Originally Written September 11, 2010
My initial Comments:
While we spend time today remembering and praying for the families of those who lost loved ones on 9/11, I think we should also recognize that this runs deeper than one event. It really should serve as a wake up call to the clash of worldviews that we face. It is not a new clash – Thomas Jefferson faced it when he was forced to create the U.S. Navy to combat The Barbary Pirates (terrorists from the 16th – early 19th century) in the early 1800’s.
In response to the Barbary Pirates seizing American trading vessels of the coast of North Africa, unless the Unites States were to pay tribute or subsidies (bribes) for safe passage in trading routes:
In March 1785, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams went to negotiate with Tripoli's envoy to London, Ambassador Sidi Haji Abdrahaman (or Sidi Haji Abdul Rahman Adja). Upon inquiring "concerning the ground of the pretensions to make war upon nations who had done them no injury", the ambassador replied:
It was written in their Koran, 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 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. <span></span> <span></span>
Jefferson reported the conversation to Secretary of Foreign Affairs John Jay, who submitted the Ambassador's comments and offer to Congress. Jefferson argued that paying tribute would encourage more attacks. Although John Adams agreed with Jefferson, he believed that circumstances forced the U.S. to pay tribute until an adequate navy could be built. The U.S. had just fought an exhausting war, which put the nation deep in debt. Federalist and anti-federalist forces argued over the needs of the country and the burden of taxation. Jefferson's own Democratic-Republicans and anti-navalists believed that the future of the country lay in westward expansion, with Atlantic trade threatening to siphon money and energy away from the new nation on useless wars in the Old World.<span></span> The U.S. paid Algiers the ransom, and continued to pay up to $1 million per year over the next 15 years for the safe passage of American ships or the return of American hostages. Payments in ransom and tribute to the privateering states amounted to 20 percent of United States government annual revenues in 1800.
Jefferson continued to argue for cessation of the tribute, with rising support from George Washington and others. With the recommissioning of the American navy in 1794 and the resulting increased firepower on the seas, it became increasingly possible for America to refuse paying tribute, although by now the long-standing habit was hard to overturn.
Declaration of war and naval blockade
On Jefferson's inauguration as president in 1801, Yusuf Karamanli, the Pasha (or Bashaw) of Tripoli, demanded $225,000 from the new administration. (In 1800, Federal revenues totaled a little over $10 million.) Putting his long-held beliefs into practice, Jefferson refused the demand. Consequently, in May 1801, the Pasha declared war on the United States, not through any formal written documents but by cutting down the flagstaff in front of the U.S. Consulate. Algiers and Tunis did not follow their ally in Tripoli.
In response, Jefferson sent a group of frigates to defend American interests in the Mediterranean, and informed Congress. Although Congress never voted on a formal declaration of war, they did authorize the President to instruct the commanders of armed vessels of the United States to seize all vessels and goods of the Pasha of Tripoli "and also to cause to be done all such other acts of precaution or hostility as the state of war will justify."
The schooner USS Enterprise defeated the 14-gun Tripolitan corsair Tripoli after a fierce but one-sided battle on August 1, 1801.
In 1802, in response to Jefferson's request for authority to deal with the pirates, Congress passed "An act for the Protection of Commerce and seamen of the United States against the Tripolitan cruisers", authorizing the President to "... employ such of the armed vessels of the United States as may be judged requsite ... for protecting effectually the commerce and seamen thereof on the Atlantic ocean, the Medeterranean and adjoining seas."<span></span>
The American navy went unchallenged on the sea, but still the question remained undecided. Jefferson pressed the issue the following year, with an increase in military force and deployment of many of the navy's best ships to the region throughout 1802. USS Argus, USS Chesapeake, USS Constellation, USS Constitution, USS Enterprise, USS Intrepid, USS Philadelphia and USS Syren all saw service during the war under the overall command of Commodore Edward Preble. Throughout 1803, Preble set up and maintained a blockade of the Barbary ports and executed a campaign of raids and attacks against the cities' fleets.
My ending Comments:
The clash of worldview is still in place today. The only difference is our leaders today do not hold the same view that Jefferson and Adams did after they visited with Ambassador Sidi Haji Abdrahaman. In addition, these battles are no longer being waged on Foreign soil, they are being waged on our soil, in our courts and using our freedoms and constitution to implement Sharia Law into our Justice and Financial systems.
It was more black and white when the invasion, tributes, subsidies and bribes were simply due to trading routes and merchant ships Once it enters our courts, government institutions and utilizes our own freedoms against us, it is a much more difficult battle to fight than Jefferson had on his hands.
Remember – Washingtons administration agreed to pay the tributes to the Barbary Pirates – it was Jefferson who put an end to it. That gives me hope.