Thomas Jefferson: The Pirate War: To The Shores Of Tripoli

Muslim foes. Kidnappings. How the Barbary Wars foreshadowed things to come.

Within days of his March 1801 inauguration as the third President of the United States, Thomas Jefferson ordered a naval and military expedition to North Africa, without the authorization of Congress, to put down regimes involved in slavery and piracy. The war was the first in which the U.S. flag was carried and planted overseas; it saw the baptism by fire of the U.S. Marine Corps--whose anthem boasts of action on "the shores of Tripoli"--and it prefigured later struggles with both terrorism and jihad.

The Barbary States of North Africa--Algiers, Tunis, Morocco and Tripoli (today's Libya)--had for centuries sustained themselves by...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!