To the shores of Tripoli

Exactly two hundred and ten years ago this week, the United States of America won its first land battle on a foreign shore – taking the city of Derne, in Libya, against the Barbary Pirate state of Ottoman Tripoli.  This battle essentially won the war for the young nation and resulted in the freeing of all 300-odd American sailors then rotting in the bey of Tripoli’s dungeons. But President Jefferson squandered the gain. In 1804, Jefferson dispatched a former diplomat, William Eaton, alone to the Mediterranean with instructions to overthrow the bey of Tripoli, Yusef Karamanli.  The idea was to install Yusef’s brother, the deposed Hamet, in his place.  Hamet had promised to stop the piratical practice of kidnapping American merchant sailors for ransom. Eaton called himself “General” Eaton, the “Naval Agent to the Barbary States.”  After searching around the narrow corners of Alexandria, Egypt, he found the compliant...(Read Full Post)