By Brian Kilmeade and Don Yaeger
This is the little-known story of how a newly independent nation was challenged by four Muslim powers and what happened when America’s third president decided to stand up to intimidation.
When Thomas Jefferson became president in 1801, America was deeply in debt and needed its economy to grow quickly, but its
merchant ships were under attack. Pirates from North Africa routinely captured American sailors and held them as slaves,
demanding ransom and tribute far beyond what the new country could afford.
Jefferson found it impossible to negotiate with the leaders of the Barbary states, who believed their religion justified the plunder and enslavement of non-Muslims. These rogue states would show no mercy, so President Jefferson decided to move beyond diplomacy. He sent the U.S. Navy’s new warships and a detachment of Marines to blockade Tripoli–launching the Barbary Wars and beginning America’s journey toward future superpower status.