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The CorpsMeriwether LewisThree Pests and a Yoke
Barbary Bullies
Lifting the Yoke
 

Jefferson's War

Page 9 of 10

Topical Summary: Background & sources — Inevitable drollery — John Adams: Pay for peace — Yusuf Karamanli of Tripoli — Sundry presents on demand — The Intelligencer's pledge — Orders from Yusuf — Consequences — Yusuf promises war — Outrage at home — Jefferson's "squadron of observation" — USS Philadelphia — Tripoli's brand of warfare — Lieutenant Bainbridge's humiliation — Bad Times in the Barbary States.

beyond his astute summary of the varied qualifications and political loyalties of the American army's officers, which we have in his own hand, history has left us no more than a few minor details concerning Meriwether Lewis's day-to-day responsibilities during his twenty-three-month tenure as the president's secretary. Of course, Jefferson's personal understanding of the Middle East and the Barbary States reached back to 1784 at least, and considering his reading habits, his personal library, and his astuteness as a statesman and philosopher, it is reasonable to suppose that he shared with Lewis as much of his background on the subject as circumstances demanded and time allowed. For our purposes, there are two major information sources from which we may sketch a detailed impression of the Barbary War from Lewis's perspective that might have justified an epithet such as "the Mahometant yoke." One of them comprised the first two of Jefferson's Annual Messages to Congress. The other was Washington City's tri-weekly newspaper, The National Intelligencer (Figure 1), in which not only were the Messages published, but also some of the ancillary documents that Jefferson provided Congressmen to enhance their understanding of the issues raised by the unexpected threat and ensuing conflict.

We shall enter the story at the point where John Adams and Thomas Jefferson were directed by President George Washington to deal with a specific problem on the Barbary Coast. It seems reasonable to suppose that Jefferson would have filled Lewis in on the substance of their experiences too.1

Inevitable Drollery

following the tentative and unrequited post-Revolutionary efforts to establish workable U.S. relations with the Barbary States — Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, and Tripoli — and after the resolutions of the minor Moroccan and Algerian crises in 1784-85, John Adams had an unexpected encounter in 1786 with Abdrahaman, "a universal and perpetual Ambassador" from Tripoli.2 Abdramahan knew a great deal about the young United States, and acknowledged that it was a very great country. But, he told Adams bluntly, "Tripoli is at War with it." Adams, with gentlemanly restraint, answered that he had never heard of that. Nevertheless, said His Excellency, "there must be a Treaty of Peace." War was the only alternative. "The Turks and Africans were the souvereigns of the Mediterranean," Adams continued, quoting Abdramahan, "and there could be no navigation there nor Peace without Treaties of Peace. . . . America must treat with Tripoli and then with Constantinople and then with Algiers and Morocco." The ambassador was "more ready and eager to treat than I was as he probably expected to gain more by the Treaty," Adams observed. He ended his account of the meeting with a mixture of dismay and amusement. It was "very inconsistent with the Dignity of your Character and mine, but the Ridicule of it was real and the Drollery inevitable. How can We preserve our Dignity in negotiating with Such Nation? And who but a Petit Maitre [a fop or fool] would think of Gravity upon such an occasion."3 He simply couldn't make himself take the Barbary satraps seriously.

As a pragmatist, Adams was convinced that the only viable course of action for the United States was to purchase treaties — to buy peace — because all European countries did so, and because he believed that American citizens would not foot the bills for a war, and for that reason Congress would not authorize one. To Jefferson, however, the idea of paying for peace was repugnant. War was inevitable. At length he presented a proposal to Congress outlining "Means which the Congress may make use of, in order to force the Regencies of Barbary to make peace with them."4 His plan drew no comment, perhaps because it was ill-considered. He recommended treatment of the Barbary States on their own terms — to sell captured Turks on the slave market at Malta, for example. Furthermore, he acknowledged the Ottoman sultan at Constantinople as the ruler of the regencies, when in fact the regents had been ignoring or defying the Porte since the end of the 16th century, except when it was obviously to their advantage to acquiesce.

Payments for Peace

yusuf Karamanli, the bashaw of Tripoli, was ambitious. He quarreled with his father, murdered one of his two brothers and, in 1790, usurped the office of bashaw5 that rightly belonged to the other. Determined to increase the power of Tripoli to equal that of the other three Barbary States, he negotiated a treaty with the United States in 1796. Treaties of "peace and friendship" were signed with Morocco in 1786 and Algeria in 1795; U.S. Consul Joel Barlow signed one with Tunisia in 1797. Tripoli signed a Treaty of Friendship and Amity with the United States in 1796. From the American perspective, the main purpose of each of those treaties was to insure that American merchant ships plying the Mediterranean Sea would be safe from attacks by pirates from the four Barbary states. To the governors of those states, however, a treaty was a flexible weapon calculated to force "Christian" nations to send representatives to each of them, whom the beys, deys and bashaws would systematically manipulate into giving them cash, personal gifts, and naval supplies from their respective countries. The naval supplies could be used to strengthen the terrorists fleets of corsairs, as pirate ships were called, and the noose of intrigue and intimidation was complete.

Karamanli spelled out his demands in Article 10 of his treaty (editorial emphases added):

The money and presents demanded by the Bey of Tripoli as a full and satisfactory consideration on his part and on the part of his subjects for this treaty of perpetual peace and friendship are acknowledged to have been recieved by him previous to his signing the same, according to a reciept which is hereto annexed, except such part as is promised on the part of the United States to be delivered and paid by them on the arrival of their Consul in Tripoly, of which part a note is likewise hereto annexed. And no presence of any periodical tribute or farther payment is ever to be made by either party.6

Figure 1

Truth Only

announcement

for ten years, beginning with its first issue on October 31, 1800, the four-page, tri-weekly National Intelligencer and Washington Advertiser of Washington Ciity, edited by the high-minded ex-Philadelphian Samuel Harrison Smith, served as the semiofficial outlet for the administration's official papers and Congressional debates, verbatim. Jefferson's annual addresses were printed in it, along with the letters, reports and other documents that the president had given to Congress at the time his speech was read.

The circulation of the National Intelligencer during its early years is unknown, but at the turn of the new century the average run for the most popular newspapers was about six or seven hundred per issue. However, each copy was normally read by many additional readers, especially in coffee houses, taverns, and in "reading rooms" that maintained files of newspapers from all parts of the country.

At that time, when newspapers commonly depended upon one another for news outside the region served by any single paper, the National Intelligencer quickly became the primary source for objective, up-to-date reports of political news from Washington. It was Jefferson's only direct link with the people.10

The first mention of Tripoli appeared in the January 3, 1801 issue, with the report that the House of Representatives had recommended a budget to continue the hiring of consuls to be stationed in each of the four Barbary States. The first references to the threat of open conflict with any of the States were contained in several documents published in the National Intelligencer on May 29, 1801.

In the Receipt — merely "on account of the peace concluded with the Americans" — Karamanli specifically demanded, up front, the equivalent of 40,000 Spanish dollars, and "presents" consisting of thirteen gold, silver, and "pinsbach" watches; three diamond seal rings, another of sapphire, and one with a watch in it; 140 "piques of cloth"; and four ankle-length brocade garments called caftans.7 Presumably those items were for the bashaw himself and his nearest associates. Jussuf, the "Bey whom God Exalt," and Joel Barlow both signed the Receipt.

The "exception" was a Note appended to the treaty, which stipulated that when the Ameri-can consul resumed his residency at Tripoli he was to present the bey with the equiva-lent of 12,000 more Spanish dollars, and "naval stores" consisting of five 8-inch braided rope hawsers; three 10-inch braided rope cables; 25 barrels of tar, 25 of pitch, and 10 of rosin; 500 pine and 500 oak boards; 10 masts; 12 yard-arms; 50 bolts of canvas; and 4 anchors. The Note ends with a confirmation of Article 10: "And no farther demand of tributes, presents or payments shall ever be made." It was signed and dated at Tripoli on June 3, 1796, and ratified by Congress on June 10, 1797.8

That should have been the end of it, but when Consul Cathcart arrived in Tripoli on April 5, 1799, he learned that some of the promised naval stores had been either lost or stolen en route, and Karamanli was angry about it. When the consul offered to pay him $18,000 in cash, the equivalent value of the missing goods, Karamanli stepped up the price a notch, demanding also the brig9 that he said William O'Brien, the U.S. consul to Algeria, had verbally promised him at the time the treaty was signed. Cathcart stiffened. He knew that extortion was the name of the game, that dissimulation and intimidation — lying and bullying — were the usual tactics, and that Karamanli and his cohorts considered themselves entitled to revise a treaty at will, for cause. (Cicero was right — pirates are faithless, and their contracts are worthless.) But Yusuf backed down and settled for Cathcart's offer.

Consequences

ome May of 1800, Yusuf was in a snit again. On the 25th he wrote a mincing letter to President John Adams, ending it with a weasel-warning:

You will . . . endeavor to satisfy us by a good manner of proceeding. We on our part will correspond with you, with equal friendship, as well in words as deeds. But if only flattering words are meant without performance, every one will act as he finds convenient. We beg a speedy answer, without neglect of time, as a delay on your part cannot but be prejudicial to your interests. In the mean time we wish you happiness.

But what was the problem? The Bashaw thought he had ample evidence that the United States had recently sent expensive presents to Algiers and Tunis, and he was sorry he had settled for that measly $18,000. But that wasn't all.

Why do not the United States send me a voluntary present? They have acted with me as if they had done everything against their will. . . . I have the mortification to be informed that they have now sent a ship load of stores to Tunis, besides promising a present of jewels, and to me thay have sent compliments. But I have cruisers as well as Tunis. . . . I am an independent prince as well as the Bashaw of Tunis, and can hurt the commerce of any nation as much as the Tunisians.

The bashaw was mistaken, Cathcart replied. The U.S. had given nothing to either Tunis or Algiers that was not specified in their treaties. Furthermore, no American consul was empowered to give presents of any kind to anyone, "it being incompatible with our form of government, the funds of the United States not being at the disposal of the president until an appropriation is made by acts of the legislature." Yusuf had no comment.

In that same issue of the National Intelligencer appeared an extract of a later letter from the consul at Tripoli.11 Under the dateline October 18, 1801, Cathcart recounted highlights of another meeting to which Karamanli had recently summoned him. As if to confirm old Abdramahan's asseveration, the bashaw pointed out that in order for peace to reign, "all nations pay me, and so must the Americans." Cathcart patiently replied, "we have already paid you all we owe you and are nothing in arrears." Yusuf countered, according to the consul, that America had indeed paid him for the peace, but had given him nothing to maintain the peace. Cathcart contended that "the terms of our treaty were to pay him the stipulated cash, stores, &c. in full[fillment?] of all demands for ever." He patiently reminded the bashaw that the American government had faithfully met those stipulations. The Tripolitan was unmoved. He had recently seen an American frigate moored at Algiers, presumably to unload more presents. "Why do they neglect me in their donations?" he scolded. "Let them give me a stipulated sum annually, and I will be reasonable as to the amount." The consul waded in again, but to no avail. "Paid I will be, one way or other," snarled the bashaw. Then he delivered the ultimatum he had been nursing.

I now desire you to inform your government that I will wait six months for an answer to my letter to the President [of May 15, 1800]; that if it did not arrive in that period, and if it was not satisfactory, if it did arrive, that I will declare War in form against the United States. Inform your government how I have served the Swedes,12 who concluded their treaty since yours; let them know that the French, English, and Spaniards, have always sent me presents from time to time to preserve their peace, and if they do not do the same, I will order my cruisers to bring their vessels in whenever they can find them.

Then he turned to his foreign minister, Sidi Mohammed Dghies, and informed him (in French) that his conversation with the consul was not private, and he wished the whole world to know of it. Furthermore, he whispered to Dghies that he hoped the United States government would continue to ignore him, since "six or eight vessels . . . would amount to a much larger sum than he ever expected to get from the United States for remaining at peace."

Cathcart, pretending he had not understood the bashaw, pressed him to state his expectations . "I expect," the governor told the consul,

when he sends his answers they will be such as will empower you to conclude [a treaty] with me immediately — if they are not, I will capture your vessels; and as you have fequently informed me that your instructions do not authorize you to give me a dollar, I will there[fore] not inform you what I expect until you are empowered to negotiate with me. But you may inform your President, that if he is disposed to pay me for my friendship, I will be moderate in my demands.

"The Bashaw then rose from his seat," Cathcart reported, "and went out of the room, leaving me to make what comment I thought proper upon his extraordinary conduct." The consul summarily rejected those "degrading, humiliating and dishonorable terms," and hastened to convey them to the president and the secretary of the navy. He also circulated a letter to all other US. agents and consuls, urging them to warn all American merchants and masters of vessels that although the bashaw had set April 22 as the end of his waiting period, the Mediterranean Sea would not be safe for them after March 22, 1801, "as these faithless people generally commit depredations before the time or period allowed is expired."

Americans' main fear was that the other three Barbary States were lurking beyond the horizon, just waiting to see what the outcome would be with Tripoli. Consul William Eaton described the Bey Hamuda of Tunis as "a man of good understanding and a mild character; but he is artful and avaricious," seldom assaulting a Christian without first conceiving a pretext; and never in the face of superior force and audacity. Eaton regretted that he didn't have the opportunity to impress upon Hamuda a clear understanding of the strength and energy of the government of the United States.13

Richard O'Brien, the U.S. Consul at Algiers, formerly captain of the merchantman Dauphin out of Philadelphia, had gained firsthand experience with Algerian pirates during his eleven years as a slave following the capture of his ship off the coast of Portugal in July of 1785. In 1802 he reported that the Bashaw of Tripoli had claimed never to have "made reprisals on any nation, or declared war but in consequence of their promises not being fulfilled, or for want of due respect being shewn him."14 Clearly, for a pirate the outcome was open-ended.

Outrage

reports such as these inspired outrage and disgust from all quarters of Jefferson's administration, from the electorate, and especially from U.S. consuls in the Europe and the Middle East. William Eaton wrote to Secretary of State John Marshall, vigorously deploring the U.S. government's willingness to kowtow to the pirates: "Genius of My Country! How are thou prostrate! Has thou not yet one son whose soul revolts, whose nerves convulse, blood vessels burst, and heart indignant swells at thoughts of such debasement?"15 Ten days later, the editor of a deist newspaper in New York City expressed a somewhat more optimistic opinion: "The day we expect will soon come when the great nation will chastise the African pirates, and open the Mediterranean to all nations, without paying fees or tributes to the petty tyrants of Algiers, Tunis, and Tripoli."16 In September of 1801 Eaton dished out another jeremiad in a letter to a friend in Washington:

Why . . . should we come, cap in hand, and kiss the feet of these pitiful savages? — if once paying and once stooping would ensure us a permanent peace, we might submit for once; but this is not enough; these pirates are insatiable as the grave, and if we continue to countenance and feed their pretensions, the revenue of the United States will be inadequate to satisfy their avarice. . . . Until we alter our mode of negociation here, these Beys will consider as the result of fear what they should be taught to consider an act of grace.17

Strong words strengthened as the insults festered. Consul-General Humphreys wrote to the Secretary of State in April of 1801: "To chastise that haughty but contemptible power [Tripoli] which now dares first to insult us by its aggression would certainly serve, not only as a salutary example to the other piratical states, but it would produce an almost incalculable effect in elevating our national character in the estimation of all Europe."18 Anybody could see that.

A "squadron of observation"

Figure 2

USS Philadelphia

the uss philadelphia at tetuan, morocco
Detail from
"View of Tetuan, on the Coast of Morocco"

Featuring the USS Philadelphia on patrol, 1803.
Stipple engraving by J. Wells (fl. 1792-1809),
after a drawing by "P.S.O."
From the London, England monthly,The Naval Chronicle, vol. 10 (1803).

on May 15, 1801, Cathcart wrote to the secretary of state to advise him that at a quarter past two o'clock in the afternoon of the previous day, Yusuf Karamanli's janissaries had "effected the grand atchievement, and our flag-staff was chopped down six feet from the ground, and left reclining on the terrace. Thus ends the first act of this tragedy." Sarcastically, he exclaimed, "I hope the catastrophe may be happy."19 Just as he had promised not quite seven months before, Yusuf had declared war "in form" on the United States.20 The news broke slowly over American readers. Cathcart's "circular" letter of two short paragraphs was reprinted in September, 1801, in the monthly Lady's Magazine and Musical Repository. On November 5 it appeared in the weekly National Magazine; or, Cabinet of the United States, briefly a Washington City competitor of the National Intelligencer.

Meanwhile, the president had long since taken action. On the twenty-first of May he wrote to Yusuf, politely informing him that the U.S. government had "found it expedient to detach a squadron of observation into the Mediterranean Sea, to superintend the safety of our commerce there, and to exercise our seamen in nautical duties." On June 1, three of the four frigates remaining active in the American Navy — the President, the Philadelphia and the Essex — plus the schooner Enterprise, their combined firepower amounting to more than 124 long guns and carronades,21 set sail for the Barbary Coast. By the end of July, Cathcart was able to confirm their arrival: "Tripoli is now blockaded by the said American flotilla, and . . . every ship whatever, which shall attempt to enter the port, will be treated conformably to the laws of nations." That meant that any ship that defied the blockade would be subject to seizure, and its cargo would be confiscated.22 His decision, Jefferson told Congress in his first annual message, had been "seasonable and salutary."

It was perhaps difficult for Americans on the far side of the Atlantic to understand that a declaration of war by one of the Barbary States by no means carry the same consequences as one with Spain, England, or France. "By some means or other," Cathcart mused, "my countrymen in general have imbibed a kind of terrific idea of these people." Yusuf's squadron of "cruisers" — his corsairs — were hardly terrifying.

Naval "Warfare"

Figure 3


"Burning of the Frigate
Philadelphia in the Harbor of Tripoli,
February 16, 1804"

Thomas Moran (1829-1901)
Oil on canvas (1897)
Original size, 60" x 42"

under cover of darkness on February 16, 1804, Lieutenant Stephen Decatur crept into the bay of Tripoli and boarded the Philadelphia with a force of nearly 70 volunteers, set fire to her, thus robbing the Tripolitans of the pleasure of At left foreground is the Tripolitan ketch23 that the US schooner Enterprise had captured on November 23, 1803, and Decatur had renamed Intrepid, under full sail before an offshore breeze, heading back to the Enterprise for safety.

The Philadelphia's surgeon, Dr. Cowdry, who was allowed the freedom to care for the captive crew, observed that "the Turks appeared much disheartened at the loss of their frigate." Their carpenters were repairing it, and it was being fitted out to be the most powerful warship in their fleet.

despite Yusuf Karamanli's promise not to seize any American vessels until after the 40-day extension of his amnesty expired, American merchant-men persisted in tempting fate. Therefore, on June 2, 1801, Cathcart wrote to Consul Thomas Appleton at Leghorn, Italy, enumerating the possible consequences. He noted, however, that Karamanli's naval force was pitifully inadequate for serious warfare. "The whole force of Tripoli," he said, "consists of seven sail of vessels, carrying 106 fours [four-pounder guns], sixes and nines, and 840 men, very badly equipped. They have more vessels, but have not people enough to man them."

The flagship of the Tripolitan squadron was a captured American-built ship under the command of the Scottish-American renegade, Peter Lisle, alias Murad Rais, who was, said Cathcart, "a reputed coward; seldom goes near a vessel that looks warm [heavily armed]."24 For comparison, the Algerine navy consisted of only "five vessels from 4 to 34 guns, and one 44 building."25 Early in January of 1802, James Simpson pointed out that the Moroccan navy was even less of a threat. "At this time," he wrote, "Muley Soliman has not a single vessel of war afloat; at Salee two frigates of about 20 guns are buiilding, and may probably be launched next Spring, but he is in want of many stores for them ere they can be sent to sea. At Teautan, they have lately patched up an old half galley, to carry two bow guns and fifty men, but, if I am to judge from her appearance last May, she is scarce fit to go to sea. This is all the navy."26

European and American regulations concerning insurance coverage played into the scoflaws' hands. Venture capitalists who backed ships, crews and cargoes had to protect their investments with insurance. But if a merchant captain resisted a piratical assault with force, that was an act of war, which would invalidate the insurance policy. Given those facts, the pirates' brazen assaults were fully adequate when they worked. Cathcart, addressing naval vessels, not merchantmen, described them:

Their mode of attack is first to fire a broadside, and then to set up a great shout, in order to intimidate their enemy — they then board you, if you let them, with as many men as they can, armed with pistols, large and small knives, and probably a few with blunderbusses. If you beat them off once, they seldom risk a second encounter, and three well directed broad-sides will insure you a complete victory.27

In early December of 1800, several American magazines and newspapers published a summary of the pirates' spoliations during the previous two years. A total of at least 192 ships belonging to merchants from Naples, Sicily, Malta, Greece, England, France, Holland and Denmark had been captured by Algierian, Tunisian, and Tripolitan corsairs. Tripoli alone had captured 24 sail of Swedes. All of the bottoms and cargoes, collectively valued at millions of dollars, had been confiscated, and their crews condemned to slavery. The Danish governent was even forced to pay the Dey of Algiers a total of $100,000 just for causing an Algerine corsair to be wrecked on a shore near Tunis.28

Indignities

Figure 3

Humiliated!

portrait of lieutenant william bainbridgeLieutenant William Bainbridge, USN
(1774-1833) at age 24
Miniature
Artist unknown

ainbridge's first command was the brig Norfolk during the naval Quasi-War with France in 1798-1800. In 1801 he was given command of the frigate Philadelphia, which ran aground on a reef while chasing a corsair through Tripoli Bay. He and his crew of 307 orricers and men were captured, and spent the rest of the First Barbary War as prisoners of Yusuf Bashaw Karamanli. Tripolitans seized the wrecked frigate and commenced refurbishing it into a warship of their own. Bainbridge suffered much criticism for his conduct in that incident, but redeemed himself in the War of 1812 as captain of the 44-gun frigate USS Constitution (Figure 4) by sinking the 38-gun British HMS Java.

william Bainbridge (1774-1833) was 26, the same age as Lewis, in 1800 when he was given command of the 24-gun sloop George Washington, which became the first American man-of-war to enter the Mediterranean and dock at Algiers. Thoughtless-ly, he dropped anchor within range of the harbor fortress's cannons, and before he could weigh anchor to depart, the Dey forced him to agree to carry a million-dollar cargo of gifts to the Grand Seignior of the Ottoman Empire, threatening, in case of refusal, "war to the United States, and slavery to the officers and crew of the George Washington." The voyage, the dey insisted, was to be considered as a favor granted by the United States. Young Bainbridge was in a tight spot. "We had only to choose between compliance and slavery," one of the ship's officers recalled.29 On October 15, 1800, Bainbridge's Washington set sail — under Algier's green flag for protection from other pirates — and headed eastward on a 1,600-mile forced voyage. They wended their way among the Greek islands in the Aegean Sea, past the Dardenelles and through the Sea of Marmara to Constantinople (today, Istanbul) on the Bosphorus Strait. The Washington's crowded decks carried one hundred male and female Negro slaves and a menagerie of wild animals from the heart of Africa; her hold was loaded with unnamed "funds and regalia."

Bainbridge bluffed his way past the suspicious Turkish watchdogs at the Dardanelles and arrived at Constantinople on November 9. The guards in the harbor there had never heard of a country called the United States. Bainbridge explained that it was part of the New World discovered by Columbus, which satisfied his inquisitors and permitted him to take a berth at the docks.

The young captain's personal humiliation was deepened as soon as news of his unscheduled and, from the Amerian government's point of view, altogether illegal voyage reached Jefferson's Secretary of State, James Madison. Madison wrote to Consul James O'Brien at Algiers: "Whatever temporary effects it may have had favorable to our interests, the indignity is of so serious a nature, that it is not impossible that it may be deemed necessary on a fit occasion to revive the subject."30 Evidently it never came up again.

Of course, the blustering Barbary princes had their own problems. Yusuf Karamanli, who had quarreled with his father, murdered one of his two brothers and usurped the throne that rightly belonged to the other, was unpopular with his people. The ravages of black death and the effects of drought and starvation made his position still more precarious. Morocco's Muley Soliman had to put down a rebellion led by his nephew, in the process reportedly killing 8,000 of the rebel soldiers while taking only 200 prisoners.31 Worse yet, Muley had marched his army south through Morocco in late 1800, unaware from the outset that many of his men were already infected with the plague, which they unknowingly spread among their own people on their way through the land.

--Joseph A. Mussulman, 11/2011

1. The full story of the conflicts between the United States and the four Barbary states is well told from various perspectives in the following books: Gardner W. Allen, Our Navy and the Barbary Corsairs (Boston: Houghton, Mifflin, 1905); Robert J. Allison, The Crescent Obscured: The United States and the Muslim World 1776-1815 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1995); Joseph Wheelan, Jefferson's War: America's First War on Terror 1801-1805 (New York: Carroll & Graf, 2003); Richard Zacks, The Pirate Coast: Thomas Jefferson, the First Marines, and the Secret Mission of 1805 (New York: Hyperion, 2005).

2. There is also a city named Tripoli in Lebanon, in the Levant — the countries at the eastern end of the Mediterranean. The Tripoli referred to in this essay is the capitol of the largest and mostly desert country in North Africa, now known as Libya. As early as 8,000 years BCE it was the homeland of Neolithic agricultural tribes who called themselves Berbers. In 1800 the Ottoman regency consisted of Tripolitania, Cyreniaca to the east bordering on Egypt, and Fezzan, a desert region bordering both on the south.

3. Lester J. Cappon, ed., The Adams-Jefferson Letters (2 vols.; Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1959), 1:121-23.

4. The Papers of Thomas Jefferson Digital Edition, ed. Barbara B. Oberg and J. Jefferson Looney (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, Rotunda, 2008). Canonical URL: http://rotunda.upress.virginia.edu/founders/default.xqy?keys=TSJN-print-01-18-02-0139-0002 (accessed 20 Dec 2009). Original source: Main Series, Volume 18 (4 November 1790–24 January 1791). During the four-year war with Tripoli (1801-1805), Jefferson abandoned the measure-for-measure reaction, and rigorously observed the principles that he had established in the Constitution.

5. Bashaw, later spelled pasha, was a Turkish title for a provinicial governor. Also bey and dey, essentially synonyms, were variously applied. Bobba Mustapha was the Dey of Algiers; Hamuda was the Bey of Tunis; Morocco, not an Ottoman regency but an absolute monarchy, was headed by the emperor or Sultan, Muley Soliman.

6. "The Barbary Treaties 1786-1836," in The Avalon Project: Documents in Law, History and Diplomacy (Yale Law School: Lillian Goldman Law Library), "Treaty of Peace and Friendship, Signed at Tripoli November 4, 1796," http://avalon.law.yale.edu/18th_century/bar1796t.asp (Accessed 12 August 2009).

7. Barlow's translation is open to interpretation. "Pinsbach," a word of unknown meaning now, was Barlow's transcription of the Arabic word tumb~k, an alloy of copper and zinc. Legal historian Hunter Miller's notes on the treaty translation are to be found at http://avalon.law.yale.edu/18th_century/bar1796n.asp (Accessed 12 August 2009). The noun piqué (pee-kay) denotes both a stiff, patterned cotton fabric and a shirt or other garment made of piqué. OED Online (2009), sense 5.

8. Both Receipt and Note may be seen at http://avalon.law.yale.edu/
18th_century/bar1796t.asp#art1 (accessed 12 August 2009).

9. A brig is a two-masted vessel with three or four square sails on each (mailsail, topsail, topgallant sail, and sometimes a small "royal" squaresail). It also carries a small fore-and-aft sail to improve the vessel's maneuverability. The foremast is somewhat smaller than the mainmast. It also supports a jib sail, staysail, and flying jib, all attached to a long bowsprit.

10. Frank Luther Mott, American Journalism; A History, 1690-1960 (New York: Macmillan,, 1962), 176-77. William E. Ames, "The National Intelligencer: Washington's Leading Political Newspaper," Records of the Columbia Historical Society, Washington, D.C., Vol. 66/68 (Historical Society of Washington, D.C., 1966/1968), 73-74,159, 202-03. The advent of news services that could transmit information widely and instantaneously awaited the perfection of the electromagnetic telegraph in the late 1840s.

11. Jefferson had Karamanli's letter and Cathcart's commentary published in the National Intelligencer on January 6, 1802, along with various other documents illustrating the issues he brought up in his second annual address to Congress.

12. Yusuf Bashaw had recently declared war on Sweden, capturing several ships and imprisoning their crews, thereby forcing the Swedish authorities to to sign a treaty, pay a tribute of $250,000 including ransom for 131 captives, and guarantee Tripoli an annuity of $20,000 for an indefinite period.

13. "Extract of a letter from the American consul at Tunis" to a friend in Springfield, Massachusetts, National Intelligencer, September 23, 1801, p. 2.

14. Extract of a letter from Richard O'Brien dated May 12, 1800, accompanying the president's message to Congress of Dec. 8, 1801. National Intelligencer, January 6, 1802, p. 1.

15. Eaton to Marshall, Nov. 11, 1800, United States Navy, Office of Naval Records, Naval Documents Related to the United States Wars with the Barbary Powers (6 vols., Washington, DC, 1939-44), 1:397-98.

16. The Temple of Reason, Vol. 1, (November 22, 1800), p. 22.

17. Eaton to a friend in Springfield, Massachusetts; dateline Tunis, April 14, 1801. National Intelligencer, September 23, 1801, p. 1.

18. National Intelligencer, May 29, 1801, p. 1.

19. National Intelligencer, January 6, 1802, p. 2.

20. At the enc of the 18th century, a "declaration of war" was, in a literal sense, a ceremonial formality or courtesy dating from the early days of the Roman Empire.

21. Carronades, or "smasher" guns were light-weight, short-range anti-personnel weapons originally manufactured by the Carron Company of Scotland, and used on British ships during the American Revolution. It was just the weapon for defeating pirate boarding-parties before they left their corsairs. A carronade firing a 32-pound ball weighed less than 2,000 pounds, whereas a 32-pounder long gun would weigh over three tons. With its low muzzle velocity, a ball from a carronade could shatter a hole in the side of an enemy ship, with devastating effect from flying splinters. Carronades were made in various calibers to fire balls of from 12 to 68 lbs, or a deck-clearing keg containing several hundred musket balls. Royal Naval Museum, http://www.royalnavalmuseum.org/ (Accessed 16 December, 2009).

22. National Intelligencer, October 14, 1801, p. 3. Charles M. Wiltse, "Thomas Jefferson on the Law of Nations," American Journal of International Law, Vol 29, No. 1 (January 1935), 68-69.

23. The ketch was a common broad-beamed, two-masted vessel on the Mediterranean.

24. Leghorn, Italy, June 2, 1801; National Intelligencer, September 2, 1801, p. 3.

25. National Intelligencer, June 26, 1801, p. 3.

26. Salee, now Salle, Morocco, is a port on the Atlantic coast, 150 miles south of Gibraltar. Teautan, now Tetouan, is approximately 35 miles south of Gibraltar on the Mediterranean coast. A "half galley," maybe 130 feet in length, is powered by 125 oarsmen; a 160-feet-long "full galley" uses 250 oarsmen on 25 pairs of sweeps. Dateline Tangier, January 8, 1802; National Intelligencer, December 24, 1802, p. 1.

27. Cathcart to Thomas Appleton, Leghorn, June 2, 1801; National Intelligencer, September 2, 1801.

28. Salem (Massachusetts) Gazette, vol. 14, issue 972, December 12, 1800), p. 3. William Cathcart to Thomas Appleton, Washington City, June 2, 1801; National Intelligencer, September 2, 1801, p 3.

29. National Intelligencer, December 24, 1800, p. 3.

30. James Madison to William O'Brien, May 20, 1801; National Intelligencer, May 29, 1801, p. 1.

31. National Intelligencer, August 11, 1802, p. 2.

Funded in part by a grant from the National Park Service's Challenge Cost Share Program.

Barbary Bullies
Lifting the Yoke


 
From Discovering Lewis & Clark ®, http://www.lewis-clark.org © 1998-2014
by The Lewis and Clark Fort Mandan Foundation, Washburn, North Dakota.
Journal excerpts are from The Journals of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, edited by Gary E. Moulton
13 vols. (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1983-2001)