The current sort-out of my books and realization that I know someone who I think wd find it interesting make this seems a good time to re-home it.

I'll probably be making a separate post about the book in question*, but before I forget I wanted to share an odd little piece of Colonial-era history.

When John Craig, a frontier Presbyterian minister from Augusta County, was given charge of an emaciated, homesick Muslim prisoner-of-war who had escaped Mohawk custody at the end of the French and Indian War, he wrote Carter, appealed to the latter's reputation for 'beneficence to the poor and afflicted,' and asked the councillor to help 'Selim the Algerine' return to Algiers --a task Carter undertook with such generosity that Selim, upon returning to America several years later, traveled directly to Nomony** to seek Carter's renewed assistance, (p. 26)

I knew that was an international war but I confess I had no idea the combatants were so far-ranging. If I'd seen a book or movie which depicted someone from the Barbary States held captive by the Mohawks I wd have been skeptical. Live and learn. Sometime I'll have to see if I can find out more of Selim's story.***

--John R


**the chief of Carter's many plantations. 

***Andrew Levy, the author of THE FIRST EMANCIPATOR, gives as one source a 1924 book by an Andrew Price (SELIM THE ALGERIN) and another by Wm Meade (OLD CHURCHES, MINISTERS, AND FAMILIES OF VIRGINIA) which a quick search seems to indicate goes back to as far as 1861.

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