Joel Casey Carwile
Honors in History: The American Wars in the Barbary: A Consideration
Shortly after the United States of America was founded, the nation was involved in a war in the Mediterranean. The fledgling republic had to protect its merchant fleet from the attacks of piratical states in North Africa. To protect American interests, a navy had to be built from scratch and provisioned. Also adequate leaders had to be found to command the ships and to train crews. Finally, these ships had to be sailed halfway around the world fight in a land that few Americans had even heard of previously. For over thirty years the potentates of Tripoli, Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia gave trouble to the United States and her merchant vessels. Through direct sponsorship, the leaders of these Barbary nations encouraged and directly supported acts of piracy against merchant vessels that fell into the clutches of their hired privateers. In return, a portion of the ill begotten profits went to the Barbary potentates. The founding fathers of America dealt with these issues of piracy chiefly through appointees to the military and diplomatic corps. The actions and viewpoints are considered of many of the prominent appointees the political and administrative sectors. An extensive account is given of the military actions taken both at sea and on land. Explained also are the political, military, and diplomatic decisions that affected the outcome of the war. Accounts are retold of men both famous and infamous who either rose to the occasions they faced or didnít. This paper tells the true story, that is the history, of the wars fought by America along the Barbary Coast during the late 18th and early 19th centuries.