Barbary War, First2019-04-17T17:48:33+00:00
Portrait of Thomas Jefferson.

Thomas Jefferson was President during the First Barbary War.

First Barbary War

1801–1805

Suggested Reading for First Barbary War

"The Barbary War - the first American war against Libya - was the first war waged by the United States outside national boundaries after gaining independence and unification of the country. The four Barbary States of North Africa - Morocco, Algiers, Tunis, and Tripoli - had plundered seaborne commerce for centuries. This was piracy on an extraordinary scale: they controlled all trading routes through the Barbary waters and North Africa: demanding ransom and booty for safe passage. In 1801 the newly elected President Jefferson ordered a naval and military expedition to North Africa in order to put down regimes that endorsed piracy and slavery. The Pasha of Tripoli declared war on the United States. Under the leadership of Commodores Richard Dale and Edward Preble, the US Navy blockaded the enemy coast and engaged in close, bitterly contested gunboat actions. On 16 February 1804 LT Stephen Decatur led 74 volunteers into Tripoli to burn the captured American frigate The Philadelphia. British Admiral Lord Nelson called the raid "the most daring act of the age". In 1805 Marines stormed the Barbary pirates' harbor fortress stronghold of Derna (Tripoli), commemorated in the Marine Corp Hymn invocation "To the Shores of Tripoli." The US Navy troops were recalled before they could secure their gains, but returned after the War of 1812. Their success then won worldwide admiration for the Americans and their Navy. They marked the way for the European nations to finally quash the Barbary States and end the piracy. This event marks the true birth of the US Navy and Marines and is ever remembered in the Marines' battle hymn." From Amazon.com

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"In an attempt to stop the legendary Barbary Pirates of North Africa from hijacking American ships, William Eaton set out on a secret mission to overthrow the government of Tripoli. The operation was sanctioned by President Thomas Jefferson, who at the last moment grew wary of "intermeddling" in a foreign government and sent Eaton off without proper national support. Short on supplies, given very little money and only a few men, Eaton and his mission seemed doomed from the start. He triumphed against all odds, recruited a band of European mercenaries in Alexandria, and led them on a march across the Libyan Desert. Once in Tripoli, the ragtag army defeated the local troops and successfully captured Derne, laying the groundwork for the demise of the Barbary Pirates. Now, Richard Zacks brings this important story of America's first overseas covert op to life." From Amazon.com.

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"At the dawn of a new century, a newly elected U.S. president was forced to confront an escalating series of unprovoked attacks on Americans by Muslim terrorists sworn to carry out jihad against all Western powers. As timely and familiar as these events may seem, they occurred more than two centuries ago. The president was Thomas Jefferson, and the terrorists were the Barbary pirates. Victory in Tripoli recounts the untold story of one of the defining challenges overcome by the young U.S. republic. This fast-moving and dramatic tale examines the events that gave birth to the Navy and the Marines and re-creates the startling political, diplomatic, and military battles that were central to the conflict. This highly interesting and informative history offers deep insight into issues that remain fundamental to U.S. foreign policy decisions to this day." From Amazon.com.

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"Author Joseph Wheelan has marvelously captured the story of America's war against the Barbary pirates, our first war against terror and the nations that support it. The Barbary pirates, a Muslim enemy from Tripoli, attacked European and American merchant shipping with impunity. Jefferson ordered the U.S. Navy to Tripoli in 1801 to repel "force with force." The Barbary War was also a proving ground for such young officers as William Bainbridge, Stephen Decatur, Isaac Hull, and David Porter -key players in the impending War of 1812 against Great Britain." From Amazon.com.

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"Often-overlooked yet significant and prophetic event in U.S. history, the Barbary War was America's first battle against an Arab despot and President Thomas Jefferson's first major challenge to U.S. foreign policy. As described by A.B.C. Whipple, it is a great yarn as well as first-rate history. The author skillfully combines vivid accounts of derring-do with shrewd appraisals of contemporary politics and diplomacy. Because the Continental Navy had been disbanded, there was an urgent need to develop a new Navy and Marine Corps. Faced with the choice of trading arms for hostages or meeting force with force, Jefferson sent a squadron of warships to the Mediterranean while Congress was in recess, prompting the first major debate on the war-making powers of a U.S. president. The war included a blockade of Tripoli, sustained bombardment by the Navy's new frigates, and finally a ground war fought by a U.S. Army captain, eight Marines, and a rabble of Christians and Arabs sent to free the hostages. Whipple's rousing narrative is filled with fascinating personalities. In addition to Jefferson, there is Commodore Edward Preble, the quarter-deck tyrant who commanded the first naval forces into battle; the bold junior officer Stephen Decatur; the tyrannical bashaw, Yusuf Karamanli; William Eaton, an early-day Lawrence of Arabia; Marine lieutenant Presley O'Bannon; and a host of others." From Amazon.com.

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"Originally published in 1972, Christopher McKee's biography of Edward Preble remains the most authoritative source on this influential early shaper of the U.S. naval tradition. McKee (Grinnell College) documents Preble's rise from obscurity to become Thomas Jefferson's chief administrator, his relationship with Jefferson and the president' policies and strategies during the war, and also the Tripolitan activities and attitudes which confronted Preble as he sought to bring the war to an end. This Classic of Naval Literature work includes illustrations and a new introduction by the author." From Amazon.com.

Available from Amazon.com

Citation Information

The following information is provided for citations.

  • Article Title First Barbary War Suggested Reading
  • Coverage 1801–1805
  • Author
  • Keywords first barbary war, barbary coast war, tripolitan war, jefferson overseas war, barbary pirates
  • Website Name American History Central
  • URL
  • Access Date September 19, 2019
  • Publisher R.Squared Communications, LLC
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update April 17, 2019

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