The Pirate Coast: Thomas Jefferson, the First Marines, and the Secret Mission of 1805

The Pirate Coast: Thomas Jefferson, the First Marines, and the Secret Mission of 1805

Richard Zacks

Language: English

Pages: 464

ISBN: 140130849X

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

A real-life thriller, now in paperback--the true story of the unheralded American who brought the Barbary Pirates to their knees

In an attempt to stop the legendary Barbary Pirates of North Africa from hijacking American ships, William Eaton set out on a secret mission to overthrow the government of Tripoli. The operation was sanctioned by President Thomas Jefferson, who at the last moment grew wary of "intermeddling" in a foreign government and sent Eaton off without proper national support. Short on supplies, given very little money and only a few men, Eaton and his mission seemed doomed from the start. He triumphed against all odds, recruited a band of European mercenaries in Alexandria, and led them on a march across the Libyan Desert. Once in Tripoli, the ragtag army defeated the local troops and successfully captured Derne, laying the groundwork for the demise of the Barbary Pirates. Now, Richard Zacks brings this important story of America's first overseas covert op to life.

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secret. This marks an extraordinary change: Hamet was induced to leave Derne on the promise of regaining his wife and sons and daughters. Now, unbeknownst to him, he would be on probation for four years, and then he would have to hope that the United States would still be interested enough to force the Bashaw’s hand into fulfilling the bargain. From any angle, this was subterfuge. (Eaton, when he first heard of it in late 1807, called it far worse: a “national disgrace,” a “dishonor.”) Lear, in

sacrificed through a misguided oeconomy. The debate over the treaty was just starting, but no one yet wanted it to interfere with the hero worship. Disgruntled, but at least not this minute, Eaton embraced his stardom. Accompanied by a fourteen-year-old Egyptian and four Arabian horses, Eaton headed north from Richmond toward Washington by stagecoach. The carriage lurching over the rutted roads no doubt reminded him of his worst days at sea. At Fredericksburg, Virginia, on Sunday, November

“uncandid.” Secretary of State Madison buttonholed John Quincy Adams, a Federalist, to push for ratification of the Tripoli treaty. The atmosphere was growing testier. Smelling blood, some Federalist senators were talking about steering the next presidential election away from Jefferson’s handpicked successor, James Madison. Nonetheless, Jefferson’s discreet lobbying worked. The Bradley Report was sent back to a committee with two new senators aboard, John Quincy Adams (Federalist,

later confirm Bainbridge’s command at a Court of Inquiry. “All sails were instantly set to force her over the bank,” testified Lieutenant Porter, who added a touch cattily: “After this did not succeed, Captain Bainbridge asked the witness’s opinion.” At that moment, the Tripoli blockade runner, which had been darting away, now hove to and rolled out its guns for the first time. A couple miles beyond that vessel, more than a dozen ships bobbed inside Tripoli harbor. (The U.S. schooner Vixen would

troops remained poised on the hill, a menacing silhouette. According to Captain Hull’s account, Hamet was informed of the enemy’s position and he ordered about 300 men to ride out to meet the enemy. “At 1/2 past 9 the parties met and began a brisk fire, which lasted about fifteen minutes.” The brief battle ended when Hamet’s troops, outnumbered, dissolved back into Derne. About 300 enemy horsemen pursued them in the winding streets of the town. From out of the limestone houses, from gaps in the

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