Wednesday, September 28, 2016

The Barbary War: A Steep Price for Peace

This is a review of a chapter from the book, Miracles and Massacres: True and Untold Stories of the Making of America, by Glenn Beck with Kevin Balfe and Hannah Beck, Threshold Editions, New York, 2013.
This story explains why the Marine Song includes the line, "To the shores of Tripoli."  When the United States was a new nation the Barbary Coast pirates were notorious, with safe haven in Tripoli and many other North African Ports.  Yussef Qaramanli had taken Hamet Quaramanli's, his brother's throne as Pashta, and supported the pirates, and demanded ransom from countries for safe passage.  He demanded millions of dollars from the United States, which at the time represented over ten percent of the country's budget.  Finally, when Thomas Jefferson was president, war was declared.  The people of Tripoli had overtaken the U.S. consulate.  However, early efforts to fight the pirates failed.  Finally a large ship, the U.S.S. Philadelphia was sent.  They were going to make their first capture, but ran aground and were surrounded and the sailors caught and made slaves.  This would begin a hell that would last a year and a half for these men, including Marines.  Stephen Decatur later lead a force which boarded the Philadelphia, used her cannon to fire upon the city, and then her aflame and she sank when the magazine room was lit.  The men escaped.

William Eaton, the former consul approached Jefferson with a plan to replace Yussef with his brother, the rightful ruler.  He was given men and money to make this happen.  He put together an army which traveled over desert from Alexandria, some 400 miles to reach their first test, Derna.  This was an outlying town loyal to Yussef.  Supported the the Navy, Eaton and his men of Marines, European mercenaries and Muslims loyal to Hamet.  Hamet traveled with them.  They finally stormed the fortified positions at Derna, and won the day.

However reinforcements from Tripoli, loyal to Yussef arrived and pinned them in the city.  However siege was futile as Eaton and his men were well supplied by the U.S. Navy.  A new ship arrived, and with it orders from Jefferson that peace terms had been accepted.  Yussef would retain his crown.  The mercenaries and Hamet would be taken to Italy.  The imprisoned sailors and Marines were freed from their hell.  However Eaton remained bitter as he knew he could have taken Tripoli and effected regime change.
Yussef broke all the agreements of the treaty.  The taking of Tripoli had to be done later.  It wasn't until after the War of 1812, that the U.S. had a Naval force such that they could back up their threats.  They went to Tripoli and forced a final peace.

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