ALERT: Dome Restoration Project Necessitates Rotunda Closure April 12 through April 28.
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Barbary pirates preyed on ships off Africa's western and Mediterranean coasts for centuries. After U.S. independence, Britain withdrew protections for American ships formerly stipulated in treaties with the Barbary States. In the 1780s and 1790s, pirates captured and enslaved many American sailors, demanding exorbitant ransom payments. After diplomatic means failed, Congress authorized the creation of the U.S. Navy to prevent further raids on American commerce.