While Muslim terrorists kidnapped and killed innocent people around the world as they do today, Thomas Jefferson knew exactly how to end radical Islam’s bloodshed – with a classic American take-no-prisoners smackdown.
President Jefferson refused to play games when given the choice of appeasement or confrontation in the face of terror.
Historian David Barton told WND Jefferson led America’s first war against radical Islam. And the author of the newly released expanded edition of the bestselling book, “The Jefferson Lies” sees many parallels between the young republic’s struggle against the Barbary Pirates and the West’s current war against Muslim terrorists.
“The one thing Thomas Jefferson showed throughout his life is that he was diligent about and intolerant of violations of individual rights,” Barton said. “Jefferson was very clear that our people and property were entitled to protection wherever they go. And he was just as diligent to protect American rights in Europe and on the high seas as he was within America.”
During the period of the American Revolution and the early republic, American merchants and sailors were under constant threat from North African pirates from the Muslim powers known as the Barbary States. More than one million Europeans were captured and enslaved by Muslim raiders between the 16th and 18th centuries. One village in Ireland, Baltimore, was famously sacked and entirely depopulated by slavers.
Jefferson was well acquainted with this history. In Jefferson’s initial draft of the Declaration of Independence, he criticized the “Christian king of Great Britain” for engaging in slavery, which he termed “this piratical warfare, the opprobrium of infidel powers.” As the late Christopher Hitchens observed, “The allusion to Barbary practice seem[s] inescapable.”
But Jefferson also had firsthand experience with the motivations of Islamic slavers. While in London, Jefferson and John Adams spoke to the ambassador from Tripoli, Abd Al-Rahman, and questioned him on why the Barbary pirates thought they should war upon a nation that had never done them any harm.
The Muslim ambassador’s response was, “It was … written in their Quran, that all nations who should not have acknowledged Islam’s authority were sinners, that it was their … duty to make war upon them … and to make slaves of all they could take as prisoners.”
Barton argues it was this shocking response that drove both Adams and Jefferson to seek out their own copies of the Islamic holy book.
Barton said, “They were not placated by platitudes from one side or the other. They wanted to see for themselves. For them, it was a self-evident fact that when you read the Quran, you’ll see why they behave the way they do.”
“Jefferson’s attitude is that he would put an end to this kind of terrorism because had seen the country dealing with it for many years,” Barton explained. “He had seen Americans dealing with it for 15 years.” While Adams thought America simply could not afford a war, Jefferson demanded the United States cease paying the tribute demanded by the Barbary States. When Jefferson became president in 1801, the ruler of Tripoli demanded tribute, which Jefferson refused. The result was the First Barbary War. American forces suffered a setback when the U.S.S. Philadelphia ran aground and the crew was captured. However, Stephen Decatur became an American hero when he led an effort to burn the ship so the Mussulmen, as they were then called, couldn’t use it. Eventually, American forces were able to capture territory in the area and force a peace treaty, which freed the captured crew. The victories of these early American armed forces are immortalized by a stanza of the “Marines’ Hymn” which refers to the “shores of Tripoli.”