Hello. This is HistoryBee. In this video I’m going to talk about Thomas Jefferson and the Barbary Wars.
If I found an old coin while rummaging through an antique trunk abandoned in the attic of a historic home I just bought, I’d have to take it to a coin expert to have it examined for authenticity, value and origin. I would hope the inspector would flip that coin over and examine both sides. What we put in our minds is much more valuable than what we put in our pockets therefore we should carefully examine both sides or multiple sides of an issue. We used to be able to trust the media to present both sides for us, I guess, but no longer. It is our responsibility to do it. We have to own it. We can’t allow others to control the narrative for us. I say all this because much of our American history is being eroded by lies, misconceptions, and presumptions. History is not a one-sided coin. If we take it for granted it will soon be all gone and as the saying goes… “those who don’t know history are destined to repeat it.”
Thomas Jefferson and his Quran is an example of this.
204 years ago President James Madison approved the act of Congress purchasing Thomas Jefferson’s private library in an effort to restock the Library of Congress after it had been destroyed by fire during the War of 1812 with Britain. Among the 6,487 books that headed north to DC was Jefferson’s 1734 edition of the Quran. Much speculation ensued. Why would he have a copy of the Quran? Was he curious about a variety of religious perspectives? Was he trying to understand the religion of some of his slaves? It is estimated that 20 percent of the enslaved men and women brought to America were Muslims. Thomas Jefferson’s two-volume personal copy of George Sale’s 1734 translation of the Qur’an is now in the collections of the Library of Congress. Smithsonian’s religion curator, Peter Manseau, states in his article, “Why Thomas Jefferson Owned a Qur’an” that this “highlights a forgotten aspect of religious diversity in early America.” Is it that simple? Or, is there another reason that Jefferson owned this book that perhaps the liberal persuasion of today’s society does not want us to know? What is on the other side of the coin?
Over 200 years ago, the United States went to war with the Nation of Islam and Thomas Jefferson led the charge. It is known as the First Barbary War from 1801-1805.
Before we assume this was just a war between different religions, let’s look at both sides of the coin. Islam is not a religion. As explained by Dr. Bill Warner in his book entitled “The History of Islamic Slavery”, it is a political ideology. It has a total system of life. It has a social system, judicial system, and political system which includes the conquest and administration of territory.
Few know that between 1530 and 1780, 1.5 million Europeans and Americans were enslaved in Islamic North Africa. The people of the town of Baltimore in Ireland were all carried off by an Islamic Pirate raid in one night. Similar horrific accounts are explored in Linda Colley’s excellent book “Captives”. During the 1800s Muslim pirates were terrorizing the Mediterranean and large area of the North Atlantic. They attacked every ship in sight and held the crews for exorbitant ransoms. They subjected their hostages to barbaric treatment and torture. Those hostages wrote heart breaking letters home, begging for the ransom to be paid no matter how outlandish. After the Revolutionary War, America no longer had Royal Navy protection on the high seas of trade and became subject to those who controlled the waters. The infant United States had to decide whether it would stand or fall by free navigation of the seas.
The pirates who were the menace of the Mediterranean were from the Islamic nations of Tripoli, Tunis, Morocco, and Algiers of northern Africa. Together they were referred to as the Barbary Coast and they presented the new American Republic with a dangerous, expensive and unprovoked threat.
In 1784 Thomas Jefferson became America’s Minister to France. That same year the U.S. Congress sought to appease its Muslim adversaries the same way European nations did. Rather than engaging them in war, they paid bribes to the Barbary States. In July of 1785, Algerian pirates captured American ships, and the Dey of Algiers, which is the title of their governor, demanded $60,000 which was unheard of at the time. It was extortion and Thomas Jefferson angrily opposed any further payments. In fact, he went to Congress and proposed the formation of a coalition of allied nations who would work together to force the Islamic states to back off. Unfortunately, Congress was not interested in that plan and decided to pay the ransom.
In 1786, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams were seeking to clarify why these Muslim nations had so much hostility towards America when they had no previous contacts, so they met with Tripoli’s ambassador to Great Britain, Sidi Haji Abdul Rahman Adja. They asked why his nation attacked American ships and enslaved American citizens. What they learned disturbed them greatly. They reported that the Ambassador had answered that Islam “was founded on the Laws of their Prophet, that it was written in their Quran, that all nations who should not have acknowledged their authority were sinners, that it was their right and duty to make war upon them wherever they could be found, and to make slaves of all they could take as Prisoners, and that every Muslim who should be slain in Battle was sure to go to Paradise.”
Many notable American leaders, including George Washington warned that caving in was both wrong and would only embolden the enemy. Regardless of the premeditated violence on non-Muslim nations, the American government paid the Muslims millions of dollars in exchange for the safe passage of American ships or the return of American hostages for the following fifteen years. In fact the payments amounted to over twenty percent of the United States government annual revenues in 1800. The trend was set and so when Jefferson was sworn in as the third President of the United States in 1801, the Pasha of Tripoli sent him a note demanding the immediate payment of $25,000 a year for every year forthcoming. Jefferson was disgusted. He did not stay with the going trend. Things were about to change. “Jefferson told the Pasha that in no uncertain terms what he could do with his demand.” The Pasha responded by cutting down the flagpole at the American consulate and declared war on the United States. Tunis, Morocco, and Algiers immediately did the same.
Jefferson had enough and he didn’t mess around. He had watched his nation be browbeaten by “Islamic thuggery” long enough. It was time to meet “force with force.” Jefferson sent the navy to North Africa on patrol with instructions to enforce existing treaties and punish infractions of them. He did not inform Congress of his authorization of this mission until the fleet was too far away to recall. Commodore Edward Preble concentrated his ships with 168 guns in the harbor of Tangier, Morocco, causing them to abide the treaty. Two months later the frigate Philadelphia ran aground on a reef off Tripoli during a battle, and its 307 crewmen were taken prisoner. The pirates repaired the 36-gun ship to bulk up its fleet. Jefferson then sent Navy commander Stephen Decatur (Dee kay ter) to lead a team to destroy it. The American sailors’ and Marines’ superior training was evident as they mounted a daring raid on Tripoli’s tricky harbor and blew up the captured ship while also inflicting heavy damage on the city’s defenses. The Americans boarded the Philadelphia, killed the guards, burned it and escaped under heavy fire. Now despite these defeats of the pirate fleets it failed to bring the Pasha to the bargaining table, but Jefferson kept the pressure on him by authorizing a secret mission to take Tripoli’s second largest city, Derne. In April 1805 Marines marched in to capture Derne, planting the US flag. This is memorialized in the Marines’ Hymn reference to “the shores of Tripoli”. Finally, the Pasha cut a deal with the US. He released the prisoners and agreed to never kidnap Americans again. When Algiers and Tunis saw the brave new independent US had the will and might to strike back, they quickly abandoned their allegiance to Tripoli. The US Marine Corps would forever be known as “leathernecks” for the leather collars of their uniforms designed to prevent their heads from being cut off by the Muslim scimitars (sim a tar) when boarding enemy ships.
Here’s the thing, this system of piracy is simply state-sponsored terrorism an extortion racket in which the pirates and the North African states were all complicit. Jefferson knew that pursuing peace through appeasement never works. Not only that, Jefferson’s two least favorite institutions were enthroned monarchy and state-sponsored religion. Jefferson studied the Quran in an effort to understand this unprovoked danger of the Islamic Barbary Pirates. At first it was about free trade but as Jefferson learned about Islam through the Quran, Jefferson was deeply disturbed. America had a tradition of religious tolerance, but fundamentalist Islam was like no religion the world had ever seen. It is based on supremacism, whose holy book not only condoned but mandated violence against unbelievers was unacceptable to Jefferson. Islam cannot coexist with any other religion, ideology or institution. Islam seeks to perpetuate itself by dominating the world. His greatest fear was that someday this brand of Islam would return and pose a threat to the US.
It appears that Jefferson’s greatest fear has come true. The progressive liberal thought pattern wants us to think, as Peter Manseau, Smithsonian’s religion curator states, that Jefferson had the Quran because he wanted to understand and tolerate the religion of his slaves and that it shows that religious diversity in this country runs deep. We cannot allow them to control the narrative. Powered with the truth we can face them, but we have to know our history in order to do that. Those who don’t know history are destined to repeat it. We are facing something quite dangerous in our country right now. The Trojan Horse is among us.
I am driven to the scriptures to read the word and reminded of who is truly in control. The One who has more power in his little finger than all the powers of hell combined. Revelation 1:17 states,
“Then He (Jesus) placed His right hand on me and said: Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last.”
Remember God laughs at the nations who plot evil and spew filth from their mouths
Thanks for watching. God bless, pray earnestly, and MAGA!
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