The Barbary Wars: American Independence in the Atlantic World 1st Edition
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“For those in search of lessons for today, Lambert's crisp and readable narrative makes clear that it took a combination of patient diplomacy, military force, and good luck to make the Atlantic and Mediterranean worlds safe for U.S. commerce. One suspects that all three factors are needed again now.” ―Walter Russell Mead, Foreign Affairs
“Does an excellent job of placing the Barbary Wars within the context of their time.” ―The Roanoke Times
About the Author
Frank Lambert teaches history at Purdue University and is the author of The Founding Fathers and the Place of Religion in America, Inventing the “Great Awakening,” and Pedlar in Divinity: George Whitefield and the Transatlantic Revivals, 1737–1770.
- Publisher : Hill and Wang; 1st edition (January 9, 2007)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 256 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0809028115
- ISBN-13 : 978-0809028115
- Item Weight : 8 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.58 x 0.72 x 8.28 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #359,720 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Minor complaints are that the photos and illustrations are not in chronological order and the author occasionally gets descriptions of naval ships confused, e.g., the USS Guerriere was a 44-gun frigate (not a 74-gun ship-of-the-line as the author states) and USS Ontario was a 20-gun sloop-of-war built at Baltimore in 1813 (not a British sloop captured by Decator as the author states). USS Epervier, which was a captured British 18-gun brig-sloop (but not captured by Decator) also accompanied the Guerriere and Ontario to the Mediterranean in 1815. Also, USS Independence, which was a new 74-gun ship-of-the-line, did show up in the Mediterranean after Decatur had obtained peace with Algiers in 1815.
If you want an informative, engaging and concise book on the U.S.' wars with the Barbary pirates, look no further than this. In this book, you will learn about:
* All of the major tariff laws which led up to the Declaration of Independence (i.e., Navigation Acts, Revenue (Sugar) Act, Stamp Act, Townshed Duties and the Tea Act).
* The two major wars with the Barbary states. The first, which is known as the Tripolitian War (1801-1805) and the second, which is known as the Algerine War (1815).
* The Tripolitan capture of the U.S. 36 gun frigate, a top-of-the-line gunship that would have been devastating under pirate control. To counter this deadly advantage, Lieutenant Stephen Decatur lead a daring and successful incursion into the Tripolitan harbor to burn the the USS Philadelphia, so that it can never be used by the pirates against the U.S. In particularly, you will learn about how Decatur surreptitiously disguised his vessel as a distressed, anchorless merchant ship that needs to be docked on shore.
* William Eaton's courageous 500-mile march through Libyan desert to launch a surprise attack on Derne, a coastal fortress which was not prepared for a land attack. This was the decisive victory in the Tripolitan War.
* The overt contrast between the treaty of the Tripolitan war and the Algerine War. The first treaty was the result of negotiation (with the soon-to-be-infamous Tobias Lear representing the U.S.). For example, it declared that the Tripolitans reduce the amount of the tribute that they demanded by 90% (Thus, conceding that forcing the U.S. to pay tribute, in principle, was still acceptable.) Even though Jefferson evidently approved of such limited terms, this was an outrage to the U.S. domestically as well as to the war heroes such as Eaton and Decatur.
In contrast, the terms of second treaty were dictated by the U.S. In particular, Decatur demanded that the pirates:
- disavow all demands of tribute and ransom.
- return all American prisoners and property captured through piracy.
- allow all ships with a U.S. flag pass unmolested in the Mediterranean.
Interestingly enough, the Dey of Algiers wanted to deliberate on the treaty overnight. Decatur famously replied that he would allow "not a minute; if your squadron appears in sight before the treaty is actually signed [...] ours will capture them." The terms that Decatur obtained in the treaties were unimaginable before the war, considering the decades of harassment that the U.S. faced at the hand of the Barbary pirates.
This is an amazing book.
One can see from this aspect of early foreign policy how the Articles of Confederation were insufficient for the young republic, for the United States didn't even have the power to tax so as to raise a navy to fight the Barbary threat. The book also explains how the Barbary Wars fit into the changing relationship with Great Britain and France, the impressment of seamen, and the events that led to the War of 1812.
Those who are reading or have read any of the Patrick O'Brian "Master and Commander" books, Lambert's book is likewise relevant, for these books are all talking about the same historical time period and geographic location.