First Barbary War (1803-1805)
Occurring during Thomas Jefferson’s Presidency, the First Barbary War was fought from 1801-1805. The Barbary States were along the North African coast (Maghreb) and bordered the Mediterranean Sea. The States comprised Morocco (Tangiers) and the following capital cities: Algiers (Algeria), Tripoli (Libya), and Tunis (Tunisia).
Constitution, as the squadron flag ship, was under the leadership of three captains during the war: Edward Preble (5/14/1803 – 10/28/1804), John Rogers (11/9/1804 – 5/29/1806), and Hugh George Campbell (5/30/1806 – 12/8/1807).
Many of the battles were fought off “the shores of Tripoli,” which is the location referenced in the U.S. Marine Corps Hymn. During this time, Tripoli was a semi-independent province of the Ottoman Empire and was under the control of Yusuf Karamanli, known to America as the “Bashaw of Tripoli” (Pascha in Ottoman-Turkish). His castle, right along the coast, was protected by his naval fleet in the harbor and was incredibly close to the several battles that took place.
Fighting strong winds and adverse currents as well as Tripoline forces, the Mediterranean Squadron, led by Constitution, was able to negotiate with the Pascha and successfully sign a peace treaty. Constitution returned home four years and two months later on October 14, 1807, the longest amount of time the ship would ever be away from the United States.Read More