Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Algerine War (1815)

Algerine War (1815)

PRINCIPAL COMBATANTS: United States vs. Algerian
corsairs (pirates)

PRINCIPAL THEATER(S): Barbary Coast of Algiers

DECLARATION: Dey of Algiers declared war because he
was not receiving enough tribute money from U.S.
shipping interests.

shipping vessels in the Mediterranean

OUTCOME: The U.S. capture of an Algerian flagship forced
Algerians to agree to release American prisoners,
establish a neutral zone for shipping, and compensate
U.S. shipping interests for losses incurred.

U.S. sent 10 vessels

CASUALTIES: American, 4 killed, 10 wounded; Algerian
corsairs, 53 killed, 500 taken prisoner

TREATIES: Treaty of Algiers, June 30, 1815

American trade in the Mediterranean in the 19th century
was dependent on safe passage through the waters of Barbary
states of Algiers, Morocco, Tripoli, and Tunis. Piracy
against U.S. shipping had been a problem since President
Thomas Jefferson’s (1743–1826) TRIPOLITAN WAR, fought,
in part, over the seizure of the American warship Philadelphia
in 1804. That dispute was formally settled in 1805,
but lingering anti-American sentiment remained, and in
1815 another war broke out between Algerian pirates and
the United States.
The WAR OF 1812 monopolized the resources of the
U.S. Navy, forcing merchant ships to sail the hostile Barbary
seas without protection. Piracy and impressment
escalated during the period of the war, and the navy, its
hands full, was unable to respond. Immediately after the
War of 1812, President James Madison (1751–1836) dispatched
Commodore Stephen Decatur (1779–1820) with
10 vessels to the Barbary Coast for the purpose of once
again securing safe passage for American vessels. In 1815
Decatur captured the Algerian flagship Machuda, which
forced the Algerians to the bargaining table. A treaty was
concluded that guaranteed the release of all American
prisoners and established a neutral zone for shipping. The
Algerians also agreed to compensation for losses incurred
and to bring to an end the practice of collecting tribute.

Further reading: Donald Barr Chidsey, The Wars in
Barbary: Arab Piracy and the United States Navy (New York:
Crown, 1971); James Tertius de Kay, A Rage for Glory: The
Life of Commodore Stephen Decatur, USN (New York: Free
Press, 2004).

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