Thomas Jefferson And Barbary

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Thomas Jefferson was, for worse or for better, a man of the peace. Known for his somewhat radical idea that “If there be one principle more deeply rooted than any other in the mind of every American, it is, that we should have nothing to do with conquest.” In 1823, President Jefferson condemned “the atrocious violations of the rights of nations, by the interference of any-one in the internal affairs of another.” This was a new concept of thinking for the time. For example, when war with the British seemed inevitable near the end of Jefferson’s tour as secretary of state, he proposed what would today be termed “economic sanctions” as an alternative to military force. In a letter to the economist Tench Coxe, he wrote: “As to myself, I love peace, …show more content…
Jefferson’s problem with the Barbary pirates during the early years of the 1800’s was aggravated by a long history of European weakness during which payments of tribute and ransoms had promoted a growth in the industry of Piracy on the high seas. The Barbary regencies had preyed upon the laissez faire attitudes of European commerce and were rewarded generously for having done so. For two-hundred years before the United States arrived on the world stage as an independent nation. The American victory deprived ships sailing under the U.S. flag the protection the British flag had once offered. Like other European powers, the British were paying tribute to secure safe passage on the high seas. This lack of protection, combined with the large increase in American sea commerce and the fact that American merchant ships “carried not an ounce of shot” to defend themselves, made the new nation’s commerce particularly attractive for plunder. Jefferson’s rebuttal to the Barbary threat was to use the nation’s new naval forces to face down and destroy the pirate …show more content…
When it appeared off Tripoli on 24 July “the Pasha was a good deal disturbed and anxious to treat for peace.” One week later, the American schooner Enterprise, won a decisive victory in a three-hour battle with a larger Tripolitian cruiser without a single American casualty. This began the War that would set a precedent for the rest of the world, years later, the conclusion of the war in 1805 set off a wave of national pride among Americans, inspiring artwork and patriotic songs. But the circumstances under which peace was achieved gave President Jefferson’s political opponents ammunition to criticize his

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