Thomas Jefferson and the Tripoli Pirates: The Forgotten War That Changed American History
Brian Kilmeade, Don Yaeger
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The paperback edition of the New York Times Bestseller. This is the little-known story of how a newly independent nation was challenged by four Muslim powers and what happened when America's third president decided to stand up to intimidation.
When Thomas Jefferson became president in 1801, America was deeply in debt and needed its economy to grow quickly, but its merchant ships were under attack. Pirates from North Africa routinely captured American sailors and held them as slaves, demanding ransom and tribute far beyond what the new country could afford.
Jefferson found it impossible to negotiate with the leaders of the Barbary states, who believed their religion justified the plunder and enslavement of non-Muslims. These rogue states would show no mercy, so President Jefferson decided to move beyond diplomacy. He sent the U.S. Navy's new warships and a detachment of Marines to blockade Tripoli--launching the Barbary Wars and beginning America's journey toward future superpower status.
As they did in George Washington's Secret Six, Kilmeade and Yaeger have transformed a nearly forgotten slice of history into a dramatic story that will keep you turning the pages to find out what happens next. Among the many suspenseful episodes:
·Lieutenant Andrew Sterett's ferocious cannon battle on the high seas against the treacherous pirate ship Tripoli.
·Lieutenant Stephen Decatur's daring night raid of an enemy harbor, with the aim of destroying an American ship that had fallen into the pirates' hands.
·General William Eaton's 500-mile march from Egypt to the port of Derne, where the Marines launched a surprise attack and an American flag was raised in victory on foreign soil for the first time.
weather and the activity of his crew. Finally, after several weeks of demands and demurrals as the Americans and Algerians went back and forth, O’Brien received a final summons. He was told that Bainbridge must submit to the order or surrender the ship and subject his crew to captivity. A refusal, O’Brien understood, would also have a wider consequence: it would mean war with Algiers. With no alternative, the two Americans bowed to the dey’s demand. What had begun as a proud voyage was about to
Enterprise sailed beneath the Union Jack, hoping to keep her American identity a secret. Within the hour, the crew of Decatur’s ship saw that their target flew Tripolitan colors. A shift in the wind permitted the Enterprise to gain on the boat, which was suddenly dead in the water. By ten o’clock, the Tripolitan captain, thinking he had nothing to fear from the Royal Navy, stood on deck with some twenty of his men, waiting to greet the approaching ship. When the two American ships abruptly
costly than the sum of the ransoms, bribes, and maritime losses. Adams disagreed. He believed that a war against the Islamic nations would be costly and possibly unwinnable. It would certainly require too large a military force for America’s budget. Opposing Jefferson’s belief that a small navy could solve the problem, he told Jefferson, “We ought not to fight them at all unless We determine to fight them forever.”18 Despite their differences, the two men worked tirelessly to gain the freedom
had become well known to readers of American newspapers during the Barbary War. The commodore most closely associated with their Barbary exploits, Edward Preble, lived until just 1807, succumbing, at age forty-six, to consumption. But his reputation would survive him. Pope Pius VII reportedly said Decatur had done more for the cause of Christianity in an hour than the nations of Christendom ever had. And his name gained further luster in the next decade when several of the officers who fought for
rather than on their cannons.2 He hinted that the Americans would need only a small navy to beat the pirates, but, perhaps caving to political pressure, he stopped short of calling for direct military action. “It rests with Congress to decide between war, tribute, and ransom,” he concluded, “as the means of re-establishing our Mediterranean commerce.”3 Some senators considered instituting a navy, but the nation’s empty treasury ended the conversation about warships even before it got started.