“The first nation to recognize my country was Morocco,” stated President Obama in Cairo, Egypt, June 4, 2009.
Explaining this, Governor William Bradford wrote that in 1625, a Pilgrim ship was returning to England with dried fish and 800 lbs of beaver skins to trade for supplies:
“They…were well within the England channel, almost in sight of Plymouth. But…there she was unhapply taken by a Turkish man-
of-war and carried off to Morocco where the captain and crew were made slaves.”
Muslim pirates of Morocco raided European coasts and carried away over a million to the North African slave markets, where also they sold tens of millions of Africans into slavery.
In 1627, Algerian Muslim pirates, led by Murat Reis the Younger, raided Iceland, and carried 400 into slavery.
One captured girl, who had been made a slave concubine in Algeria, was rescued back by King Christian IV of Denmark.
On June 20, 1631, the entire village of Baltimore, Ireland, “The Stolen Village,” was captured by Muslim pirates.
Only two ever returned. Thomas Osborne Davis wrote in his poem, “The Sack of Baltimore” (1895):
“The yell of ‘Allah!’ breaks above the shriek and roar;
O’blessed God! the Algerine is lord of Baltimore.”
Kidnapped Englishman Francis Knight wrote:
“I arrived in Algiers, that city fatal to all Christians and the butchery of mankind.”
Moroccan Sultan Moulay Ismail had 500 wives and forced 25,000 white slaves to build his palace at Meknes. He was witnessed to have killed an African slave just to try out a new hatchet he was given.
The Catholic Order “Trinitarians” collected alms to ransom slaves.
In 1785, Morocco recognized the new country of the United States by capturing two American ships and demanding tribute.
Thomas Jefferson wrote to John Jay, 1787:
“There is an order of priests called the Mathurins, the object of whose institution is to beg alms for the redemption of captives.
They keep members always in Barbary, searching out the captives of their country, and redeem, I believe, on better terms than any other body, public or private.
It occurred to me, that their agency might be obtained for the redemption of our prisoners at Algiers.”
Thomas Jefferson wrote to William Carmichael, 1786:
“Mr. Adams and I had conferences with a Tripoline ambassador, named Abdrahaman. He asked us thirty thousand guineas for a peace with his court.”
Jefferson reported to John Jay,” March 28, 1786:
“The Ambassador answered us that it was…written in their Qur’an, that all nations who should not have acknowledged Islam’s authority were sinners, that it was their…duty to make war upon them…and to make slaves of all they could take as prisoners.”
Jefferson purchased a Qur’an to understand the enemy.
Despite paying nearly 20 percent of the U.S. Federal budget as extortion payments, the Muslims continued their piracy.
When Jefferson became President, he finally sent in the U.S. Marines to stop Morocco’s Barbary pirates.
In his First Annual Message, December 8, 1801, Thomas Jefferson stated:
“Tripoli…of the Barbary States, had come forward with demands unfounded either in right or in compact, and had permitted itself to (announce) war on our failure to comply before a given day. The style of the demand admitted but one answer.
I sent a small squadron of frigates into the Mediterranean, with assurances to that power of our sincere desire to remain in peace, but with orders to protect our commerce against the threatened attack. ”
On December 29, 1803, the new 36-gun USS Philadelphia ran aground on Morocco’s shallow coast and Muslim pirates captured and imprisoned Captain William Bainbridge and his 307 man crew for 18 months.
To prevent the ship from being used by the Muslim Barbary pirates, Lieut. Stephen Decatur, FEBRUARY 16, 1804, sailed his ship, the Intrepid, into the pirate harbor of Tripoli, burned the captured U.S. frigate “Philadelphia” and escaped amidst enemy fire. British
Admiral Horatio Nelson called it the “most bold and daring act of the age.”
The Marines later captured Tripoli and forced the Pasha to make peace on U.S. terms.
Frederick Leiner wrote in The End of the Barbary Terror-America’s 1815 War Against the Pirates of North Africa (Oxford University Press):
“Commodore Stephen Decatur and diplomat William Shaler withdrew to consult in private…The Algerians were believed to be masters of duplicity, willing to make agreements and break them as they found convenient.”
The annotated John Quincy Adams-A Bibliography, compiled by Lynn H. Parsons (Westport, CT, 1993, p. 41, entry#194), contains “Unsigned essays dealing with the Russo-Turkish War and on Greece,” published in The American Annual Register for 1827-28-29 (NY: 1830):
“Our gallant Commodore Stephen Decatur had chastised the pirate of Algiers…The Dey (Omar Bashaw)…disdained to conceal his intentions;
‘My power,’ said he, ‘has been wrested from my hands; draw ye the treaty at your pleasure, and I will sign it; but beware of the moment, when I shall recover my power, for with that moment, your treaty shall be waste paper.'”
America’s war with the Muslim Barbary Pirates was the country’s first war after the Revolution, giving rise to the Marine Anthem:
“From the halls of Montezuma to the shores of Tripoli.”
William J. Federer is a nationally known speaker, best-selling author, and president of Amerisearch, Inc., a publishing company dedicated to researching America’s noble heritage.
To learn more about the author please visit William Federer
Featured image: Bombardment of Algiers by Lord Exmouth in August 1816, Thomas Luny, c. 1820, oil on canvas (private collection)