Barbary Wars

The First Barbary War:

Before President Thomas Jefferson's inauguration in 1801, Congress passed naval legislation that, among other things, provided for six frigates that 'shall be officered and manned as the President of the United States may direct.' When he was inaugurated, Pasha Yusuf Karamanli of Tripoli demanded $225,000 from the new administration. At the time, Federal revenues were only a little over $10 million.
Finally having the chance to implement his ideals, Jefferson obviously refused the demand. For this reason, the Pasha declared war on the US on May 10, 1801. He did this not through any formal written documents but in the customary Barbary manner of cutting down the flagstaff in front of the U.S. Consulate. Algiers and Tunis did not follow their ally in Tripoli, however.
In response, the president posted a small group of ships to the region so that American ships and citizens were protected if Tripoli continued any potential aggression. Nonetheless, Jefferson argued that the Constitution did not allow him to do anything past defense. He told Congress: "I communicate all material information on this subject, that in the exercise of this important function confided by the Constitution to the Legislature exclusively their judgment may form itself on a knowledge and consideration of every circumstance of weight."
Congress never voted on a formal declaration of war, just like the Tripolitans. However, they allowed the President to instruct armed vessels to seize the Pasha's 'vessels and goods' "and also to cause to be done all such other acts of precaution or hostility as the state of war will justify." The Americans joined a group of Swedish ships led by Rudolf Cederström, both nations attempting a blockade of Tripoli. Sweden had been at war with the Tripolitans ever since 1800.

Enterprise capturing Tripoli
By May 31, 1801, Commodore Edward Preble sailed to Messina, where King Francis of the Two Sicilies was. Preble was seeking help, and he found a good ally. The Kingdom of the Two Sicilies was at war with Napoleon for quite a while, but the king provided Preble with not only just manpower, but also craftsmen, supplies, gunboats, mortar boats, and the ports of Messina, Syracuse and Palermo to be used as a naval base to launch operations against Tripoli, a port walled fortress city protected by 150 pieces of heavy artillery manned by 25,000 soldiers, assisted by a fleet of 10 ten gunned brigs, 2 eight gun schooners, 2 large galleys, and 19 gunboats.
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 requisite… for protecting effectually the commerce and seamen thereof on the Atlantic ocean, the Mediterranean and adjoining seas." "The statute authorized American ships to seize vessels belonging to the Bey of Tripoli, with the captured property distributed to those who brought the vessels into port.
The turning point in the war was the Battle of Derna (April–May 1805). Ex-consul William Eaton, a former Army officer who held the rank of general, and US Marine Corps First Lieutenant Presley O'Bannon led a force of eight U.S. Marines, 500 mercenaries -- Greeks from Crete, Arabs, and Berbers — on a march across the desert from Alexandria, Egypt to assault and to capture the Tripolitan city of Derna. This was the first time in history the United States flag was raised in victory on foreign soil. The action is memorialized in a line of the Marines' Hymn—"the shores of Tripoli."

The Second Barbary War:

During the War of 1812, the Barbary pirate states took this opportunity to return to their practice of attacking American, as well as European merchant vessels in the Mediterranean Sea and holding their crews and officers for ransom.
Shortly after departing Gibraltar en route to Algiers, Decatur's squadron encountered the Algerian flagship Meshuda, and, in a battle off Cape Gata, captured it. Not long afterward, the American squadron likewiseoff Cape Palos captured the Algerian brig Estedio. By the final week of June, the squadron had reached Algiers and had initiated negotiations with the Dey. After persistent demands for recompensation mingled with threats of destruction, the Dey capitulated. 
By terms of the treaty signed aboard the Guerriere in the Bay of Algiers, 3 July 1815, Decatur agreed to return the captured Meshuda and Estedio while the Algerians returned all American captives, estimated to be about 10, and a significant number of European captives were exchanged for about 500 subjects of the Dey along with $10,000 in payment for seized shipping. The treaty guaranteed no further tributes and granted the United States full shipping rights.
After the First Barbary War, the European nations had been engaged in warfare with one another (and the U.S. with the British). However, in the years immediately following the Second Barbary War, there was no general European war. This allowed the Europeans to build up their resources and challenge Barbary power in the Mediterranean without distraction. 
Over the following century, Algiers and Tunis became colonies of France in 1830 and 1881 respectively, while Tripoli returned to the control of the Ottoman Empire in 1835. In 1911, taking advantage of the power vacuum left by the fading Ottoman Empire, Italy assumed control of Tripoli. 
Europeans remained in control of the government in eastern North Africa until the mid-20th century. By then the iron-clad warships of the late 19th century and dreadnoughts of the early 20th century ensured European dominance of the Mediterranean sea.

You Might Also Like