Saturday, September 24, 2016

Thomas Jefferson and the Tripoli pirates

Thomas Jefferson and the Tripoli pirates: the forgotten ware that changed American history / Brian Kilmeade & Don Yaeger, 254 pgs.

An interesting account of the problem with pirates in the very early days of our country. This account tells of the pirate states demand for payment to leave merchant ships alone.  If payments were not made, ships were boarded, looted with crews and passengers becoming slaves.  The United States was still a new country and desperately needed open trading conditions to grow its economy.  Thomas Jefferson was president when things came to a head. This book tells a bit of the origins of our nation's armed services when the president and congress realized paying for a Navy would be cheaper than payments demanded by the Barbary state (Tripoli, Tunis, Algiers and Morocco).  After diplomatic solutions failed, war was on.  This also may be the first attempt by the U. S. to affect regime change.  Also of interest, the realities of the speed of communication in those days.  Tripoli demanded payment within six months or threatened to declare war on the U.S.  By the time the letter reached Jefferson, there was a very short period remaining and communication could not be achieved within the six months.  For additional months then, no one in the states knew if war had been declared or not.  Orders to the Navy captains who responded were likewise unable to move any faster.  The time lag added to the intrigue.  I listened to the audio book which was forcefully read by author Kilmeade.

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