A lesser-known early military conflict of the United States. For centuries, it had been a tradition of European nations to pay tribute to the Barbary powers (Tangiers, Algiers, Tunis, and Tripoli) in exchange for immunity from attack by corsairs, or government sanctioned pirates. After the United States gained independance, it was no longer protected from corsairs by Great Britian, and thus began paying tribute. In 1801, the Pasha of Tripoli demanded an increase in the amount of money paid for tributes, from $100,000 per year to $225,000 per year plus $25,000 in goods. The United States refused and on March 10, 1801, the Pasha of Tripoli declared war by cutting down the American flag at the consulate.

Commodore Dale arrived at Tripoli with three frigates and a schooner and blockaded the Tripolitan port for 18 days. As Navy enlistments were for one year only, Dale was soon replaced by Commodore Richard Morris. He was an incompetant leader, and instead of maintaining the blockade, as he was ordered, he became active in Maltese social circles. One year later, he finally began maintaining the blockade and made a failed attempt to attack Tripoli by day. He was quickly replaced by Edward Preble in 1803.

Soon afterwards, the frigate Philadelphia ran aground while chasing a Tripolitan ship. The Philadelphia was captured and its crew taken prisoner. On February 16, 1804, Lt. Stephen Decatur, Captain of the USS Enterprise, led a band of men into Tripoli and destroyed the Philadelphia.

Preble soon began the bombardment of Tripoli on July 25, 1804. Captain William Eaton attacked the city of Derna on April 26, 1805 with a force of 1,200 men, being supported by three American ships in the harbor. The city surrendered to Eaton at 4:00 that day. On June 4, 1805, Tripoli signed a peace treaty with the United States, receiving over $60,000 for the release of American prisoners.

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