The Capitol Visitor Center will close at 1 p.m. on December 24 and December 31. We are also closed Christmas Day and New Year's Day.
Pirates from the Barbary States preyed on ships off Africa’s western and Mediterranean coasts for centuries. After gaining independence, the U.S. lost British protection on the seas. In the 1780s and 1790s, pirates captured and enslaved many American sailors and demanded exorbitant ransoms for their return. With diplomatic means failing, Congress authorized the creation of the U.S. Navy to defend against further attacks on American commerce.