Lossing's Field Book of the War of 1812, Chapter VI.- Difficulties with the Barbary Powers. - England and France at War.







Peaceful Promises. – The Achievements of Bonaparte. – His Influence in Europe. – Hatred of Great Britain. – Great Britain Triumphant. – Friendly Relations with Bonaparte. – The sudden Change ridiculed. – Beginning of Jefferson’s Administration. – Appearance and Condition of the National Capital. – Thomas Jefferson. – Mr. Jefferson foreshadows his Policy. – His Popularity. – A National Party desired. – Political Proscription begun. – Reason for giving a History of Parties. – The Navy reduced. – Unwise Economy. – Tribute to the Barbary Powers. – Bainbridge at Algiers and Constantinople. – His Treatment at each. – Good Effect of his Visit to Constantinople. – The Dey of Algiers humbled. – Insolence of the Bey of Tunis. – Commodore Dale in the Mediterranean. – Tripoli and its Cruisers blockaded. – Abandonment of the Barbary Coast. – Commodores Morris and Dale. – Squadron under Preble in the Mediterranean. – Settlement of Difficulties with Morocco. – Capture of the Philadelphia. – Destruction of the Philadelphia. – Tripoli bombarded. – A hand to hand Fight. – Gallantry of Decatur. – Tripoli bombarded the Fifth Time. – A floating Mine. – Its Explosion in the Harbor of Tripoli. – Destruction of the Intrepid. – Honors to Commodore Preble. – Biographical Sketch. – Commodore Barron’s Squadron in the Mediterranean. – The Naval Monument at Annapolis. – Devices and Inscriptions. – Alliance with Hamet Caramalli. – March across Northern Africa. – Peace with Tripoli. – The Barbary Powers humbled. – Bonaparte declared Consul for Life. – His Insolence toward the English. – War declared against France. – The English People excited against France. – Invasion of Great Britain by the French expected. – Witticisms. – Effects of the British Declaration of War. – Fight for the Championship. – Bonaparte proclaimed Emperor. – His Plans. – The Berlin Decree.


"The Dey of Algiers, not afraid of his ears,

Sent to Jonathan once for some tribute:
‘Ho! ho!’ says the Dey, ‘if the rascal don’t pay,
A caper or two I’ll exhibit.
I’m the Dey of Algiers, with a beard a yard long;
I’m a Mussulman, too, and of course very strong:
For this is my maxim, dispute it who can,
That a man of stout muscle’s a stout Mussulman."


Jefferson’s administration commenced under favorable auspices [March 4, 1801.]. There were omens of peace abroad, and these promised calmness and prosperity at home. The league of England and the Continental powers against Bonaparte had failed to impede his progress in the path toward universal dominion; on the contrary, he had brought nearly all Europe trembling at his feet. Within the short space of two years he made himself master of all Italy, and humbled proud Austria by a series of the most splendid victories on record. Within the circle of another two years he had returned from his Oriental campaigns to receive the homage of France, and accept its sceptre in republican form as First Consul. With the absolute power of an emperor, which title he speedily assumed, he prepared to bring to France still more wealth, territory, and glory, by extending her sway from Africa to the North Cape – from the Atlantic to the Ural Mountains. Old thrones shook; and when Bonaparte whispered peace all Europe listened eagerly, for they were words of hope for dynasties and nationalities.

The preliminary Treaty of Luneville [February 9, 1801.], 1 affirming that of Campo-Formio, 2 made four years earlier [October 17, 1797.], rendered a reconstruction of the map of Europe necessary, for kings and princes had allowed the successful soldier to change the geographical lines of their dominions. Great Britain was left alone in armed opposition to the conquering Corsican. Even her late allies against him, always jealous of her maritime superiority, were now his foes. The league of Northern powers, known as the Armed Neutrality, 3 was re-established by treaty [December 16, 1800.] at the instigation of the Emperor Paul, of Russia, and from their council went forth the spirit of Cato’s words concerning the offending African city: Delenda est Carthago – "Carthage must be destroyed." They resolved to contradict by force her doctrine concerning the freedom of neutrals, 4 and naval armaments were put afloat. At the same time Bonaparte was threatening Great Britain with invasion, and her rich East India possessions with the tread of the conqueror.

Although burdened with taxation to a degree before unknown, and wearied with her long contest with France and the Irish rebellion under her own roof; 5 Britain once more put forth her strength on the ocean. Parker and Nelson destroyed the Danish fleet at Copenhagen [April 2, 1801.], and brought that government to submission; the other powers of the league, alarmed, and deserted by Paul’s successor, withdrew from the unequal contest, and left England still boasting, as in Waller’s time, two hundred years ago, that her ships were

"Riding without a rival on the sea;"

or chanting, with the faith of Thomson, a hundred years later,

"When Britain first, at Heaven’s command,

Arose from out the azure main,
This was the charter of the land,
And guardian angels sung the strain:
Rule Britannia; Britannia rules the waves!
Britons never shall be slaves."

England was willing to have peace, but not with the loss of an iota of her power. A peace ministry, with Mr. Addington at its head, assumed the reins of government in the spring of 1801. It looked with favor upon the dispersion of the war-clouds which had so long brooded over Europe. During that year one after another of the Continental powers wheeled into the line of amicable relations with Bonaparte, 6 and in March, 1802 [March 25.], by treaty at Amiens, 7 he and George the Third became technical friends, much to the disgust of a powerful war party in England, who would not trust the word of the ambitious Corsican for an hour. They believed his object to be rest and gaining of time, while he should make preparations for more formidable blows for the subjugation of Europe. But they were compelled to yield to the greater faith, or the greater needs, of the government and the majority. There was sunlight abroad, and a bow of promise in the sky. It seemed as if universal peace was about to be established in Europe, and Bonaparte was hailed as a pacificator. England blazed with bonfires and illuminations; was resonant with speeches and sermons; feasted in public halls in testimony of her faith and joy, and enriched her literature with addresses and poems on the apparent dawning of a political millennium. Forgetful of the past deeds of Bonaparte, which they had denounced as crimes, Englishmen flocked to Paris to bow before the rising sun of power, and carried back with them French fashions in abundance, as tokens of their satisfaction. The sly Corsican, chuckling over their obsequiousness, and their blindness to his real designs, treated the most distinguished of his English admirers with marked respect, and received in turn such fulsome adulation that right-minded men in Great Britain blushed with shame. 8

The machinery of government was all adjusted for the easy management of the new President of the United States. The treasury had never been so full, nor the revenue so abundant as at that time, and he was enabled to signalize the commencement of his administration and to strengthen it by the repeal of the excise and other obnoxious acts, which were necessary at the beginning. Commerce, and all the industrial interests of the country, were flourishing, and the pathway of the new chief magistrate of the republic seemed plain, flowery, and luminous.

The seat of government had just been removed to the city of Washington, the new capital of the nation, and then an insignificant village on the bank of the Potomac, on the verge of a Maryland forest, 9 in the District of Columbia. 10 There, in one of the wings of the half-finished Capitol, the last session of Congress had been held; and there, on the 4th of March, 1801, Chief Justice Marshall administered to Mr. Jefferson the oath of office, and he became the third President of the United States. 11

Although Jefferson was a radical Republican, he made no special changes in the inaugural ceremonies used by his predecessors. He abolished public levees at the Presidential mansion, and sent messages in writing to Congress, instead of delivering speeches in person, because he considered these customs too monarchical in form. 12

A small military and civic escort conducted Mr. Jefferson to the Capitol, and there he read his inaugural address to a large crowd of delighted listeners. It had been looked for with anxiety, as it would foreshadow the policy of the new administration. 13 It was patriotic, conservative, and conciliatory, and allayed many apprehensions of his political opponents. "Every difference of opinion," he said, "is not a difference of principle. We have called by different names brethren of the same principle. We are all Federalists – we are all Republicans." 14

In this spirit Mr. Jefferson commenced his administration. He set about the reform of public abuses, treated every body with kindness, and left most of the incumbents of public offices untouched for a while. 15 His political enemies were compelled to confess his forecast, wisdom, and faithfulness; and many Federalists, believing that he would not disturb their friends in office, joined the Republican party, and became the most vehement denunciators of their old partisans and their principles. 16

Mr. Jefferson soon discovered that he was not wholly his own master. He had been elevated to power by a party whose leaders, like those of all parties, were lustful for office. He was compelled to listen to their clamors, and finally to yield acquiescence in their doctrine that "to the victor belongs the spoils." 17 He gradually filled many of the most important offices in his gift with his political friends, for whose accommodation faithful men, a large proportion of them appointed by Washington and retained by Adams, were removed. Thus was developed in alarming proportions that system of proscription commenced by the second President, which has worked, mischievously in the administration of our general and state governments from that time until the present. It bore immediate fruit in the form of bitter partisanship. The Federalists, now become the opposition, and thereby having the advantage in controversy, began a relentless warfare upon the new administration as soon as its proscriptive policy was manifested. With that warfare, as a mere game of politics, we have nothing to do, except so far as it had a bearing upon public events during the few years immediately preceding the War of 1812, and held relationship thereto.

It seems proper at this point in our narrative to say, that the sketch of the rise and progress of the two great political parties which existed in the United States at the beginning of the present century, and whose animosities and aspirations had much to do in bringing about a war in 1812, has been given for the purpose, first, to afford our general subject that much-needed elucidation, and, secondly, to connect by dependent links of historic outlines the events of the FIRST with those of the SECOND WAR FOR INDEPENDENCE.

At the close of Mr. Adams’s administration [March, 1801.], Congress passed a law 18 authorizing the President to place the navy on a rigid peace footing, by retaining only thirteen frigates, 19 and only six of these to be kept in active service. The act authorized him to dismantle and sell all others, and lay up seven of the thirteen in a way in which they might be carefully preserved. It also authorized him to reduce the complement of officers and men, by retaining in the service, in time of peace, only nine captains, thirty-six lieutenants, and one hundred and fifty midshipmen, including those employed on the six frigates kept in active service, and to discharge the remainder. Under this authority, and in accordance with his own judgment concerning rigid economy and the prospect of universal peace, Mr. Jefferson sold all but the thirteen frigates named, laid up seven of these, and discharged all the officers and men in excess after placing the service on a peace footing. And yet, in the matter of force, nearly four fifths was retained, for the vessels sold were mostly inferior, and only fourteen of them had been built expressly for the government service. The President also suspended work on six ships authorized by Congress in 1798. So little did the American people then seem to apprehend the value of a competent navy for the protection of their commerce every where, as well as the honor of the nation, that a majority of them applauded these measures, while many Federalists assailed them only for political effect. That strong arm of the government which had so protected commerce as to enable the Americans to sell to foreign countries, during the difficulties with France, surplus products to the amount of $200,000,000, and to import sufficient to yield the government a revenue exceeding $23,000,000, was thus paralyzed by an unwise economy in public expenditure.

The conduct of the Barbary Powers soon made the want of an efficient navy painfully apparent. The government of the United States had purchased, by the payment in full of a stipulated sum of money, the friendship, or rather the forbearance of the Bey of Tripoli, while to the Dey of Algiers and the Bey of Tunis tribute in money, military and maritime stores, and other presents was annually paid. 20 The submission of all the Christian nations of Europe to these exactions made those pirate-kings exceedingly insolent, and finally, in the Spring of 1801, the President resolved to humble the pride and the power of those commercial marauders, release American commerce from their thrall in the Mediterranean, and assert the dignity of his country by ceasing to pay tribute to another. This resolution was strengthened by the insolent treatment of Commodore Bainbridge by the Dey of Algiers the previous year.


In May, 1800, Bainbridge, in command of the George Washington, 24, went out with the usual tribute to the Algerine ruler. He arrived in the port of his capital in September, performed with courtesy the duties enjoined upon him, and was about to leave, when the Dey commanded him to carry an Algerine embassador to the Court of the Sultan at Constantinople. Bainbridge politely refused compliance, when the haughty and offended Dey said sternly, "You pay me tribute, by which you become my slaves, and therefore I have a right to order you as I think proper." The guns of the castle were looking out vigilantly upon Bainbridge’s frigate, and without their permission he could not pass out of the harbor. He was compelled to yield to the force of circumstances, being assured by Mr. O’Brien, once a captive and then American consul there, that if he attempted to leave the harbor, the guns of the castle, heavy and well-manned, would open upon his vessel with destructive effect, his ship would be seized and used for the purpose, and war would ensue. To avoid these calamities Bainbridge bowed submissively to the humiliation; and he even complied with the haughty ruler’s farther requisition, that he should carry the Algerine flag at the main, and that of the United States at the fore. He sailed out of the port of Algiers an obedient slave, and then, placing his own flag in the position of honor as a freeman, he bore the Algerine embassador to the Golden Horn. "I hope," he wrote to the Secretary of the Navy, "I shall never again be sent to Algiers with tribute, unless I am authorized to deliver it from the mouth of our cannon."

Under other circumstances this trip to the ancient city of Constantinople would have been a desirable one, for Bainbridge had the honor of displaying the stars and stripes for the first time before that famous seat of Ottoman empire. The Sultan and his great officers of state were astonished. They had never heard of the United States; but when, at length, they were made to comprehend that it was a country beyond the great sea, discovered by Columbus, of which they had heard vague and romantic rumors, Bainbridge was received with the greatest courtesy. He and the Turkish admiral became warm friends; and when Bainbridge was about to return to Algiers in January, the latter gave him a firman to protect him from farther insolence there. The Sultan, whose flag bore the crescent moon, drew a favorable omen from this visit of a banner bearing its neighbors, the stars of heaven. He believed the two nations must ever be friends, and so they have been.

On his return to Algiers [January 21, 1801.] the Dey requested Bainbridge to go on another errand to Constantinople. Bainbridge peremptorily refused. The Dey flew into a rage, threatened war, and finally menaced the captain with personal violence. Bainbridge quietly produced his firman, when the fierce governor became lamb-like, and obsequiously offered to the man he had just looked upon as his slave, friendship and service. Taking advantage of this change, Bainbridge assumed the air of a dictator, and demanded the instant release of the French consul and fifty or sixty of his countrymen, who had lately been imprisoned by the Dey. When Bainbridge left he carried away with him all the French in Algiers. His compulsory visit to Constantinople resulted in great good to his fellow-men.

The Bey or Bashaw of Tripoli, 21 not content with the gross sum that had been paid him by the United States, when he learned that his neighbors had received larger bribes than he, demanded tribute in the autumn of 1800, and threatened war if his demand was not satisfied within six months. Accordingly, in May, 1801, he ordered the flag-staff of the American consulate to be cut down, and proclaimed war.

In anticipation of these events, Commodore Dale had been sent with a small squadron, consisting of the President, 44, Captain James Barron; Philadelphia, 38, Captain Samuel Barron; Essex, 32, Captain Bainbridge, and Enterprise, 12, Lieutenant Commandant Sterrett. The President was Dale’s flag-ship. The squadron sailed from Hampton Roads, and reached Gibraltar on the 1st of July. Dale soon proceeded eastward in company with the Enterprise, and appeared off Tripoli and Tunis, to the great astonishment of the rulers of those states. On the way the Enterprise fell in with, attacked, and captured a Tripolitan corsair called the Tripoli, reducing her, in the course of an engagement of three hours, almost to a wreck, and killing and wounding twenty of her men, without the loss of a single man on her side. 22 Meanwhile the Philadelphia was cruising in the Straits of Gibraltar, to prevent two Tripolitan corsairs which were found there going out upon the Atlantic; and the Essex sailed along the northern shores of the Mediterranean, to convoy American merchant ships. Dale continued to cruise in the Mediterranean until autumn, and his presence exercised a most wholesome restraint over the corsairs. 23

Another expedition was sent to the Mediterranean in 1802, under Commodore Richard V. Morris. It was a relief squadron, and consisted of the Chesapeake, 38, Lieutenant Chauncey, acting captain; Constellation, 38, Captain Murray; New York, 36, Captain James Barron; John Adams, 28, Captain Rodgers; Adams, 28, Captain Campbell, and Enterprise, 12, Lieutenant Commandant Sterrett. Morris hoisted his broad pennant on board the Chesapeake. The squadron did not go in a body, but proceeded one after another from February until September. Meanwhile the Boston, commanded by the eccentric Captain M‘Neill (son of Hector M‘Neill, of the Revolutionary navy), 24 was cruising in the Mediterranean in an independent way, after conveying Robert R. Livingston, the United States minister, to France. The port of Tripoli was blockaded by her early in May, where she was joined by the Constellation. The latter vessel was soon left alone, as M‘Neill avoided the company of others, and not long afterward she had a severe contest with a flotilla of seventeen Tripolitan gun-boats. She handled them severely, as well as some cavalry on the shore, with her great guns.

The Chesapeake reached Gibraltar on the 25th of May, and found the Essex, Captain Bainbridge, still blockading the two Tripolitan cruisers there. The arrival of the Adams late in July enabled the Chesapeake, in company with the Enterprise, to cruise along the north shore of the Mediterranean for the protection of American commerce. Finally orders were given for the different vessels of the squadron to rendezvous at Malta. They collected there in the course of the month of January, 1803, and during the spring appeared off the ports of the Barbary Powers, and effectually restraining their corsairs. Tripoli was blockaded by the John Adams in May. She had a severe engagement toward the close of the month with gun-boats and land batteries. These suffered severely, and the Americans lost twelve or fifteen in killed and wounded. An unsuccessful attempt to negotiate a peace was made the next day, and in June the movements of the Algerine and Tunisian corsairs induced the Americans to raise the blockade. But, before leaving, Commodore Rodgers, of the John Adams (then in chief command), with the Enterprise, attacked a large Tripolitan corsair lying in a sheltered bay, and drove her people to the shore. The corsair soon afterward blew up, with a large number of persons who had returned to her. The ships then all left the Barbary coast, and Commodore Morris returned home. He arrived toward the close of November, 1803. The conduct of affairs in the Mediterranean under his direction was not satisfactory. A court of inquiry decided that he had not "discovered due diligence and activity in annoying the enemy," and the President, with a precipitation difficult to be defended, dismissed him from the service without trial. 25

The United States government had determined to act with more vigor against the Barbary Powers, and in May, 1803, Commodore Preble was appointed to the command of a squadron, consisting of the Constitution, 44, Philadelphia, 38, Argus and Siren, 16 each, and Nautilus, Vixen, and Enterprise, 12 each. Preble sailed in the Constitution at the middle of August, and the other vessels followed as fast as they were made ready. The Philadelphia, Captain Bainbridge, had sailed in July, and on the 26th of August captured the Moorish frigate Meshboha, found holding in possession an American merchant vessel which she had taken as a prize. It was discovered that her commander was acting under the orders of the Moorish Governor of Tangiers to cruise for American vessels. The Philadelphia returned to Gibraltar with her prize.

On the arrival of Preble he determined to sail for Tangiers and make inquiries respecting the hostile proceedings of the Moors. He was accompanied by Commodore Rodgers, and on the 6th of October the Constitution, New York, John Adams, and Nautilus entered the Bay of Tangiers. Preble had an interview with the Emperor of Morocco, who disavowed the act of the Governor of Tangiers, and expressed a desire to remain at peace with the United States.

The difficulty with Morocco being settled, Rodgers sailed for home, and Preble made energetic preparations to bring Tripoli to terms. A serious disaster soon occurred. On the morning of the 31st of October the Philadelphia chased a Tripolitan ship into the harbor of Tripoli. In endeavoring to beat off she struck on a rock not laid down in any of the charts. Every effort to get her off failed, and she was attacked and finally captured by the Tripolitans. Bainbridge and his officers and men were made prisoners, and two days afterward the ship was extricated and taken into the harbor. The officers were treated as prisoners of war, but the crew were made slaves.

Bainbridge found means to report his misfortune to Preble at Malta, and to suggest the destruction of the Philadelphia, which was being fitted for sea. Preble had recently appeared off Tripoli for the first time. On the 23d of December the Enterprise, Lieutenant Decatur, sailing in company with the flag-ship, captured a ketch called the Mastico, then belonging to the Tripolitans, and bound to Constantinople with a present of female slaves for the Sultan. Heavy storms arose, and Preble and Decatur sailed into Syracuse, where the ketch was appraised and taken into the service, with the name of the Intrepid.

Decatur had formed a plan for cutting out or destroying the Philadelphia. It was approved by Preble; and on the 3d of February, 1804, he left Syracuse with orders and preparations to destroy her. The Intrepid was chosen for the service, and seventy-four determined young men sailed in her for the port of Tripoli, accompanied by the brig Siren, Lieutenant Stewart. Heavy storms delayed their operations until the 16th, when, in the evening, the young moon shining brightly, the Intrepid sailed into the harbor, and was warped alongside the Philadelphia without exciting suspicion, she having assumed the character of a vessel in distress. Most of the officers and men were concealed until the ketch was placed alongside the Philadelphia. Then, for the first, the Tripolitans suspected them. At the same moment Decatur and other officers sprang on board the frigate, followed by their men. In a few minutes the turbaned defenders of the vessel were all killed or driven into the sea. She was immediately set on fire, in the midst of the roar of cannon from the Tripolitan batteries and castle, and from two corsairs near. The scene was magnificent; and as the guns of the Philadelphia became heated they were discharged. The Intrepid was in imminent danger from the flames, but she escaped. Not one of the gallant Decatur’s men was killed, and only four were wounded. In the light of the conflagration the Intrepid, by the aid of oars, swept out of the harbor, where the boats of the Siren, with their strong sweeps, were in readiness to aid in towing her off. Before a pleasant breeze both vessels sailed for Syracuse, where the American squadron and the people of the town welcomed them with strong demonstrations of joy. For this heroic act Decatur was promoted to captain, and several of the other officers who accompanied him were advanced.

This bold act greatly alarmed the Bey or Bashaw of Tripoli, and the ensuing blockade of his port by Commodore Preble made him exceedingly circumspect. Finally, at the close of July [1804.], Preble entered the harbor of Tripoli with his squadron, and anchored the Constitution two and a half miles from the walled city, whose protection lay in heavy batteries mounting one hundred and fifteen cannon, nineteen gun-boats, a brig, two schooners, and some galleys, twenty-five thousand land-soldiers, and a sheltering reef of dangerous rocks and shoals. These did not dismay Preble. On the 3d of August, at three in the afternoon, he opened a heavy cannonade and bombardment from his gun-boats, which alone could get near enough for effective service. Conflict in closer range soon took place, and finally Lieutenant Decatur, commanding gun-boat Number Four, lay his vessel alongside one of the largest of those of the enemy, and boarded and captured her after a desperate struggle. 26 He immediately boarded another, when he had a most desperate personal encounter with the powerful Tripolitan captain. The struggle was brief but deadly. The captain was finally killed by Decatur at a moment of fearful peril, and the vessel was captured. 27 After a general conflict of two hours, during which time three of the enemy’s gun-boats were sunk in the harbor, three of them captured, and a heavy loss of life had been suffered by the Tripolitans, the Americans thought it prudent to withdraw, but to renew the conflict four days afterward.

The second attack on Tripoli commenced at half past two o’clock in the afternoon of the 7th [August.]. An hour afterward a hot shot from the town passed into the hull of gun-boat Number Nine, one of the prizes captured on the 3d, and fired her magazine. The vessel was destroyed, and with it her commander, Lieutenant Caldwell, of the Siren, Midshipman Dorsey, and eight of her crew. Six others were wounded. When the smoke cleared away her bow only was above water. On it were Midshipman Robert T. Spence and eleven men, busily engaged in loading the long 24-pounder with which she was armed. They gave three loud cheers, discharged the gun at the enemy, and a moment afterward were picked from the water by men in boats, for the wreck on which they stood, with its great gun, had gone to the bottom.

Again, after inflicting some damage upon the enemy, the Americans withdrew, but renewed the attack on the 24th of the same month. This was brief; and without any important results. But on the 29th a fourth and more formidable attack was made by the American gun-boats, commencing at three o’clock in the morning. The conflict continued until daylight, with great fury on both sides, when the Constitution ran toward the harbor, under heavy fire from the Bashaw’s castle and Fort English, She signaled the gun-boats to withdraw, correctly supposing their ammunition to be nearly exhausted. This was done under the fire of the Constitution, which, with grape and round shot, greatly damaged the gun-boats of the enemy and caused them to retreat. She then ran in, and opened a heavy fire upon the town, batteries, and castle. She soon silenced the guns of the castle and two batteries, sunk a Tunisian vessel, damaged a Spanish one, severely bruised the enemy’s galleys and gun-boats, and then withdrew, without having a man hurt.

The American squadron lay at anchor off Tripoli until the 2d of September repairing damages. It then sailed for the harbor, where it arrived on the afternoon of the 3d. The enemy, profiting by experience, had adopted new tactics. The change compelled Preble to modify his own plan. At half past three in the afternoon the bomb-ketches opened the conflict by bombarding the town. The Constitution ran down to the rocky reef and opened a heavy fire, at grape-shot distance, upon the castle and the city. She poured in eleven effective broadsides, while the smaller vessels were carrying on the conflict at other points. The general engagement lasted an hour and a quarter, when, the wind rising freshly, the commander, in the exercise of prudence, gave a signal for the squadron to withdraw.

The ketch Intrepid, used in the destruction of the Philadelphia, had been converted into a floating mine, for the purpose of destroying the enemy’s cruisers in the harbor of Tripoli. One hundred barrels of gunpowder were placed in a room below deck, and immediately above them a large quantity of shot, shell, and irregular pieces of iron were deposited. In other parts of the vessel combustibles were placed, and she was made in every way a most disagreeable neighbor. On the night succeeding the fifth bombardment of Tripoli she was sent into the harbor on her destructive mission, under the command of Captain Somers, who had behaved gallantly during the recent attacks on the town. He was assisted by Lieutenant Wadsworth, of the Constitution, and Mr. Israel, an ardent young officer, who got on board the ketch by stealth. These, with a few men to work the Intrepid, and the crews of two boats employed in towing her, composed the expedition.

At nine o’clock in the evening the Intrepid entered the harbor on her perilous mission. The night was very dark, and she soon disappeared in the gloom. Many eager eyes were turned in the direction where her shadowy form was last seen. All hearts in the squadron beat quickly with anxiety. Suddenly a fierce and lurid light streamed up from the dark bosom of the waters like volcanic fires, and illuminated with its horrid gleams the rocks, forts, flotilla, castle, town, and the broad expanse of the harbor, followed instantly by an explosion that made all surrounding objects tremble. Flaming masts and sails and fiery bombs rained upon the waters for a few moments, when all was again silence and darkness three-fold greater than before. Anxious eyes and ears bent in the direction of the dreadful explosion. The boats were waited for until the dawn with almost insupportable impatience. They never came, and no man of that perilous expedition was heard of afterward. Whether the explosion was an accident or a sacrifice – whether a shot from the enemy, or a brand dropped from a patriotic hand to prevent the ketch and its freight of men and powder from falling into the hands of the Tripolitans – can never be known. For more than sixty years the matter has been shrouded in impenetrable mystery. 28

Lack of powder and the approach of the stormy season of the year induced Commodore Preble to cease operations on the dangerous Barbary coast, other than the maintenance of the blockade of Tripoli. Not another shot was fired; and on the 10th of September [1804.] Preble was relieved by the arrival of Commodore Samuel Barron. He returned home late in February, 1805, bearing expressions of the highest regards from his officers, and received the homage of the nation’s gratitude. 29 Congress voted thanks to the commodore, and all who had served under his orders.


On Preble they bestowed a gold medal bearing appropriate devices and inscriptions. 30 Officers of the navy afterward caused a white marble monument to be erected at the government dock-yard near the National Capitol in memory of their brother officers who fell at Tripoli. 31


Commodore Barron found himself in command of a much greater naval force than the Americans had ever put afloat in the Mediterranean Sea. It consisted of the President, 44, Captain Cox; Constitution, 44, Captain Decatur; Congress, 38, Captain Rodgers; Constellation, 38, Captain Campbell; Essex, 32, Captain J. Barron; Siren, 16, Captain Stewart; Argus, 16, Captain Hull; Vixen, 12, Captain Smith; Enterprise, 12, Lieutenant Commandant Robinson, and Nautilus, 12, Lieutenant Commandant Dent. The John Adams, 28, Captain Chauncey, and the Hornet, 12, Lieutenant Commandant Evans, with two bombs and twelve gun-boats, were expected to join the Mediterranean squadron. It will be perceived that in this squadron, in actual command, were many of those who attained to great distinction during the War of 1812.

Barron’s flag-ship was the President. Leaving some of his force to overawe the menacing Moors, he kept up the blockade of Tripoli during the autumn and winter of 1804-5.

Meanwhile a land movement against Tripoli was conceived and executed under the management of Captain William Eaton, of the United States army, then consul at Tunis.

We have already observed that Hamet Caramalli, the right possessor of the beyship of Tripoli, had fled to Egypt. He had taken refuge with the Mamelukes. It was determined to make common cause with him against his usurping brother. Accordingly Captain Eaton, with three American officers, set out for Egypt [November 26, 1804.] to confer with him. Hamet joyfully accepted their alliance, and the Viceroy of Egypt gave him permission to leave the country. He left the Mamelukes with about forty followers, and joined Eaton westward of Alexandria, who was at the head of a small number of troops, composed of men of all nations. Early in March [March 6, 1805.] the allies, with transportation consisting of one hundred and ninety camels, started for Tripoli. They traversed portions of the great Desert of Barca, and the wild regions along the African coast of the Mediterranean for a thousand miles. Late in April [April 27.], in conjunction with two American vessels, they captured the Tripolitan sea-port town of Derne. After two successful engagements [May 18 and June 18.] with Tripolitan troops they approached the capital, confident of success, for their followers had become very numerous, when, to the mortification of Captain Eaton and the extinguishment of all the hopes of Hamet, they were apprised that Tobias Lear, consul-general on that coast, had appeared before Tripoli in the Essex, and made a treaty [June 4.} with the terrified Bashaw. 32

Thus ended the four years’ war with Tripoli. The ruler of Tunis was yet insolent, and Commodore Rodgers, who had become commander of the squadron in consequence of the failing health of Barron, anchored thirteen vessels before his capital on the 1st of August. The haughty Bey was speedily humbled, and sent an embassador to the United States.

The power of the American government was now acknowledged and feared by all the barbarians of the northern shores of Africa, and the commerce of the Mediterranean Sea was relieved of great peril. Pope Pius the Seventh declared that the Americans had done more for Christendom against the North African pirates than all the powers of Europe united. The cruising and belligerent operations of the American navy in the Mediterranean had not only accomplished this great good for the world, but had been an admirable school for the military marine of the United States. The value of the lessons taught in that school was manifested a thousand times during the war with Great Britain that ensued a few years later.

While these events in the Mediterranean, connected in the practical service on the part of the Americans with the War of 1812, were transpiring, political changes had commenced in Europe which speedily aroused the United States to a sense of the necessity of strengthening the naval arm of the government.

We have observed that the beginning of 1802 saw a general pacification of Europe, and that England paid obsequious court to Bonaparte, whose fascinations allured thousands of Englishmen to France. This "First Kiss in Ten Years," celebrated by the caricaturists, was the last for more than that space of time. First jealousy, then suspicion, and, finally, intense hatred of France and her ruler took possession of the English mind. These feelings were intensified by the act of the French Senate, who declared Bonaparte consul for life [August 3, 1802.], a declaration speedily sanctioned by the votes of three millions of Frenchmen. This was jealously regarded as a cautious step toward more absolute power, which England feared; and when, immediately afterward, first the Island of Elba [August 15.], then Piedmont [September 11.], then the Duchy of Parma [October.], were incorporated into the dominions of France, no one doubted that the First Consul would speedily set armies in motion for the greater aggrandizement of himself and the country of his adoption.

England professed to see in this accession of territory infringements of the Treaty of Amiens. Bonaparte retorted by accusing Great Britain of violating the spirit of treaties and endeavoring to disturb the peace of Europe, for which he was laboring, and assumed toward England a haughty and dictatorial tone that wounded her sensitive pride. He evinced a disposition to possess Malta; required England to drive royal French emigrants from her shores, where they had taken refuge; demanded a suppression of the liberties of the English press in its criticisms on French affairs, because it was regarded as his most dangerous enemy; and actually asked for a modification of the English Constitution. 33 He was charged with inciting another rebellion in Ireland, and distributing his secret emissaries, under the guise of consuls, all along the British coasts. 34

The cup of Bonaparte’s iniquity was finally made full to English comprehension when, at the beginning of March, 1803, he declared, in an official note to Lord Whitworth, the British embassador in Paris, that England, alone, can not now encounter France." That announcement, assuming the shape of a menace, raised a storm of patriotic indignation all over England, which found a loud echo in the House of Lords on the 9th of March. That indignation, not unmixed with alarm, became more intense when intelligence reached London that a Senatus Consultum on the 21st of March had placed one hundred and twenty thousand conscripts at the command of the French ruler. Still professing a desire for peace, the Addington ministry continued negotiations with Bonaparte. Finally, in May, the British minister at Paris, who had been personally insulted by the First Consul, and who had repeatedly warned his government that the negotiations on the part of the French ruler were deceptive, and contrived only to give time for hostile preparation, was ordered to leave the French capital. The British government immediately ordered the French minister to leave London, and on the 18th of May formally declared war against France, and put in immediate operation an embargo upon all French vessels in English ports. In retaliation, crowds of English visitors in the French dominion were seized and held as prisoners of war. 35 Immense bodies of troops were sent to the French coast, and menaced England with immediate invasion. Bonaparte superintended the preparations in person, established his head-quarters at Boulogne, on the roads to which finger-posts marked "To London" were erected, and every possible means were used to inflame the resentments of Frenchmen against their English neighbors across the Channel.

In England every art was also employed to excite the people against France and its ruler. Immense numbers of "loyal papers" and "loyal tracts" were scattered over the land, some being atrocious libels on Bonaparte and his family, fictitious accounts of his barbarities, and exaggerated pictures of his treatment of those countries which had bowed to his power; others were calm and dignified appeals to the patriotism and courage of the nation. It was evident to all that an invasion was probable, and yet wits, and satirists, and vulgar libelers hurled perpetual volleys of abuse and ridicule against Bonaparte and France, affecting, with ill-disguised trepidation, to look upon both with contempt. 36 This apparent gayety and unconcern was like the whistling of boys in the dark to keep their courage up. The government at the same moment was making immense preparations to repel the expected invasion, and the year 1803 was one of alarm and terror for all England. 37 She was the asylum of the Bourbon Royalists, who were the traditional enemies of all popular liberty and progress, the most implacable foes of the French ruler, and the sleepless and relentless conspirators against the lives of all who should stand in the way of their recovery of the throne from which the best of their lineage, Louis the Sixteenth, had been driven a few years before. These Royalists were petted by the English government and pitied by the English people; and this offense, above all others, exasperated Bonaparte, for he regarded England as the accomplice of the conspirators against himself and human freedom.

The British declaration of war, said Meneval (who was always at the elbow of the First Consul), changed his whole nature. 38 He had been planning vast beneficent schemes for France under the serene skies of universal peace, when England, of all the nations loudest in her professions of concord and sentiments of Christian benevolence, was the first to disappoint him – the first to again disturb the peace of Europe by brandishing high in air the flaming sword of war, instead of the green olive-branch of amity and good will. Compelled to accept the challenge, he resolved to give her war to her heart’s content.

Each party charged the other with acts of flagrant wrong against the peace and well-being of the world, and the record of impartial history implies that both spoke the truth. It is not our business to act as umpire on the question, or to delineate the events of the great war that ensued. We will simply consider the resulting effects of these international strifes on the peace and prosperity of the United States. The war was waged by both parties with an utter disregard of the rights of all other nations or the settled maxims of international comity. France and England entered the lists for the champion’s belt – for the supremacy in the political affairs of the world – and they fought with the science, the desperation, and the brutality of accomplished pugilists.

On the 18th of May, 1804, Bonaparte was proclaimed Emperor of the French, in accordance with a decree of the Senate [May 3.] and the votes of the people. To give more eminent sanction to the deed, the Pope was invited to perform the coronation ceremony. He consented, and on the 2d of December following Bonaparte was anointed by his holiness, at the great altar of Notre Dame, "The High and Mighty Napoleon the First." The republics which he had established by his sword were speedily changed into kingdoms, on the thrones of which members of his own family were placed. In May, the following year [May 26, 1805.], he was solemnly anointed King of Italy at Milan. Then he cast his eyes significantly over Europe, and contemplated a thorough reconstruction of its map. England, Russia, Austria, and Sweden, alarmed and provoked, coalesced against the "usurper," as Napoleon was called. Prussia was kept from the league only by a bribe, Napoleon having offered Hanover, which he had stolen from England, as the price of the king’s friendship. Very soon a French army one hundred and eighty thousand strong was upon the Rhine. On the 2d of December the strength of the Corsican was tested. Against him, near Austerlitz, appeared two great armies, each led, like his own, by an emperor. They met in deadly conflict. Napoleon was the victor. The Continental Powers withdrew from the contest. Prussia received Hanover as her reward, and England was left to fight the Emperor of the French single-handed. Napoleon proceeded to distribute crowns and ducal coronets among his friends and favorite generals with a lavish hand, and induced no less than fourteen German princes, who ruled over sixteen millions of people, to form a league, under the supremacy of France, known as the Confederacy of the Rhine.

Early in 1806 the English government, under the premiership of Charles Fox, opened with Napoleon negotiations for peace, the restoration of Hanover being one of the proposed conditions. Napoleon considered it, and on that account the King of Prussia, alarmed and offended, joined the coalition of the Northern Powers against him. The exasperated emperor marched upon Prussia, and, after slaying more than twenty thousand of the king’s subjects in arms, he entered Berlin, [October 25, 1806.] his capital, in triumph. Meanwhile the Russians had been beaten back through Poland, and he was in possession of Warsaw. Strong, bold, and defiant, and burning with a desire to humble "perfidious Albion," he issued from his camp at the Prussian capital the famous manifesto known in history as the Berlin Decree, 39 which declared the ports of the whole of the British dominions in a state of blockade, while a French vessel of war scarcely dare appear on the ocean to enforce it. This brings us to the immediate consideration of events in the United States, and the effects of the strife abroad upon American affairs.



1 The peace concluded at Luneville between the French Republic and the Emperor of Germany, after confirming the Treaty of Campo-Formio, stipulated that the Rhine to the Dutch Territories should form the boundaries of France, and recognizing the independence of the Bavarian, Helvetic, Ligurian, and Cisalpine Republics.

2 In the Treaty of Campo-Formio, between France and Austria, the latter yielded the Low Countries and the Ionian Islands to the former, and Milan, Mantua, and Modena to the Cisalpine Republic which Bonaparte had established in Italy. By a secret article, the Emperor of Austria took possession of the Venitian dominions, in compensation for the Netherlands.

3 See note 2, on page 83.

4 See note 1, page 84.

5 The Roman Catholics and the Protestant Dissenters in Ireland were subjected to cruel and insulting disabilities by the English in regard to both civil and religious privileges. In 1791 a society was formed, chiefly under the direction of Wolfe Tone, for the purpose of procuring Parliamentary reform in this matter. They were called "United Irishmen." They were also animated by republican sentiments, and a hatred of England as an oppressor. Inspired by events in France, these "United Irishmen," whose society extended all over the kingdom, resolved to strike for liberty and establish a republican form of government for Ireland. In this they received the aid of France. They nominated an executive directory in 1797. Their plans, carried on with the utmost secrecy, were ripe for execution, when they were discovered and denounced by a government spy. Many of the leaders were arrested, but an open, armed rebellion was suddenly developed all over the kingdom in May, 1798. Great Britain put forth its military power, then strong at home, in anticipation of an invasion by the armies in France, and the insurrection was crushed in the course of a few months.

6 France concluded a treaty of peace with Naples March 18, 1801; with Spain, March 21; with the Pope, July 15; with Bavaria, August 24; with Portugal, September 29; with Russia, October 4; with Turkey, October 9; and with Algiers, December 7.

7 This was a treaty between Great Britain, Holland, France, and Spain. The preliminary treaty had been signed on the 1st of October, 1801. The definitive treaty was signed by Lord Cornwallis, for England; Joseph Bonaparte, for France; Azara, for Spain, and Schimmelpenninck, for Holland.

8 Among those who went over at that time were Charles James Fox and his nephew, Lord Holland, Lords Erskine, Grey, and other leading men. These visits excited the ridicule of satirists. Gillray’s pencil was active. Several caricatures from his brain were speedily published. He ridiculed the visit of Fox and his friends in a caricature entitled "Introduction of Citizen Volprone and Suite at Paris," in which Fox and his wife, Lord and Lady Holland, and Grey and Erskine, are seen stooping low before the new ruler of France. One of the most popular of his caricatures was entitled "The first Kiss this ten years, or the meeting of Britannia and Citizen François." Britannia, who has suddenly become corpulent, appears as a fine lady in full dress, her shield and spear leaning neglected against the wall. The citizen expresses his joy at the meeting in warm terms. "Madame," he says, "permittez me to pay my profound esteem to your engaging person, and to seal on your divine lips my everlasting attachment!!!" The lady, blushing deeply, replies, "Monsieur, you are a truly well-bred gentleman; and though you make me blush, yet you kiss so delicately I can not refuse you, though I was sure you would deceive me again!" On the wall just behind these two figures are portraits of King George and Bonaparte scowling at each other. – See Wright’s England under the House of Hanover, ii., 391.

9 "There is one good tavern about forty rods from the Capitol, and several other houses are built or erecting," Oliver Wolcott wrote to a friend in the autumn of 1800; "but I don’t see how the members of Congress can possibly secure lodgings unless they will consent to live like scholars in a college or monks in a monastery, crowded ten or twenty in one house. The only resource for such as wish to live comfortably will be found in Georgetown, three miles distant, over as bad a road in winter as the clay grounds near Hartford. . . . There are, in fact, but few houses in any one place, and most of them small, miserable huts, which present an awful contrast to the public buildings. The people are poor, and, as far as I can judge, they live like fishes, by eating each other. . . . You may look in almost any direction, over an extent of ground nearly as large as the city of New York, without seeing a fence or any object except brick-kilns and temporary huts for laborers. . . . There is no industry, society, or business."

Mrs. Adams, wife of the President, wrote in November, 1800: "Woods are all you see from Baltimore until you reach the city, which is only so in name. Here and there is a small cot, without a glass window, interspersed among the forests, through which you travel miles without seeing a human being." Concerning the President’s house, which she speaks of as "upon a grand and superb scale, requiring about thirty servants to attend and keep the apartments in proper order, and perform the ordinary business of the house and stables," she said, "If they will put me up some bells – there is not one hung through the whole house, and promises are all you can obtain – and let me have wood enough to keep fires, I design to be pleased. I could content myself almost any where for three months; but, surrounded with forests, can you believe that wood is not to be had, because people can not be found to cut and cart it! Briesler entered into a contract with a man to supply him with wood; a small part – a few cords only – has he been able to get. Most of that was expended to dry the walls of the house before we came in, and yesterday the man told him it was impossible to procure it to be cut and carted. He has had recourse to coals, but we can not get grates made and set. We have, indeed, come into a new country."

10 The District of Columbia was a tract ten miles square, lying on each side of the Potomac, and ceded to the United States by the States of Maryland and Virginia, for the residence of the national government. The portion lying in Virginia was retroceded to that state a few years ago. The city of Washington was laid out there in 1791, and the erection of the Capitol was commenced in 1793, when, on the 18th of April, President Washington laid the corner-stone, with masonic ceremonies. The two wings were completed in 1808. The government, which had resided ten years in Philadelphia, moved to Washington in the autumn of 1800.

11 Thomas Jefferson was born at Shadwell, Albemarle County, Virginia, on the 13th of April, 1743. He was educated at William and Mary’s College, studied law with the eminent George Wythe, and was admitted to the bar while yet a very young man. He was a member of the Virginia Assembly before the Revolution, and won fame as a vigorous thinker and writer. He was elected to the Continental Congress in 1775, and in 1776, at the request of a committee of which he was a member, he drew up the Declaration of Independence. He was offered an embassy to France, but declined it on account of feeble health. In 1779 he was elected Governor of Virginia, and in 1780 retired from public life, and devoted his time chiefly to literary and scientific pursuits. He was sent to France in 1783, to join Adams and Franklin, as representative of his country, and in 1785 succeeded Franklin as minister at the French Court. He remained there until 1789, when he returned, and entered Washington’s Cabinet as Secretary of State. He remained in that position until 1793. He was elected Vice-President of the United States in 1796, and in 1801 was elected to the Presidency. He was re-elected in 1805, and in 1809 retired to private life, from which he was never again drawn. He died at his residence at Monticello on the 4th of July, 1826, in the 84th year of his age. Like Adams, he departed on the fiftieth anniversary of the Declaration of Independence. The profile of Mr. Jefferson, given on page 114, is from an impression from a private plate made in aquatinta about the year 1804, and presented by the President to the Hon. D. C. Verplanck, who was a member of Congress from 1803 until 1809.

12 The personal appearance of President Jefferson at this period may be imagined from the following description by William Plumer, United States senator from New Hampshire in 1802: "The next day after my arrival I visited the President, accompanied by some Democratic members. In a few moments after our arrival a tall, high-boned man came into the room. He was dressed, or rather undressed, in an old brown coat, red waistcoat, old corduroy small-clothes much soiled, woolen hose, and slippers without heels. I thought him a servant, when General Varnum surprised me by announcing that it was the President." – See Life of William Plumer, p. 242.

13 In a letter to Nathaniel Macon, of North Carolina, on the 14th of May, Mr. Jefferson indicated his policy as follows: "1. Levees are done away with. 2. The first communication to the next Congress will be, like all subsequent ones, by message, to which no answer will be expected. 3. The diplomatic establishment in Europe will be reduced to three ministers. 4. The compensation of collectors depends on you [Congress], and not on me. 5. The army is undergoing a chaste reformation. 6. The navy will be reduced to the legal establishment by the last of this month. 7. Agencies in every department will be revIsed. 8. We shall push you to the uttermost in economizing. 9. A very early recommendatIon has been given to the Postmaster General to employ no printer, foreigner, or Revolutionary Tory in any of his offices."

14 See the Statesman’s Manual, i., 242, where the President’s inaugural message is printed In full.

15 Mr. Jefferson appointed James Madison Secretary of State, Henry Dearborn Secretary of War, and Levi Lincoln Attorney General. He retained Mr. Adams’s Secretaries of the Treasury and Navy until the following autumn, when Albert Gallatin was appointed to the first, and Robert Smith to the second. These were both Republicans, and his Cabinet was now wholly so.

16 Mr. Jefferson dreamed, patriotically, of a consolidated national party and a brilliant administration. In a letter to John Dickinson, two days after his inauguration, he wrote, "I hope to see shortly a perfect consolidation, to effect which, nothing shall be wanting on my part short of the abandonment of the principles of the Revolution. A just and solid republican government maintained here, will be a standing monument and example for the aim and imitation of the people of other countries." Yet he early resolved on rewards to friends. To Colonel Monroe he wrote on the 7th of March, "To give time for a perfect consolidation seems prudent. I have firmly refused to follow the counsels of those who have desired the giving of offices to some of the Federalist leaders in order to reconcile. I have given, and will give, only to Republicans, under existing circumstances."

17 This doctrine was first announced in these words by the late William L. Marcy when he assumed the administration of the public affairs of the State of New York as governor in 1833.

18 Approved March 3, 1801.

19 These were the United States, Constitution, President, Chesapeake, Philadelphia, Constellation, Congress, New York, Boston, Essex, Adams, John Adams, and General Greene. These had an aggregate armament of 364 guns. The vessels sold were the George Washington, Ganges, Portsmouth, Merrimack, Connecticut, of 24 guns each; the Baltimore, Delaware, and Montezuma, of 20 guns each; the Maryland, Patapsco, Herald, Trumbull, Warren, Norfolk, Richmond, and Pinckney, of 18 guns each; the Eagle, Augusta, and Scamnel, 14 guns each; the Experiment, 9 guns, and nine galleys. – COOPER, i., 333-4.

20 Colonel Ebenezer Stevens, an active and eminent merchant of New York, and who had been a meritorious artillery officer during the Revolution, was employed by the government as its factor in forwarding the stores to Tunis. In May, 1801, Secretary Madison wrote to Mr. Stevens on the subject, saying, "It is desirable that the remaining cargo of maritime and military stores due to the Regency of Tunis should be provided and shipped without loss of time. The powder will be given to you from the public magazines, and the Navy Department will give orders to its agent at New York or elsewhere, as may be most convenient, to supply the cannon and such other articles as you may want and can be spared." – MS. letter. How much cheaper and more dignified it would have been to have sent the materials in ships of war, fully prepared, as they might have been, to knock the capitals of those semi-barbaric rulers about their ears, and sink their corsairs in the deep waters of the Mediterranean!

21 This was Jussuf Caramalli. He was a third son, and had obtained the seat of power by violence. He murdered his father and elder brother, and deposed his next brother, Hamet, the rightful heir, who at this time was an exile in Egypt, whither he fled to save his life, followed by quite a large number of adherents.

22 The rais or commander of the Tripoli was Mahomet Sous. Three times during the engagement the Tripoli struck her colors, and as often treacherously renewed the combat, when Lieutenant Sterrett determined to sink her. She was too much of a wreck to be taken into port – indeed, according to instructions, she could not be made a prize – and she was dismantled under the direction of Lieutenant David Porter. When her commander reached Tripoli, wounded and heart-broken, he was subjected to great indignity. He was placed upon a jackass, paraded through the streets, and afterward received the bastinado.

23 Richard Dale was born near Norfolk, Virginia, on the 6th of November, 1756. He went to sea at the age of twelve years, and continued in the merchant service until 1776, when he became lieutenant of a Virginia cruiser. He was an active officer during the whole war of the Revolution, and was with Paul Jones in his gallant action with the Serapis in September, 1779. He was then only about twenty-three years of age. He was a great favorite with Jones, and the latter presented to Dale the elegant gold-mounted sword which Jones received from the King of France. It is now in the possession of his grandson, Richard Dale, of Philadelphia, where I saw it in November, 1861. The handle, guard, and hilt, and the mountings of the scabbard are solid gold, with beautifully-wrought devices on them. Upon the blade is the following inscription: VINDICATI MARIS LUDIVICUS XVI. REMUNERATOR STRENUO VIRTUTI – "Louis XVI. rewarder of the valiant asserter of the freedom of the sea."

Dale left the service in 1780. In 1794 he was appointed one of the six naval captains by Washington. He was made commodore in 1801 by being placed in command of a squadron, and the following year he resigned. He retired with a competency, and spent the remainder of his days in Philadelphia, where he died in 1820, in the sixty-ninth year of his age.


The grave of Commodore Dale is in Christ Church-yard, on Fifth Street, Philadelphia. His monument is a marble slab, with the following inscription: "In memory of Commodore RICHARD DALE, born November 6, 1750, died February 24, 1826. An honest man, an incorruptible patriot, in all his relations conciliating universal love. A Christian without guile, he departed this life in the well-founded and triumphant hope of that blessedness which awaits all who, like him, die in the Lord." On the same slab is an inscription commemorative of the virtues of his wife, who died in September, 1832, at the age of sixty-five years. Very near this tomb is a handsome marble cross, erected to the memory of Montgomery, a son of Commodore Dale, also of the United States navy, who died In December, 1852, at the age of fifty-five years.

24 See Lossing’s Field-Book of the Revolution, ii., 640.

25 Richard Valentine Morris was the youngest son of Lewis Morris, of Morrisania, New York, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. He entered the service in early life, and in June, 1798, he was commissioned a captain in the navy. He was retained as fifth in rank at the reduction of the navy in 1801. His dismissal from the service has ever been considered a high-handed political measure. He died while attending the Legislature at Albany in 1814.

26 While Captain Decatur was thus gallantly assailing the enemy, his younger brother James, first lieutenant of the Nautilus, was as bravely emulating his example, in command of gun-boat Number Two. He had caused the surrender of one of the enemy’s largest vessels, and was boarding her to take possession, when the captain of the surrendered vessel treacherously shot him and escaped. The miscreant’s pistol was loaded with two balls connected by a wire. The wire struck Decatur on the forehead, and bending, the two balls entered his temples, one on each side, and killed him instantly. He was the only American officer killed in this engagement.


27 Decatur attacked the Tripolitan captain with a pike. The assailed seized it and turned it upon his assailant. Decatur drew his cutlass and attempted to cut off the head of the pike, when his weapon snapped at the hilt, and he was left apparently at the mercy of the Turk. He parried the thrust of the Tripolitan, and sprang upon and clutched him by the throat. A trial of strength ensued, and they both fell to the deck.


The Tripolitan attempted, as they lay, to draw a small poniard from his sash. Decatur perceived the movement, grasped the hand that held the deadly steel, and drew from his own pocket a small pistol, which he passed round the body of his antagonist, pointed it inward, and shot him dead. During the affray, Reuben James, a quarter-gunner, performed a most self-sacrificing act. One of the Tripolitan crew, seeing the perilous condition of his commander, aimed a sabre-blow at Decatur’s head. James, with both arms disabled from wounds and bleeding profusely, rushed between the Tripolitan and his commander, and received the sabre-stroke upon his own head. The blow was not fatal. Decatur took the dirk from his foe, and afterward presented it to Captain (now [1867] the venerable Vice-Admiral) Charles Stewart – from which the annexed drawing was made. One of the weapons – a powerful though not large sort of a sword or long knife, in a shark-skin scabbard – which was taken from the enemy by Decatur at that time, is delineated in the engraving on page 121. It is in the possession of F. J. Dreer, Esq., of Philadelphia. – See Waldo’s Life of Decatur, page 132.

28 Waldo, in his Life of Decatur, page 146, says that an eye-witness informed him that the evening was unusually calm; that as the Intrepid moved silently into the inner harbor, two of the enemy’s heaviest galleys, with more than a hundred men in each, captured the "infernal," wholly unconscious of her character. The impression was that Somers, knowing their fate to be miserable captivity if taken prisoners into the city, where Bainbridge and his men had then suffered for eleven months, considered death preferable, and with his own hand fired the magazine of the Intrepid. Under this impression a newspaper writer, after alluding to the capture, wrote with more feeling than poetry –

"In haste they board: see Somers stand,
Determined, cool, formed to command,
The match of death in his right hand,

Scorning a life of slavery.
And now behold! the match applied,
The mangled foe the welkin ride:
Whirling aloft, brave Somers cried,
‘A glorious death or liberty!’ "

29 Edward Preble was born in Portland, Maine, on the 15th of August, 1761. He early evinced a passion for the sea, and engaged in the merchant service. He became a midshipman in the naval service in 1779 in the state ship Protector. He afterward became lieutenant of the sloop-of-war Winthrop, and remained in her during the remainder of the war for independence. He was the first lieutenant appointed in the new naval establishment in 1798, and soon afterward made two cruises in the brig Pickering as commander. In 1800 he was made captain and placed in command of the Essex, in which he sailed to the East Indies to convoy American vessels. On account of ill health he withdrew from active service until 1803, when he went to the Mediterranean Sea. After his successful operations there he again withdrew from the service. In 1806 he suffered severely from debility of the digestive organs, from which he never recovered. He died on the 25th of August, 1807, at the age of forty-six years. To his memory a friend wrote in 1807 –

"Lamented chief! though death be calmly past,
Our navy trembled when he breathed his last!
Our navy mourns him, but it mourns in vain:
A Preble ne’er will live – ne’er die again!
Yet hope, desponding, at the thought revives –
A second PREBLE – a DECATUR lives!"

The likeness of Preble given on page 120 is from a portrait of him in Faneuil Hall, Boston.

30 The engraving on the preceding page shows the exact size of the medal. On one side is a bust of the commodore with the legend, "EDWARDO PREBLE, DUCI STRENUO COMITIA AMERICANA.". On the reverse, the American fleet bombarding the town and forts of Tripoli; legend, "VINDICI COMMERCII AMERICANI. Exergue – ANTE TRIPOLI, 1804."

31 The picture represents the monument as it appeared when first erected. It is of white marble, and with its present pedestal (not seen in the engraving) is about forty feet in height. It was mutilated when the navy yard at Washington was burned in 1814. It was afterward repaired, and removed to the west front of the Capitol in Washington, where it was placed upon a spacious brown-stone base in an oval reservoir of water. The monument, with this base, was removed to Annapolis, in Maryland, in 1860, and set up there in the grounds of the Naval Academy. In consequence of the Great Rebellion, in 1861, that academy was removed to Newport, Rhode Island. The monument was left. "It is situated," wrote Mr. William Yorke AtLee to the author in January, 1862, "on a hill in the northwestern portion of the naval school grounds. It is in a state of good preservation, and adds not a little to the beauty of the grounds."

The shaft is surmounted by the American eagle, bearing the shield. On its sides the representations of the bows of vessels are seen projecting, and by its pedestal is an allegorical figure of Fame in the attitude of alighting, with a coronal of leaves in one hand and a pen in the other. The form of the pedestal has been altered. On one side of the base, in relief, is a view of Tripoli and the American squadron; on the other the names of the heroes in whose memory the monument was erected. On three sides of the base are statues representing Mercury (Commerce), History, and America, the latter in the form of an Indian girl with a feather head-dress, half nude, and two children near. On the brown sandstone sub-base on which this monument now stands are the following inscriptions, upon three sides:

1. "Erected to the memory of Captain Richard Somers, Lieutenants James Caldwell, James Decatur, Henry Wadsworth, Joseph Israel, and John Dorsey, who fell in the different attacks made on the city of Tripoli in the year of our Lord 1804, and in the twenty-eighth year of the independence of the United States."

2. "The love of country inspired them. Fame has crowned their deeds. History records the event. The Children of Columbia admire, and Commerce laments their fall."

3. "As a small tribute of respect to their memory, and admiration of their valor, so worthy of imitation, their brother officers have erected this monument."

32 This treaty was not creditable. Although it was stipulated that the United States should pay no more tribute to Tripoli, It was agreed that $60,000 should be paid for captives then in possession of the Bashaw. Altogether better and less humiliating terms for the United States might have been obtained. All that Hamet gained was the release of his wife and children. He lost every thing else. He afterward came to the United States, and applied to Congress for remuneration for his services in favor of the Americans. His petition was denied, but $2400 were voted for his temporary relief.

33 The English Constitution is not a permanent instrument embodying the foundations of all laws, like that of the United States, but comprehends the whole body of English laws enacted by Parliament, and by which the British people are governed. The Constitution of the United States is superior to the Congress or National Legislature; the Parliament or National Legislature of England is superior to the Constitution. What Parliament declares to be the Constitution of England is the Constitution of England: what the Parliament enacts the monarch must be governed by, and the courts can not adjudge to be unconstitutional and void, Sheridan comprehensively said, "The King of England is not seated on a solitary eminence of power; on the contrary, he sees his equals in the coexisting branches of the Legislature, and he recognizes his superior in the LAW."

34 The latter charge was proven by the seizure of the papers of the French consul at Dublin, in whose secret instructions were the following passages: "You are required to furnish a plan of the ports of your district, with a specification of the soundings for mooring vessels. If no plan of the ports can be procured, you are to point out with what wind vessels can come in and go out, and what is the greatest draught of water with which vessels can enter the river deeply laden."

35 About twelve thousand English subjects of all ages were committed to custody.

36 Bonaparte was sometimes compared to a wild beast, at other times to a pigmy, and at all times as a blusterer to be laughed at. One morning London would be amused by a large placard announcing an exhibition thus: "Just arrived at Mr. Bull’s Menagerie, in British Lane, the most renowned and sagacious Man-tiger or Orang-outang, called Napoleon Bonaparte. He has been exhibited in Holland, Switzerland, and Italy, and lately in Egypt," etc. Another morning chapmen would offer in the great thoroughfares songs with words like these:

"Come, I’ll sing you a song, just for want of some other,
About a small thing that has made a great pother:
A mere insect – a pigmy. I’ll tell you, my hearty,
’Tis the Corsican hop-o’-my-thumb, Buonaparté."

Or boastful ballads In words like these:

"Arm, neighbors, at length,
And put forth your strength
Perfidious, bold France to resist!
Ten Frenchmen will fly,
To shun a black eye,
If one Englishman doubles his fist!"

The theatres were resonant with patriotic songs. One of the most popular of those sung in the play-houses, called "The Island," began with this stanza:

"If the French have a notion
Of crossing the ocean,

Their luck to be trying on land,
They may come if they like;
But we’ll soon make ’em strike
To the lads of the tight little Island!
Huzza for the boys of the Island!
The brave volunteers of the Island!
The fraternal embrace,
If foes want in this place,
We’ll present all the arms in the Island!"

Gillray and other caricaturists were exceedingly active at this time in ridiculing all parties, but especially Bonaparte. Some of these caricatures, which were grossly personal, annoyed the Corsican exceedingly, for he was extremely sensitive to any thing like ridicule against himself and family. The one which gave him most offense was a broad parody on Belshazzar’s Feast, by Gillray, which appeared in August, 1803, entitled "The Handwriting on the Wall." The First Consul and Josephine, his wife (the latter represented of enormous bulk), and other members of his family and court, are seated at table devouring the good things of England as a dessert. When Bonaparte first discovers the mysterious hand, his fork is stuck into St. James’s, seen on his plate. Another is swallowing the Tower of London, while Josephine is drinking large bumpers of wine. On a plate bearing the inscription "Oh de roast beef of Old England!" is seen a head of King George. Above the feasters a hand holds the scales of Justice, in which the legitimate crown of France weighs down the red cap and its attendant chain – Despotism under the name of Liberty. Behind Josephine stand the three afterward princesses of the imperial family – Borghese, Louise, and Joseph Bonaparte. A copy of this caricature is given in full in Wright’s History of the House of Hanover, illustrated by Caricatures and Satires. It is said to have greatly exasperated the First Consul and his friends.

37 On the 23d of July the germ of another rebellion in Ireland appeared at Dublin. The chief leader was Robert Emmet, an eminent barrister, who was implicated, with his brother, in the rebellion there in 1798. His followers proved themselves so unworthy of himself and the cause (which was the Independence of Ireland) that he fled in despair to the Wicklow Mountains. He might have evaded pursuit, but his love for his betrothed, the daughter of the famous Curran, caused him to linger. He was arrested, tried for and found guilty of treason, and hanged on the 20th of September following.

38 History of the Second War between the United States of America and Great Britain, by Charles J. Ingersoll. Second Series, i., 206.

39 The following is a copy of the decree:

"Imperial Camp, Berlin, November 21, 1806.

"Napoleon, Emperor of the French and King of Italy, considering:

"1. That England does not admit the right of nations as universally acknowledged by all civilized people;

"2. That she declares as an enemy every individual belonging to an enemy state, and, in consequence, makes prisoners of war not only of the crews of armed vessels, but those also of merchant vessels, and even the supercargoes of the same;

"3. That she extends or applies to merchant vessels, to articles of commerce, and to the property of individuals the right of conquest, which can only be applied or extended to what belongs to an enemy state;

"4. That she extends to ports not fortified, to harbors and mouths of rivers, the right of blockade, which, according to reason and the usages of civilized nations, is applicable only to strong or fortified ports;

"5. That she declares places blockaded before which she has not a single vessel of war, although a place ought not to be considered blockaded but when it is so invested that no approach to it can be made without imminent hazard; that she declares even places blockaded which her united forces would be incapable of doing, such as entire coasts and a whole empire.

"6. That this unequaled abuse of the right of blockade has no other object than to interrupt the communication of different nations, and to extend the commerce and industry of England upon the ruin of those of the Continent;

"7. That this being the evident design of England, whoever deals on the Continent in English merchandise favors that design, and becomes an accomplice;

"8. That this conduct in England (worthy only of the first stages of barbarism) has benefited her to the detriment of other nations;

"9. That it being right to oppose to an enemy the same arms she makes use of, to combat as she does when all ideas of justice and every liberal sentiment (the result of civilization among men) are disregarded,

"We have resolved to enforce against England the usages which she has consecrated in her maritime code.

"The present decree shall be considered as the fundamental law of the Empire until England shall acknowledge that the rights of war are the same on land as at sea; that they can not be extended to any private property whatever, nor to persons who are not military, and until the right of blockading be restrained to fortified places actually invested by competent forces.

"Art. 1. The British Islands are in a state of blockade.

"Art. 2. All commerce and correspondence with them is prohibited; consequently, all letters or packets written in England, or to an Englishman written in the English language, shall not be dispatched from the post-offices, and shall be seized.

"Art. 3. Every individual a subject of Great Britain, of whatever rank or condition, who is found in countries occupied by our troops or those of our allies, shall be made prisoner of war.

"Art. 4. Every warehouse, all merchandise or property whatever belonging to an Englishman, are declared good prize.

"Art. 5. One half of the proceeds of merchandise declared to be good prize and forfeited, as in the preceding articles, shall go to indemnify merchants who have suffered losses by the English cruisers.

"Art. 6. No vessel coming directly from England or her colonies, or having been there since the publication of this decree, shall be admitted into any port.

"Art. 7. Every vessel that by a false declaration contravenes the foregoing disposition shall be seized, and the ship and cargo confiscated as English property.

"Art. 8. [This article states that the Councils of Prizes at Paris and at Milan shall have recognizance of what may arise in the Empire and in Italy under the present decree.]

"Art. 9. Communications of this decree shall be made to the Kings of Spain, Naples, Holland, Etruria, and to our other allies, whose subjects as well as ours are victims of the injuries and barbarity of the English maritime code.

"Art. 10. Our ministers of foreign relations, etc., are charged with the execution of the present decree.


With a partiality toward the Americans that was practical friendship, the French cruisers did not, for a whole year, interfere with American vessels trading with Great Britain. On this point Alexander Baring, M. P., in his Inquiry into the Causes and Consequences of the Orders in Council, and an Examination of the Conduct of Great Britain toward the Neutral Commerce of America, said: "No condemnation of an American vessel had ever taken place under it; and so little did the French privateers interfere with the trade of America with this country, that the insurance on it was very little higher than in time of profound peace; while that of the American trade with the Continent of Europe has at the same time been doubled, and even trebled, by the conduct of our cruisers."



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