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.
and vegetables and discussed the best way to deal with the dangerous new bashaw.8 In the plan they concocted, the American consul had seen a chance both to right Hamet’s personal injustices and to solve America’s problems once and for all. Captain Eaton—for this venture he planned to abandon his consul’s garb and don his military uniform—wrote to Madison that he wanted “to attack the usurper by land, while our operations are going on by sea.” It would be a military mission, with the goal of
Constellation to intervene, he wrote to James Madison, “Government may as well send out quaker meeting-houses to float in these seas as frigates.”4 The words were damning. This was no “close and vigorous blockade,” as ordered by the secretary of the navy.5 Although American ships could destroy them in a fight, the elusive pirate boats still interfered with American commerce. As a Tunisian minister warned William Eaton, “Though a fly in a man’s throat will not kill him, it will make him vomit.”6
MORRIS ON PATROL, AT LAST For a grand total of five weeks, commencing May 22, 1803, Morris did manage to watch over the enemy’s harbor. Together with the frigates John Adams and Adams and the sloop Enterprise, the USS New York patrolled the outer harbor at Tripoli. There were several skirmishes during that time, including one where the New York delivered more damage by friendly fire to the rigging of the John Adams than to the pirate ships. Though the great American warships engaged in sporadic
peacefully in his bed in 1833. President Thomas Jefferson spent his retirement at his beloved home in Monticello, where both his wife and daughter Polly were buried. With his health declining, he was bedridden in the late spring and early summer of 1826. Seized by a severe fever on July 3, Jefferson realized that his death was imminent but was determined to hold on until the following day—the fiftieth anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence. With his family gathered
should prefer the obtaining of it by war.” In response to events on the Barbary Coast, Jefferson, in 1801, had dispatched a small U.S. Navy squadron to the Mediterranean. For the next four years, he responded to circumstances, expanding the fleet to a much larger naval presence. In the end, thanks to the bold leadership of men like Preble and Decatur and Eaton and O’Bannon, military force had helped regain national honor. Even the Federalists, who liked little that Jefferson did, came to accept