Thomas Jefferson and the Tripoli Pirates: The War that Changed American History

Viking. Apr. 2020. 176p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780425288955.
Gr 7 Up–When Thomas Jefferson became president in 1801, the Barbary pirates had been preying on merchant ships sailing in the Mediterranean’s international waters for centuries. Barbary pirates were from the North African countries of Morocco, Algiers, Tunis, and Tripoli. Nations (Great Britain and France) either had to pay exorbitant bribes or suffer the losses inflicted when the pirates raided their ships. In the 1790s, America made peace agreements with Morocco, Algiers, Tunis, and Tripoli that mandated paying the equivalent of one-eighth of the new government’s annual expenditures to the Barbary pirate states. The treaties were signed against the advice of Jefferson, but he was able to convince George Washington and John Adams to continue building new ships to replace the ones that had gone out of service at the end of the Revolutionary War. The first three American ships were launched in 1797 and, by the time Jefferson was elected president in 1801, the Barbary states were already demanding increases in American tribute. American ships blockaded the harbor of Tripoli in an effort to avoid war, but, during a resupply errand, the USS Enterprise and the Tripoli clashed, with the American ship defeating the Tripolitan ship. This marked the end of American appeasement. Back matter includes a time line, sources, and an index.
VERDICT A fast-paced young readers adaptation of the New York Times bestselling historical thriller. Recommended for students who like other works by Kilmeade, the history of the U.S. Navy, or factual accounts of piracy.

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