- The contemporary United States is no stranger to overseas wars. This, however, wasn't always the case, at least not until the third presidency of the United States. President Thomas Jefferson took what at the time was the very unusual step of protecting American interests not only domestically but also abroad, setting a precedent that continues today. The result would be two wars fought abroad by Americans and allies on foreign soil to protect American trade. This war would be with the Barbary pirates' states of Northern Africa.
Algiers AH1218 (1804) 1/4 Budju, PCGS MS62
The Barbary pirates, also known as the Barbary corsairs or Ottoman corsairs, were bands of men with the support of Northern African provinces of Algiers (Algeria), Tunis (Tunisia), Tripoli (Libya), Sale, and Rabat (Morocco). These corsairs with their safe havens in the Northern African ports attacked and raided merchant ships and European coastal towns. With the raids, not only would the goods of the ships be stolen but the people would be captured and enslaved for the Ottoman slave trade. It is believed that between the years 1500-1800 over one million Europeans had been captured and sold into slavery.
Under colonial English rule, the American Colonies had both the protection from the British Navy and didn't face these attacks since both France and Britain began a policy of paying tribute to the Barbary states in order to allow their merchant shipping to be left alone by the pirates. After the United States declared independence, Morocco became the first state to recognize the United States and the first United States vessel seized occurred in 1784, after the Treaty of Paris. After Spain helped negotiate the freedom for the crew of the Betsey, it became United States policy to purchase peace treaties with these Barbary states. Thomas Jefferson sent envoys to Morocco and Algeria. In 1786, Morocco signed a treaty with the United States ending Moroccan piracy against American shipping interests and allowing Americans protection in Moroccan ports.Read the Entire Article