Jefferson and the Barbary Pirate Coast
“The first nation to recognize my country was Morocco,” stated President Obama in Cairo, Egypt, June 4, 2009.
Morocco began recognizing American colonists in 1625.
Governor William Bradford described the incident in the History of the Plymouth Settlement.
In 1625, the Pilgrims sent two ships back to England carrying dried fish and 800 lbs of beaver skins to trade for much needed supplies.
What happened next?
Bradford related the fate of one ship:
“They … were well within the England channel, almost in sight of Plymouth. But … there she was unhapply taken by a Turkish man-of-war and carried off to Morocco where the captain and crew were made slaves … Now by the ship taken by the Turks … all trade was dead.”
Muslim pirates of Morocco raided European coasts and carried away over a million to the North African slave markets.
An estimated 180 millions Africans were captured and sold into Islamic slavery.
In 1627, Algerian Muslim pirates, led by Murat Reis the Younger, raided Iceland, and carried 400 into slavery.
One captured girl, who had been made a slave concubine in Algeria, was rescued back by King Christian IV of Denmark.
On June 20, 1631, the entire village of Baltimore, Ireland, “The Stolen Village,” was captured by Muslim pirates. Only two ever escaped to return.
Thomas Osborne Davis wrote in his poem, “The Sack of Baltimore” (1895):
“The yell of ‘Allah!’ breaks above the shriek and roar;
O'blessed God! the Algerine is lord of Baltimore.”
Des Ekin wrote in The Stolen Village: Baltimore and the Barbary Pirates (2008):
“Here was not a single Christian who was not weeping and who was not full of sadness at the sight of so many honest maidens and so many good women abandoned to the brutality of these barbarians.”
Kidnapped Englishman Francis Knight wrote:
“I arrived in Algiers, that city fatal to all Christians and the butchery of mankind.”
Moroccan Sultan Moulay Ismail had 500 wives, mostly captured from Europe, and forced 25,000 white slaves to build his enormous palace at Meknes.
He killed an African slave just to try out a new hatchet.
The Catholic Order “Trinitarians” or “Mathurins,” collected alms to ransom slaves.
One of those ransomed from North Africa was Miguel de Cervantes, author of Don Quixote de La Mancha (1605).
When America became independent, it was no longer covered by the British extortion tribute payments to the Muslim pirates.
Morocco “recognized” the United States in 1785 by capturing two American ships and holding the sailors for ransom.
Thomas Jefferson worked to free them, writing to John Jay, 1787:
“There is an order of priests called the Mathurins , the object of whose institution is to beg alms for the redemption of captives. They keep members always in Barbary, searching out the captives of their country, and redeem, I believe, on better terms than any other body, public or private. It occurred to me, that their agency might be obtained for the redemption of our prisoners at Algiers.”
In 1786, Thomas Jefferson wrote to William Carmichael regarding Tripoli’s demand for extortion tribute payment, 1786:
“Mr. Adams and I had conferences with a Tripoline ambassador, named Abdrahaman. He asked us thirty thousand guineas for a peace with his court.”
When Jefferson asked the Islamic Ambassador what the new country of America had done to offend them, he reported to John Jay, March 28, 1786:
“The ambassador answered us that it was founded on the laws of the prophet, it was written in their Qur'an, that all nations which had not acknowledged the Prophet were sinners, whom it was the right and duty of the faithful to plunder and enslave; and that every mussulman (Muslim) who was slain in this warfare was sure to go to paradise. He said, also, that the man who was the first to board a vessel had one slave over and above his share, and that when they sprang to the deck of an enemy’s ship, every sailor held a dagger in each hand and a third in his mouth; which usually struck such terror into the foe that they cried out for quarter at once.”
Jefferson read the Qur'an, not out of admiration or devotion, but to understand why Muslims were attacking Americans unprovoked.
The word Islam means submission to Allah, and a Muslim is one who has submitted to Allah.
Islam is a religion of peace, it is just the Islamic definition of “peace” is different.
To someone raised in Western Civilization, “peace” is achieved when different groups get along.
In Islam, “peace” is when everyone is submitted to Allah. Essentially, to a fundamental Muslim, “world peace” means “world Islam.”
This is similar to what Lincoln stated at the Sanitary Fair, Baltimore, Maryland, April 18, 1864:
“We all declare for liberty; but in using the same word we do not all mean the same thing.”
A moderate Muslim believes the world will submit to Allah later, maybe in the distant future or at the end of the world, and since it is so far off, they are not preoccupied with it and are non-violent.
A fundamentalist or “Islamist” Muslim believes the world is supposed to submit to Allah now, and they are excited to help make it happen.
This is referred to as becoming radicalized.
The dilemma for Western Civilization is, the more it shows itself welcoming and tolerant, the more a percentage of moderate Muslims begin to rethink that maybe the world is actually submitting to Allah now rather than later.
They gradually gravitate from the “future” non-violent mindset into the radicalized “now” mindset.
In other words, the nicer the West is, the more violent Islamists become.
This reflects a fundamentalist attitude, that when your enemy is strong, retreat; when your enemy is weak, attack.
Fear in the heart of the enemy is a sign Allah wants you to attack them.
Psychologist Nicolai Sennels explained (Hapeles Orthodox Jewish Newspaper, July 5, 2016):
“Muslims instinctively see our lack of reaction as fear, its an invitation to attack.”
Another word which has a different definition is the word “innocent.”
In Islam, it is wrong to kill the innocent, but the definition of innocent is a faithful follower of the way of Allah.
Those who reject sharia are not faithful followers, therefore they are not innocent:
– “Allah loveth not those who reject Faith” (Sura 3:32);
– “Be ruthless to the infidels” (Sura 48:29);
– “Make war on the infidels (Sura 9:123; 66:9);
– "Fight those who believe not in Allah” (Sura 9:29);
– “Kill the disbelievers wherever we find them” (Sura 2:191).
Saying it is wrong to kill the innocent is code for saying it is wrong to kill faithful Muslims.
Fundamental Islamists accuse moderate Muslims of being unfaithful — of backsliding from the way of Allah, having left following the example of Mohammed and the Rightly Guided Caliphs.
It is therefore justified to kill moderate Muslims along with non-Muslims.
Lawrence of Arabia wrote in Seven Pillars of Wisdom, 1922:
“Wahhabis, followers of a fanatical Moslem heresy, had imposed their strict rules … Everything was forcibly pious or forcibly puritanical.”
Ronald Reagan wrote in his autobiography, An American Life (Simon & Schuster, 1990, p. 409):
“Radical fundamentalist sects … have institutionalized murder and terrorism in the name of God, promising followers instant entry into paradise if they die for their faith or kill an enemy who challenges it. Twice in recent years, America has lost loyal allies in the Middle East, the Shah of Iran and Anwar Sadat, at the hands of these fanatics …”
“I don’t think you can overstate the importance that the rise of Islamic fundamentalism will have to the rest of the world in the century ahead — especially if, as seems possible, its most fanatical elements get their hands on nuclear and chemical weapons and the means to deliver them against their enemies.”
On August 8, 1974, Richard Nixon warned of the Middle East:
“… that the cradle of civilization will not become its grave.”
In 1793, Muslim Barbary pirates captured and plundered the U.S. cargo ship Polly, imprisoning the crew.
The pirate captain justified his brutal treatment of the Americans:
“… for your history and superstition in believing in a man who was crucified by the Jews and disregarding the true doctrine of God’s last and greatest prophet, Mohammed.”
In 1795, Muslim Barbary Pirates of Algiers captured 115 American sailors.
The United States was forced to pay nearly a million dollars in ransom.
At one point, nearly 20 percent of the U.S. Federal budget was used to make extortion tribute payments to the Muslim pirates.
A Treaty of Tripoli in 1798 failed.
Christopher Hitchens wrote in his article “Jefferson Versus the Muslim Pirates”:
“Of course, those secularists like myself who like to cite this treaty must concede that its conciliatory language was part of America’s attempt to come to terms with Barbary demands.”
Immediately after Jefferson became President in 1801, Barbary pirates demanded $225,000, plus an annual tribute of $25,000.
When Jefferson refused, the Pasha (Lord) of Tripoli declared war — the first war the U.S. was in after becoming a nation.
Jefferson sent U.S. frigates to the Mediterranean to protect American shipping.
In his First Annual Message, December 8, 1801, Jefferson stated:
“Tripoli, the least considerable of the Barbary States, had come forward with demands unfounded either in right or in compact, and had permitted itself to (declare) war on our failure to comply before a given day. The style of the demand admitted but one answer. I sent a small squadron of frigates into the Mediterranean, with assurances to that power of our sincere desire to remain in peace, but with orders to protect our commerce against the threatened attack … The Bey (lord) had already declared war. His cruisers were out. Two had arrived at Gibraltar. Our commerce in the Mediterranean was blockaded and that of the Atlantic in peril …”
“The arrival of our squadron dispelled the danger. One of the Tripolitan cruisers having fallen in with and engaged the small schooner Enterprise, commanded by Lieutenant Sterret, which had gone as a tender to our larger vessels, was captured, after a heavy slaughter of her men, without the loss of a single one on our part. The bravery exhibited by our citizens on that element will, I trust, be a testimony to the world.”
On December 29, 1803, the new 36-gun USS Philadelphia ran aground on Morocco’s shallow coast.
Muslims surrounded and captured Captain William Bainbridge and his 307 man crew for 18 months.
To prevent this ship from being used by Muslim pirates, Lieut. Stephen Decatur, in what was described as the “most bold and daring act of the age,” sailed his ship, Intrepid, on FEBRUARY 16, 1804, into the Muslim pirate harbor.
He climbed about the captured USS Philadelphia and set if ablaze, then fled out of the harbor.
Jefferson sent the Navy and Marines to capture Tripoli, led by Commodores Edward Preble, John Rogers and Captain William Eaton.
The Pasha was force to make peace on U.S. terms.
Frederick Leiner wrote in The End of the Barbary Terror-America’s 1815 War Against the Pirates of North Africa (Oxford University Press):
“Commodore Stephen Decatur and diplomat William Shaler withdrew to consult in private … The Algerians were believed to be masters of duplicity, willing to make agreements and break them as they found convenient.”
The annotated John Quincy Adams-A Bibliography, compiled by Lynn H. Parsons (Westport, CT, 1993, p. 41, entry #194), contains “Unsigned essays dealing with the Russo-Turkish War and on Greece,” published in The American Annual Register for 1827-28-29 (NY: 1830):
“Our gallant Commodore Stephen Decatur had chastised the pirate of Algiers … The Dey (Omar Bashaw) … disdained to conceal his intentions; ‘My power,’ said he, ‘has been wrested from my hands; draw ye the treaty at your pleasure, and I will sign it; but beware of the moment, when I shall recover my power, for with that moment, your treaty shall be waste paper.’”
The First Barbary War, 1801-1805, was America’s first war after the Revolution.
The Second Barbary War, 1815, gave rise to the Marine Anthem:
“From the halls of Montezuma to the shores of Tripoli.”
The curved Marine sword is from the confiscated Muslim scimitars, called “mamluke” swords.
Marines were called “leathernecks” for the wide leather straps worn around their necks to prevent being beheaded.
Sura 47:4 states: “When you meet the infidel in the battlefield, strike off their heads.”
Francis Scott Key, nine years before he wrote the Star-Spangled Banner, wrote a song to the same tune to commemorate the victory over the Muslim Barbary Pirates.
He titled his song, “When the Warrior Returns from the Battle Afar,” published in Boston’s Independent Chronicle, Dec. 30, 1805:
In conflict resistless each toil they endur’d
Till their foes shrunk dismay’d from the war’s desolation:
And pale beamed the Crescent, its splendor obscur’d
By the light of the Star-Spangled Flag of our nation.
Where each flaming star gleamed a meteor of war,
And the turban’d head bowed to the terrible glare.
Then mixt with the olive the laurel shall wave
And form a bright wreath for the brow of the brave.