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Barbary Pirates Essay

733 words - 3 pages

In the early sixteenth century, the powers of the Ottoman Empire grew weary of Europe’s vigorous pursuit of territory, indigenous peoples of which they would take command, and use of natural goods. Piracy as harassment and deterrent began in the Mediterranean with the Barbarossa brothers along the North African coastline, starting in Algiers. As privateering against Spain drew to a close privateers looked elsewhere to continue their craft and found a home with the Barbarossa brothers. (Woodward, 2004) Eventually, Europe struck a treaty with the Barbary States to end the continuing war between the powers and brought relative safety to the waters. Those in treaty with the Barbary States ...view middle of the document...

A share of any prizes taken by a corsair or privateer would normally be paid to the sovereign, and this legal authorization was what set the actions of a corsair apart from those of a common pirate. However, in practice, the activities of pirates and corsairs were not always easy to distinguish, and the extent to which the countries involved were actually at war with each other was often extremely unclear…” (English.oxfordjournals.org)

In its initial days of independence U.S. diplomats had to determine the manner in which they would handle the vicious raids carried out in the Mediterranean. Should they fight the aggressors or comply with their demands for “protection payments”? If they chose to resist a tribute payment or fight an international incident or even full-scale war was a high risk. In the end, to quell further attacks the United States paid great amounts to the Barbary States in exchange for the safe passage of its ships. “The nascent U.S. government sought help from its French allies and even tried to get protection from Barbary written into the peace treaty with Britain. Thomas Jefferson, while a diplomat in France, explored collective action against Barbary among European...

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