Essay on Effects of Jeffersonian Strategy Against the Barbary Pirates

Published: 2021/11/09
Number of words: 697

During Thomas Jefferson’s reign, one most significant dilemma was a declaration of Barbary War, which happened throughout his two terms. It was the first war the United States had overseas whereby they had to pay for the protection of their sailors in shipments of commodities after British naval had stopped giving them security. The war resulted from Jefferson’s refusal to continue making the annual payments demanded to ensure safety of US captives held by the Barbary Pirates (Books, 2017). Jefferson felt that giving the Barbary Pirates what they ordered would not stop them from holding the US people captives; instead, they would continue as it was beneficial to their economy. Jefferson decided to send US military to force bombardment to the Barbary States around five times, making the pirates surrender (Nau, 2015). Jefferson’s act towards the Barbary pirates was against US policy. Even though it had negative implications, the US was finally able to secure the future foreign trade they had overseas and protect the American sailor.

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The Barbary States would hold the American ships and turn their sailors into captives after the British Navy had seized, protecting the American foreign trade. The Barbary Pirates threaten and harassed the American public and economy by continuously demanding ransom for the safety and security of the Americans. George Washington had been paying them the tributes, but once Jefferson was sworn in as the second president, the Barbary State increased the ransom, and when Jefferson declined their demand, they declared war. Jefferson response was to send U.S Navy to ensure they had maximumly protected American interest (Nau, 2015).

This step led to establishment of legal engagement of the Executive Branch into military operations counter to foreign enemies without congressional approval or a formal war declaration. Jefferson decision led to the loss of American soldiers’ and sailors’ lives. Also, it brought a negative image of a differential power between the president and the congress in the United States (Bickford III & Hendrickson, 2021).

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On the other hand, the war gave the Americans economic independence as the Barbary surrendered and finally seized to hold the American traders and sailors in demand for ransoms. Also, financial freedom came about as the Americans could easily access the Mediterranean Sea to reach the markets. Also, the step helps the United States regain a strong political self-respect image of power. Additionally, Jefferson’s effort towards the Barbary War led to the change in both domestic and foreign policy so that the proceeding presidents would not make the same mistakes even though, in Jefferson’s scenario, it was the best way to deal with the foreign intimidations (Spalding, 2010). To conclude, Jeffersonian’ strategy against the barbarian pirates was effective and powerful, even though it portrayed weaknesses in the United States ‘ government.


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Mullen, A. G. (2017). ” Good Neighbourhood With All”: Conflict and Cooperation in the First Barbary War, 1801-1805 (Doctoral dissertation, Northeastern University).

Myers, B. L. (2017). Engaging Globalization (Mission in Global Community): The Poor, Christian Mission, and Our Hyperconnected World. Baker Academic.

Nau, H. R. (2015). Conservative internationalism: armed diplomacy under Jefferson, Polk, Truman, and Reagan. Princeton University Press.

Spalding, M. (2010). America’s Founders and the Principles of Foreign Policy: Sovereign Independence, National Interests, and the Cause of Liberty in the World. Heritage website15.

Zimmermann, W. (2004). First Great Triumph: How Five Americans Made Their Country a World Power. Macmillan.

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