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Practice English Speaking&Listening with: In Search Of History - Pirates Of The Barbary Coast (History Channel Documentary)

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be gentle now on the History Channel stories from the pages of time stories

of triumph and tragedy adventure and achievement

as we go in search of history

in the late 1700s the fledgling nation of America awoke to a startling reality

US trade ships in the Mediterranean were being overrun by pirates who terrorized

American crews held them for ransom even sold them into slavery these outrages

would lead to a little-known war as we go in search of history for pirates of

the Barbary Coast northern Africa's sun-baked barbary coast of Morocco

Algeria Tunisia and Tripoli now known as Libya has been a pirates haven for


for the Barbary Coast Buccaneers most of them Muslim the lucrative spoils of

piracy were a mainstay of their nations economies by the 1600s it had evolved

into virtually a business it was a major source of income and support for the

rulers of these four states basically what they did was made a national policy

of always been at war with somebody then you sold a piece sometimes sold it for a

flat rate sometimes for annual tribute sometimes a

combination of the two

the Barbary pirates patrolled the waters of the Mediterranean demanding tribute

or ransom for safe passage the hefty tributes help to maintain local

economies and prop up the regime's of leaders called Pasha's or days for

centuries in the area the Mediterranean world

these vassal states along the north coast of Africa facing the Mediterranean

had it as their business to control the waters nearby their Shores they were in

a way sort of early exponents of the 200-mile limit they believed that if you

sailed within their waters which they defined as being pretty far out you had

to pay tribute

trade vessels from around the world were compelled to submit to these conditions

in order to sail the Mediterranean waters without interference from pirates

in most instances the European nations England France Sweden Spain Portugal had

over the years worked out a rather an arrangement with the Barbary Corsairs by

which annual tribute was paid and by that payment they were buying an

insurance policy that then allowed their vessels to sail through those waters

unmolested the richer countries of the world didn't mind paying in order to

keep the peace Great Britain even hoped to bankrupt other nations by driving up

the going price of tribute England and France could afford to pay off Algiers

and then turn the Algerians on to their enemies this was a way of keeping down

their commercial competition so there was a saying in England and in France

and in Holland that if there were no Algiers we would have to build one

because louis xiv is supposed to have said this because it benefited france to

have algiers capturing france's rivals the British commercial men were supposed

to have said this because it benefited England and Dutch merchants also were

supposed to have said this these countries could afford to pay a large

tribute because they did so much business in the Mediterranean

but by the late 1700s there was a new presence on the international scene the

United States of America the young and hungry Federation of States was eager to

trade with the nations of the world but the upstart country was in for a rude

awakening when its merchant ships arrived on the Barbary Coast as long as

the American colonies were part of the British Empire we were protected by the

Royal Navy and we were covered under that umbrella insurance policy

after independence though after 1783 we were no longer part of the British

Empire and now as an independent nation we the United States of America had to

deal with the Barbary States

the problem during the 1780s is the government doesn't have the enough money

to either bribe them or to build a navy and fight them the Barbary Buccaneers

had an uncomplicated strategy for their business of piracy

they often simply waited for ships to enter the Mediterranean Sea then sailed

alongside them and what the Barbary Corsairs did is they set up a toll gate

and you paid at the toll gate if you paid and went through the toll gate then

everything would be just fine if you didn't pay at the toll gate then they

would attack and capture you and hold you for ransom hold you up make you

force you to pay tribute the consequences of being taken prisoner

were far worse for some seafarers than others

the Pirates instituted a class system for their hostages how you treated these

captives depended on who they were if they were a captain or a passenger or

officer you would often give them basically the freedom of the city now if

you weren't someone like this who you were in rags and but generally they kept

you chained together sometimes they chained two three four people together

sometimes they chained you individually to a heavy weight the American prisoners

were put to work building fortifications for algerian cities with their fate

contingent on whether ransom would be paid some died from disease or

malnutrition while waiting for american intervention

ships from the embattled United States soon became known as easy prey for the

Barbary Coast pirates the United States was born into a very hostile world no

one wished us well certainly the English didn't wish us well they weren't good

losers the French had been our allies during the revolution but now they were

our rivals and certainly the Barbary Corsairs did not wish us well either we

had virtually no defense for our trade we had no Navy a number of Americans

were already enslaved at hard labor in algerian prisons its reputation and

expansion threatened the young america faced a dilemma would it follow in the

tradition of other world powers and pay tribute to the Barbary Coast pirates

buying freedom for those captured or would its political leaders challenged

the stranglehold of the Mediterranean Corsairs

by 1785 more than 20 American sailors were captives in algerian prisons

President George Washington sent emissaries to the Mediterranean to

discuss ransom arrangements but America couldn't leave behind any fighting ships

to ensure continuing peace Washington was more concerned about the outbreak of

war between the French and the British which he saw as a greater danger to US

interests President Washington had a lot of other problems other than the two

dozen American sailors in Algiers he appointed Jefferson to be Secretary of

State and one of the first things Jefferson did was to draw up a report on

Mediterranean trade and Jefferson said there are essentially three things the

United States can do in to secure peace and trade in the Mediterranean one a

tribute to Algiers Tripoli in Tunis to leave the Mediterranean altogether or

three and build a navy to subdue the Algerians the trepal items and the

Tunisians Jefferson's findings received a

decidedly mixed reaction from government leaders in Washington

nobody was eager to engage in a war on the other side of the world simply to

ensure trouble-free training

the ultimate goal is free and safe passage through their waters we need to

be able to sail through those waters in order to do business and that is

fundamental we need to be trading in the Mediterranean and the Barbary Corsairs

are an obstacle to trade this is not an issue of imperialism this is not an

issue of conquering territory this is a matter of business commerce and trade

still the Barbary States plundered and pillaged and will this enraged Jefferson

who took a much harder line than Washington though he was opposed to

funding a large Navy Jefferson recognized the threat the Barbary

Corsairs posed to America's tenuous standing as an emerging world power in

his opinion something had to be done but still America's political leaders

hesitated and it wasn't until finally in 1794 when it grew so wearisome when the

problem could no longer be ignored that President Washington managed to persuade

the Congress to authorize the construction of six frigates six large

sailing warships

it didn't seem like much at the time but the new legislation marked the birth of

the United States Navy the landmark legislation passed over the objections

of Jefferson and other Republicans who saw it as a violation of states rights

but a compromise was found to placate Jefferson and other southern politicians

if peace was achieved with Algiers only three ships would be built just one year

later Algiers signed a treaty and hostilities were suspended as a result

the US Navy began very humbly with just three vessels

they became the first vessels in the new American Navy the most famous is USS

Constitution she was launched in Boston in October of 1797 commissioned in

Boston still afloat oldest commissioned warship in the world

the following year John Adams defeated Thomas Jefferson in the race to become

the second president of the United States Jefferson was named vice

president but the two men clashed over the issue of whether to pay ransom to

the Barbary Corsairs you've got Adam saying you know it's a matter of trade

it's a matter of doing business pay the money and let's get on with business you

got Jefferson saying it's a matter of Honor the American people want justice

and if we demand justice and respect for the United States we'll gain stature in

Europe sighs piracy again plagued American merchant ships in the

Mediterranean and the Barbary pirates seemed emboldened by America's failure

to respond

by the time Thomas Jefferson won the presidency in 1800

he realized that bribes to Barbary States totaled over two million dollars

more than one-fifth the total income of the US government to that date yet the

president who had advocated the use of force while holding lower offices seemed

to turn gun-shy back in the 1780s Jefferson had said we

need to fight them but when Jefferson comes into office Jefferson is more

interested in balancing the budget reducing the national debt and he makes

a drastic cuts in the Navy and he tries to negotiate with these Corsairs and he

is willing to pay them off at this point but the price is simply too high Yussef

the cunning and mercurial Pasha of Tripoli soon forced Jefferson's hand

in the spring of 1801 the greedy Yousef demanded outrageous tributes from the US

when America declined payment he chopped down the flag in front of the American


things really began to heat up with Tripoli in 1801 and they really began to

torment us and annoy us in ways and to a degree of seriousness that hadn't been

achieved before cutting down the American flag was a declaration of war

and America reacted accordingly Jefferson ordered a squadron of four

ships already in the Mediterranean to attempt a military blockade the fleet

was too small and the effort was a dismal failure to make matters worse

America's best fighting ship the Philadelphia ran aground and was

captured by Barbary pirates on October 31st 1803

over 300 American sailors were herded into Tripoli tunisians Philadelphia

represented maybe a third of American naval power in terms of guns in the

Mediterranean at this time so when the Tripoli Tain's

take it in are they refloated and they were working to rearm it and remastered

and so forth the balance of power would fundamentally shift to their favor in

the Mediterranean if that ship can be put back into commission by them though

it was undeclared the United States was now truly at war with Tripoli and

already at a disadvantage president Jefferson took swift and

decisive action he sent his new Commodore of the Navy to the Barbary

Coast to remedy the situation

command of the American squadron was given to Commodore Edward treble Preble

was from Maine he was a had officer a very hot and difficult and an extremely

competent officer

Preble sailed into Tripoli Harbor only to find that the pride of America's

fledgling Navy was now in the hands of Barbary pirates with his tiny fleet

could Preble hope to win this undeclared war and negotiate a lasting and

favorable peace with one of the fleet's best fighting ships now controlled by

the Barbary pirates commander Edward Preble faced a critical decision should

he try to retake the Philadelphia or destroy her Preble settled on

destruction and asked for volunteers to lead the dangerous mission a courageous

25 year old Navy lieutenant named Stephen Decatur was the first to raise

his hand Stephen Decatur had a way of commanding people from an early age he

never backed away from a fight he frequently took on people much bigger as

a child so he exhibited a lot of leadership qualities early on he was a

devoted patriot and at that time in American history that's what was needed

everyone knew that he was a very emotional individual everyone knew that

he had a very fine sense of honour everyone knew that he was fearless

Decatur had already distinguished himself as a young Navy officer but

clearly he had aspirations beyond his immediate station the world of the

sailing warship was a world that we in the late 20th century would have great

difficulty comprehending a tight world a dirty world a confining world a world

that was constantly filled with tension and it was in that world that Stephen

Decatur this lieutenant functioned a man of great bravery boldness and absolutely

impetuous and filled with ambition he wanted nothing more than to be famous

the events that followed would help ensure Decatur's place in history on the

night of February 15th 1804 Decatur stashed his crew below decks on a boat

called the Intrepid and launched his assault on the Philadelphia still held

by Barbary pirates

he sailed the Intrepid into the harbor at Tripoli and he came up with a daring

plan which was to disguise it as a merchant ship but he had the pilot

speaking a fluent Italian to the people who were on the Philadelphia so as not

to arouse any suspicion Decatur's boat tied up next to the unwitting

Philadelphia and the brave young lieutenant led the attack to defend

America's honor

once they've tied up very quickly someone aboard the Philadelphia

discovered who they were screams Americanos but by then it's too late the

Americans swarmed over them

almost immediately Decatur in the sixty Americans and others came aboard the

Tripolitan ship and overwhelmed the Tripolitan crew driving them off of

the ship a lot of them dove into the water and quite a number were killed in

this action and then Decatur and his men went below deck and started fires at

every possible point where they could came off the ship back on to the

Intrepid and sailed out of the harbor

with the Pasha's cannons blazing and the flames from the Philadelphia lighting up

the night sky Decatur and his men returned to the safety of the American

squadron the unprecedented raid had been successful perhaps even beyond Decatur

zone wildly ambitious dreaming news the Philadelphia was completely destroyed

and Decatur and his men had left Tripoli Harbor without losing a single man in

this operation Lord Nelson the British Admiral said "This was the most bold and

daring naval act of the age" and Nelson was someone who knew about bold and

daring naval acts

Back home the news of Decatur's victorious attack thrilled an American

public starved for good news about their country's fighting efforts this was a

new symbol that American sailors like Decatur could perform acts like this

acts of courage and skill in destroying this ship so it had an immediate impact

in the United States and Jefferson recognized its importance as soon as he

heard of this he proposed promoting Decatur to captain and Congress voted to

give Decatur a sword he was the youngest commissioned captain in the Navy at the

age of 25 a record that has not been broken yet Decatur's uncommon bravery

had not been exhausted by the attack on the Philadelphia his brother James also

a Navy sailor had himself been fighting Barbary pirates in ongoing gun battles

when James boarded a Tripolitan ship that had surrendered the pirate captain

suddenly pulled a gun and shot him dead

the news soon reached Stephen Decatur on his nearby gunboat when Decatur hears

this he's incensed and he immediately turns back now Decatur has aboard his

gunboat less than a dozen men he turns around Wade's back into the fight where

his brother had been and in virtually a fit of rage attacks him Decatur avenged

his brother's death by killing in hand-to-hand combat the Barbary captain

who had taken James's life the exploit added even more luster to his growing


with momentum suddenly on his side after the burning of the Philadelphia in July

Commander Preble laid siege to Tripoli which was defended by 25,000 troops 24

warships and 155 cannons Preble flotilla of just seven American vessels bombed

the city for four days in August of 1804 but the Tripolitans showed few signs

of backing down the Americans were outnumbered and to

the dismay of the many brave young officers who served under him

Preble's tour of duty was ending

basically Preble has laid the groundwork for victory by the time he leaves but

then he's superseded in command he returns to the United States and his

successors and it's Samuel Baron is less pugnacious his successor is interested

in negotiating a peace when commander Samuel baron arrived on the Barbary

Coast two months later to replace Preble he sailed with the largest u.s. squadron

ever assembled more than 20 fighting ships he also brought with him a man who

unwittingly would forge a place for himself in the lore of America's

fighting forces his name was William Eaton and he had long been critical of

America's actions toward the Barbary States he was a military officer he had

been a colonel in the American army in the 1790s after trying to pursue a

number of different careers he had taught school for a while he had engaged

in business and then he had been appointed to the army and in 1798 he was

appointed American Consul to Tunis Eaton had been in the United States and had

tried to convince the United States that it should invade this area that it

should send an army he of course got no support the idea of sending American

troops across the Atlantic was simply beyond consideration by a government at

that time by the spring of 1805 and had hatched an audacious scheme to

end the four year old war with the Barbary States the plan didn't generate

much support from commander Maron who granted even the only a tiny fighting

unit of one midshipman and eight US Marines which Eaton managed to augment

with a few hundred Arab, Greek and Albanian mercenaries yet the exploits of

Eden's ragtag fighting force would make history and would help inspire the

Marine Hymn still sung proudly to this day when American adventurer William

Eaton arrived in the Mediterranean in the spring of 1805 Tripoli still held more

than 300 American prisoners in his hellish prisons

the conventional wisdom was that the only way to subdue Tripoli and the other

Barbary States was by dominating the seas the audacious Eton had other plans

to overthrow Yusuf the Pasha of Tripoli and replace him with Yusuf's

brother Achmed. Yusuf had seized power from

Achmed in 1795 and Achmed even though he was the older brother was not a very

charismatic figure and was not a very good ruler

Eaton conceived really an ingenious idea that if the United States have could set

up met up and Darrin the true Politan people would rally to his support

because Yousef was a great tyrant. Eaton was granted a small Expeditionary Force

consisting of one midshipman and eight Marines to implement his plan his next

challenge was to find Achmed who had been driven into exile by Yusuf Eaton

was taken to Egypt because by this time Achmed had disappeared again he kept

wandering around the Mediterranean eaten finally tracked him down in Egypt and

they signed an agreement that Achmed would make eaten a general in this

expeditionary force and Eaton would raise an army of Arabs Albanians various

mercenaries along with some American marines even led his ragtag army of

Marines and mercenaries across six hundred miles of treacherous North

African desert and the plan is to march across the desert where they'll

rendezvous with three ships from the u.s. mediterranean squadron and then

they'll jointly attack the city of Derna which is the second largest city in

tripoli and as they march across the desert the brother

the Pretender is able to recruit more and more soldiers by the time they get

there he's got about a band of about 600 that arrive outside the city of Derna

just surviving the hostile desert had been miraculous now the army of eatin

and off met was gathered outside the walls of Derna preparing to attack there

they meet up with the three US Navy ships and with the ship's firing on the

fork from one side they attack it from the land side and capture they move from

there to occupy in the city and once they occupy the city they of course

announce that this is that the free Libya with a legitimate ruler so on

behalf of the United States and up met Cara Manley the American flag is planted

over the city of Darrin the first time it will fly over a captured foreign city

but then two things happen which really stunned

William Eaton first the people of Tripoli failed to rally to Achmed cause

the people seemed to like use of Kara manly much more than they like his

brother so there isn't a popular rebellion second off the coast of Darrin

appears an American ship and Eaton believes at first its bringing

reinforcements to supply them on their march to Tripoli but instead it brings

news that the United States and Yusuf have signed a peace treaty under which

the United States and Tripoli agree to an exchange of prisoners

stunned by what he perceived as a betrayal by the US government Eaton had

precious few options he fled Derna along with Achmed insisting all along that

Yousef could have been toppled had he been allowed to march on Tripoli Eaton

goes back to the United States and he's furious with the Jefferson

administration Eden's bitter disappointment over the incident in

Tripoli led to a downward spiral that finally culminated in a lonely death in


still his brave but misguided coup was forever etched in the annals of US


I suppose we're meetin is best remembered because of the Marines him

from the halls of Montezuma to the shores of Tripoli and to the shores of

Tripoli are the Marines who join with William Eaton and Hammond Cara Manley on

this assault against the Tripoli Tain's

the treaty with Tripoli was soon followed by another with Tunis and for

the next five years the United States enjoyed peace along the Barbary Coast

America's attention was soon redirected to the war of 1812 the war heroes like

Stephen Decatur continued to distinguish themselves in that struggle the fighting

took its toll on American trained during the conflict the British blockaded the

Mediterranean the US Navy couldn't enter Mediterranean waters so unprotected

American merchant ships once again began to fall victim to the Barbary pirates

the old troubles began anew

by then James Madison had been elected president of the United States long a

proponent of Jefferson's aggressive policy toward the Barbary problem

Madison wasted no time in making the unofficial war a matter of public record

he declared war on Algiers on March 2nd 1815 it's immediately at the end of the

war of 1812 that our government decides it has to do something about this

President Madison immediately dispatched to u.s. naval squadrons to the

Mediterranean one sailing under the steady hand of Stephen Decatur renowned

as the fearless officer who had torched the Philadelphia and captured the

imagination of the American public the first hero of the Barbary Wars

now commanding a ten vessel American squadron was Stephen Decatur the man to

end the barbering Wars

eleven years after sailing into Tripoli Harbor aboard the tiny intrepid Stephen

Decatur returned to the Barbary States in 1815 with orders from President

Madison and an impressive squadron of American fighting ships under his


Decatur got there and outside of the Straits of Gibraltar for the flagship

the Algerian Navy captured that and then sailed into port and as he said dictated

peace terms at the mouth of a cannon and after doing this he toured the other

three states and closed treaties on them

arriving in Tripoli Decatur was treated as a hero by the very men against whom

he'd fought a decade earlier his forceful demeanor and swiftly negotiated

peace treaties restored American honour and secured the Seas for American ships

within days of Decatur's arrival America's long-running Barbary wars were

over but Stephen Decatur the first hero of the new American Navy would one day

find that his fame would earn him mortal enemies

in 1808 Decatur was called upon to act as a judge at the court-martial of

Captain James Barron the brother of Samuel Baron who had once replaced

Edward Preble as commander of the Mediterranean fleet

Barun was on trial for cowardly actions against a British warship and Decatur

was among those who voted against him in doing so

Decatur created an enemy for life

in 1819 Decatur finally acquiesced to Berens repeated challenges to duels the

date for the blood match was set for March 22nd 1820

Decatur and Aaron met at Bladensburg Maryland and Decatur I believe said will

buy at eight paces and Decatur and also said he would aim low so as not to

mortally wound his opponent

the two men fired at precisely the same instant and both were wounded the bullet

that struck Decatur ricocheted off his hip and tore through his abdomen

but he fell almost instantly and Baron fell as well and there within 10 feet of

each other and they both think they're going to die so Baron says he forgives

decatur from the bottom of his heart and decatur accepts this

Barun recovered from his injuries but Decatur expired a few days later in his

last words Decatur lamented that he had not died in

the service of his country Decatur's funeral was a great state funeral every

public official in Washington came out to mourn Stephen Decatur who had been

the bravest of the American sailors of the war against Tripoli and one of the

heroes of the war of 1812

I think Stephen Decatur's legacy is one of patriotism and love of country and

that was an important thing at the beginning of the 19th century when the

Navy was forming by the time of Decatur's death piracy along the Barbary

Coast had reached its end the British perhaps inspired by America's hardline

stance adopted a more confrontational strategy that proved effective but the

British sent a fleet to Algiers which bombards Algiers and Algiers in the wake

of the British attack agrees to suspend all capturing of Christian ships this

really pretty much puts an end to capturing of ships by Barbary powers in

1830 the French invaded jeers and colonize it with that the tranquil

waters of the Mediterranean once the domain of the feared Barbary pirates

were safely open to the ships of the world and America's memory of the

Barbary Wars seemed to fade into the background

Americans don't like to remember that we were so weak that our trade our ships

can be pushed around by these tiny little North African states we also

don't like to remember the fact that we paid tribute to them for over 20 years

of one sort or another and lastly we don't like to remember that after the

capture of Derna in our peace treaty with Tripoli we abandoned this man who

was our ally though overshadowed by larger conflicts like the Civil War and

the world wars of the 20th century the Barbary wars were critical to America's

development the United States Navy was created for the specific purpose of

safeguarding American merchants from Barbary pirates and the Marine Corps

established itself as an overseas fighting force for the first time in the

assault on Tripoli

the wars also led to the end of sanctioned piracy in tribute and a

long-standing American presence in the Mediterranean Sea a presence that

continues to this day

historians see still other effects of the war with the Barbary States the

United States accepted the fact that if you're going to defend American rights

American interests American trade around the world you're going to have to have a

naval presence

Americans become very interested in the idea of honor and how we're going to be

treated and perceived overseas and we follow a policy almost of retribution

any time we find American men mistreated an American ship captured or something

we go out and punish the people who did it

and so in a way the Babri courses were convenient for us it allowed us to

engage in a war that we could and that we did win the Barbary wars were also

important because they were a training ground for American naval offices the

men who had come to lead the American Navy learned their trade in the Barbary


despite being fought nearly 200 years ago the Barbary wars brought about

changes that continue to reverberate in the modern world a reminder that even

little-known conflicts echo for generations as we go in search of


The Description of In Search Of History - Pirates Of The Barbary Coast (History Channel Documentary)