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   Chapter 98 1806).

Formation of the Union By Albert Bushnell Hart Characters: 2385

Updated: 2017-12-06 00:02

[Sidenote: The navy.]

The Peace Establishment Act of March 3, 1801, authorized the President to sell all the vessels of the navy except thirteen frigates, of which only six were to be kept in commission; and the number of naval officers was reduced from five hundred to two hundred. "I shall really be chagrined," wrote Jefferson, "if the water in the Eastern Branch will not admit our laying up the whole seven there in time of peace, because they would be under the immediate eye of the department, and would require but one set of plunderers to take care of them." Events were too much for Jefferson's genial intention. Ever since the Middle Ages the petty Moorish powers on the north coast of Africa had made piracy on the Mediterranean trade their profession. In accordance with the custom of European nations, in 1787 the United States had bought a treaty of immunity with Morocco, and later with Algiers, Tripoli, and Tunis. Every payment to one of these nests of pirates incited the others to make increased demands. In May, 1800, the Pasha of Tripoli wrote to the President of the United States: "We could wish that these your expressions were followed by deeds, and not by empty

words…. If only flattering words are meant, without performance, every one will act as he finds convenient." Receiving no satisfaction, he declared war upon the United States.

[Sidenote: The pirates subdued.]

One of the first acts of Jefferson's administration was, therefore, to despatch a squadron to blockade Tripoli, and in 1802 he was obliged to consent to a declaration of war by the United States. The frigates were unsuitable, and in 1803 Congress resumed the hated Federalist policy of building a navy. Four new vessels, of a small and handy type, were constructed, and under Commodore Preble, Tripoli was compelled in 1805 to make peace and to cease her depredations. The other Barbary powers were cowed by this exhibition of spirit, and for some years our commerce was undisturbed. The first result of the war was, therefore, that the corsairs were humbled. A far greater advantage to the United States was the skill in naval warfare gained by the officers of the navy. Thenceforward it was impossible to think of shutting the navy up in the Eastern Branch of the Potomac. Naval expenditures slowly increased, and seven years later the good effect was seen in the War of 1812.

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