Jefferson's War: America's First War on Terror 1801–1805
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Author Joseph Wheelan has marvelously captured the story of America’s war against the Barbary pirates, our first war against terror and the nations that support it. The Barbary pirates, a Muslim enemy from Tripoli, attacked European and American merchant shipping with impunity. Jefferson ordered the U.S. Navy to Tripoli in 1801 to repel "force with force." The Barbary War was also a proving ground for such young officers as William Bainbridge, Stephen Decatur, Isaac Hull, and David Porter key players in the impending War of 1812 against Great Britain.
livelihoods. By the early seventeenth century, the Barbary corsairs were raiding every western Mediterranean Christian shore with impunity and roving the Atlantic as far north as Iceland. Before the pirate ships took aim on Europe, the theater of the long war between the Ottoman and Holy Roman empires shifted from the gates of Vienna to the western Mediterranean. The Ottomans had been invited into Algiers in the sixteenth century to drive out the Spanish troops sent by Ferdinand and Cardinal
chairman, Thomas Fitzsimons of Pennsylvania, read a resolution recommending a six-frigate naval force. The debate lasted a month, with James Madison, the Republicans’ point man and Jefferson’s closest confidant, leading the navy opponents, who were Southerners for the most part. Notably absent was Jefferson, who had resigned from Washington’s Cabinet and left Philadelphia a month earlier with all his possessions, bound for Monticello and retirement—but only temporary retirement, as events would
faith of treaties, on the rights and laws of human nature! You have shown to your countrymen that the enemy cannot meet bravery and skill united. In proving to them that our past condescensions were from a love of peace, not a dread of them, you have deserved well of your country, and have merited the high esteem and consideration of which I have now the pleasure of assuring you. Sterett’s promotion, however, ran aground on the Naval Reduction Act, which had left the Navy only nine
Broke and ill, he wanted to go home. His post was “intolerable abuse and personal vexation,” to no lasting purpose. He had wasted four years in Tunis. All the consuls were unhappy, even Cathcart in his exile in Leghorn, far from any Barbary ruler. A Barbary consul, he groused, had to put up with humiliation, isolation, threats to life and limb, and “every species of insolence & degradation that a fertile brain’d Mohammetan can invent to render the life of a christian superlatively miserable ...
address’s brief nod to foreign affairs was decidedly unhawkish: “Peace, commerce & honest friendship with all nations, entangling alliances with none.” Jefferson was more intent on healing the still-raw wounds of the unsurpassedly vituperous recent presidential campaign, celebrated by the victorious Republicans as the “Revolution of 1800.” “We are all federalists, we are all republicans,” he had declared in a soft voice that barely carried beyond the front row of the Senate chamber; his aversion