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Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the size of the Barbary Navy, ca. 1799–1800

While Thomas Jefferson served as Minister to France (1784–1788) and Secretary of State (1789–1793), he advised Congress on securing peace with Algiers and urged using naval power to combat piracy rather than paying ransom or tribute. Jefferson later made these notes on Barbary State fleets while Vice President (1797–1801).

Manuscript Division, Library of Congress

Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the size of the Barbary Navy, ca. 1799–1800 Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the size of the Barbary Navy, ca. 1799–1800

Protection from Piracy - 2

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.