Jefferson became President, the Muslim Pasha of Tripoli demanded
$225,000 in tribute or else he would attack American ships.
When Jefferson refused and the Pasha declared war.
Jefferson stated in his First Annual Message, December 8, 1801:
"Tripoli...of the Barbary States...permitted itself to (announce) war on our failure to comply...
The style of the demand admitted but one answer. I sent a small squadron of frigates into the Mediterranean...
We are bound with peculiar gratitude to be thankful to Him that our own peace has been preserved through a perilous season."
had previously met with Tripoli's ambassador in 1786 and asked what
America had done to offend Muslims. Jefferson recorded his response:
ambassador answered us that it was written in their Koran, that all
nations which had not acknowledged the Prophet were sinners, whom it was
the right and duty of the faithful to plunder and enslave; and every
mussulman who was slain in this warfare was sure to go to paradise."
Jefferson arranged for John Paul Jones to fight for Catherine the Great of Russia against the Muslim Ottoman navy in 1788.
When the U.S.S. Philadelphia
was captured by Tripoli in 1803, Jefferson sent in the Navy and the
Marines, led by Commander Edward Preble, General William Eaton, Lieut.
Stephen Decatur, and Lieut. Presley O'Bannon.
Captain James Lawrence fought Muslim Barbary pirates in 1804.
These victories are remembered in the Marine hymn "...to the shores of Tripoli."
Later, during the War of 1812, Captain James Lawrence commanded the U.S.S. Hornet and captured the privateer Dolphin and the H.M.S. Peacock.
President James Madison wrote May 25, 1813:
brilliant achievements of our infant Navy, a signal triumph has been
gained by Captain Lawrence...in the Hornet sloop of war...
contest in which the United States are engaged appeals...to the sacred
obligation of transmitting...to future generations that...which is
held...by the present from the goodness of Divine Providence."
On JUNE 1, 1813, 31-year-old Captain James Lawrence sailed his 38-gun frigate U.S.S. Chesapeake out of Boston's Harbor.
His ship was suddenly attacked by the British ship Shannon.
For over an hour, the 38-gun Chesapeake fired away, hitting the Shannon 158 times, but the Shannon hit the Chesapeake 362 times, killing nearly every American officer.
As Captain James Lawrence lay dying on the deck the Chesapeake, his last words were "Don't Give Up The Ship!"
Theodore Roosevelt wrote in Hero Tales from American History, 1895:
dying with the words on his lips, 'Don't give up the ship' and
Perry...with the same words blazoned on his banner...won glory in
desperate conflicts and left a reputation hardly dimmed."
Captain Oliver Hazard Perry was so inspired by this display of courage that he named his flagship on Lake Erie U.S.S. Lawrence.