Thomas Jefferson

How Did Thomas Jefferson, One Of The U.S. Establishing Fathers, Respond To Islam In 1801? Can We Learn From Him?

The United States is partaking in a war not against a specific country or even a specific people. Our war is against the specific ideology of terrorism. Presently, the country’s main opponent when it comes to said terrorism is the Islamic State (IS) or any of its previous names, like the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). The Inquisitr has kept up with reports on how the U.S. government and military would handle this issue. President Barack Obama has stated that the U.S. will degrade and humiliate the Islamic State — but a former Navy SEAL has detailed why Obama’s plans are already a failure.

However, most people may not know this isn’t the first time the United States dealt with an Islamic threat. Back in the 1800s, when Thomas Jefferson was the U.S. president, he had to engage with an Islamic threat too! The question is how the third president of the United States took the Islamic threat and can we utilize its history towards our current Islamic terrorist war.

According to an article by Young Conservatives and Downtrend, the very first war the United States had with an Islamic threat was during the First Barbary War. The war, which lasted from 1801 to 1805, was the first of two wars fought between the United States and the Northwest African Berber Muslim states known collectively as the Barbary States. These states were the Ottoman provinces of Tripoli, Algiers, and Tunis, which were enjoying great amounts of autonomy as well as the independent Sultanate of Morocco.

The reason why the war started is because President Thomas Jefferson refused to pay the high tributes demanded by the Barbary states and because they were seizing American merchant ships and enslaving their crew for high ransoms. It was the very first declared war of the United States fought on foreign land and seas.

First Barbary War
Thomas Jefferson — the third president of the United States — is the first one to engage war with an Islamic nation.

The Conservative Tribune followed-up on the report in which they quoted directly from the Letters of Thomas Jefferson. Back in 1786, Jefferson and John Adams met up with Tripoli’s ambassador to Great Britain to demand to know by what right Muslims can attack another nation’s ships and enslave the sailors.

“We took the liberty to make some enquiries concerning the ground of their pretensions to make war upon nations who had done them no injury, and observed that we considered all mankind as our friends who had done us no wrong, nor had given us any provocation.”

“The Ambassador [of Tripoli] answered us that it was founded on the Laws of their Prophet, that it was written in their Koran, that all nations who should not have acknowledged their authority were sinners, that it was their right and duty to make war upon them wherever they could be found, and to make slaves of all they could take as Prisoners, and that every Musselman who should be slain in battle was sure to go to Paradise.”

These were words first given to Thomas Jefferson in which Islamist threats were public and, for a time, the United States simply paid the ransoms until he became president. It was during his term that the Pasha of Tripoli sent a demand to Jefferson for an immediate payment of $225,000 and $25,000 per year on an ongoing basis. Jefferson flatly refused, after which the Pasha cut down the flagpole of the American consulate and declared war on the United States. The other Barbary states followed.

The war was such a big issue that Thomas Jefferson raised a navy, something he was formerly against, to take on the Barbary states. Jefferson’s intentions were to meet force with force as a squadron of vessels seized all enemy vessels and goods that belonged to the Pasha — and anything else deemed necessary. The other Barbary states dropped out when they saw the U.S. was committed to fight, which led to victory.

From this historical report on the First Barbary War, is there anything the United States can learn from it? Do you think that Thomas Jefferson did the right thing for the country or was there another way?

[Featured Image via Dennis Malone Carter and Post Image via Wikipedia]

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