Thomas Jefferson and the Tripoli Pirates: The Forgotten War That Changed American History
Brian Kilmeade, Don Yaeger
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.
unwelcome encounter with a Barbary force, this one a small Tunisian ship manned by pirates. They proved respectful of Cathcart’s credentials, although he had his “trunks tumbled” and the boarders helped themselves to his wine and foodstuffs. Mrs. Cathcart and her daughter had been terrified at the appearance of a man in their cabin wielding a saber, but the Tunisian employed the weapon, Cathcart reported, “not with any intention to hurt any person but merely to cut twine & other ligatures which
Proper.” Now that he had firsthand knowledge of the situation, he offered his advice for the future: “Keep constantly four or six Frigates in the Mediterranean, without that, there is never any security for our commerce.”8 With little return for his diplomacy thus far, Dale headed to Tripoli, where he would encounter the most difficult leader of all. Dale hoped to resolve matters with the Tripolitans. If he could not, this time he would be authorized to use force to contain the enemy, giving
scheme.”9 For years Consul Eaton had been making a persuasive case for ships in the Mediterranean. He had called for force, and he had been right. Jefferson knew he had to listen to this new idea, but there was no denying that it was a brash departure from all earlier strategies, so he was determined to act prudently and wait for the right moment. As 1801 ended, Jefferson and Madison conducted business as usual in the nation’s capital, publicly looking to get the use of force for a blockade
had bungled again. Had he held on a few hours longer, he might have been able to sail his ship off the reef. Instead, he had once again been part of an unnecessary surrender. Now in the full possession of the Tripolitans, the Philadelphia had become a prize of which the bashaw could be well and truly proud. The second prong of Preble’s strategy—the attack on Tripoli—had gone terribly wrong. CHAPTER 12 By the Cover of Darkness To strike [our flag] to any foe was mortifying, but to yield to an
politics. Bashaw Yusuf had declared war on America by the absurd act of chopping down an American flagstaff. Thomas Jefferson, as president of the first democracy of the modern era, responded in a manner that he, as one of the great political philosophers of his or any time, thought right. Today, the war’s military legacy cannot be ignored. It saw the emergence of the U.S. Navy as a force to be reckoned with in foreign seas. It saw the American flag planted for the first time in victory on