“It will be more easy to raise ships and men to fight these pirates into reason,
than money to bribe them.” Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to the president
of Yale College, Ezra Stiles, December 26, 1786
Did you know that September 11, 2001 was not the first time that America experienced Muslim terrorism? In 1784, the first American ships were attacked by Muslim pirates
from along the Barbary Coast in the Mediterranean. In 1785, Thomas Jefferson, John
Adams and Benjamin Franklin went to London to negotiate a treaty with Tripoli
to stop the attacks, and in letters back to America, these men wrote of the response made by Tripoli Ambassador Sidi Haji Abdrahaman, when they asked him why their ships were attacked, when America had done their nation no injury: “It is written in their Koran, that all nations which had not acknowledged the Prophet were sinners, whom it was the right and duty of the faithful to plunder and enslave; and that every mussulman who was slain in this warfare was sure to go to paradise”. Those words sound eerily familiar, don’t they?
Being a new nation with no navy, America agreed to pay the usual tribute for “protection”, as the other European nations were doing, and continued to do so for 15 years. But after the tribute rose to be over 20% of the US budget, and ships were still continuing to be seized and their crews enslaved or ransomed, in 1798 America decided to found the US Navy in order to begin to protect our shipping. Then in 1801, after the inauguration of
Thomas Jefferson, our new President and Congress decided to refuse future payments of tribute, believing that it only encouraged further demands. We became the first nation ever to do so. After that, the Barbary pirates declared war on us, and our U.S. Navy fought these terrorists to protect our merchants on the Mediterranean until we defeated them in 1815, officially ending 31 years of America’s first war on terror. Encouraged by our example, an international coalition of European nations began to also refuse to pay tribute, and fought back as well by bombarding the Barbary Coast until they finally surrendered and ceased all piracy in 1830.
Our founders understood that pacification of terror only encourages further terror, and that the only way to stop it is to take a stand against it. They saw terror as a form of tyranny, and knew that tyrants would only submit to strength. Although they did not want to go to war, they knew that they must in order to protect the future liberty and prosperity of their people. They were under the thumb of a tyrant once; they would not be again.
While there are many similarities between the behaviors of the Muslim terrorists of 200
years ago with the Muslim terrorists of today, there are some differences between the politicians of 200 years ago to the politicians of today. 200 years ago our leaders were not afraid to defend the nation; nor did they worry about offending those that they were fighting against. They put the rights of their own citizens before the rights of those that sought to harm Americans. They studied the mentality of their enemy and waged war in a way that would be understood and feared. They also knew that the eyes of the people were upon them for leadership, and they did not shirk their sacred duty.
This is not the first time that Americans have been engaged in a war against men who wrap themselves up in the Koran to justify their radical culture of death and lust for power. But like our 18th century brethren, we must continue to be vigilant against such evil, as future tyranny finds its first roots in terrorism. Those that seek to enslave others will always see a free and righteous people as a threat; they know that such a people would be the only ones ever strong enough to defeat them. Liberty is the only thing these terrorists
fear. Let’s continue to make them afraid.
“It is a settled policy of America, that as peace is better than war, war is better than tribute. The United States, while they wish for war with no nation, will buy peace with none.” James Madison (1751-1836), 4th President of the United States