America – Our First War on Terror Special Presentation Part One: Today and tomorrow we have a special presentation by David Barton on the spiritual and historical perspective of America’s War on Terror. Many people don’t realize how far back this story goes! Tune in now to learn more!
Air Date:Â 09/18/2018
On-air Personalities: David Barton and Rick Green
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Transcription note: Â As a courtesy for our listeners’ enjoyment, we are providing a transcription of this podcast. Transcription will be released shortly. However, as this is transcribed from a live talk show, words and sentence structure were not altered to fit grammatical, written norms in order to preserve the integrity of the actual dialogue between the speakers. Additionally, names may be misspelled or we might use an asterisk to indicate a missing word because of the difficulty in understanding the speaker at times. We apologize in advance.
Faith And The Culture
Welcome to the intersection of faith and the culture. This is WallBuilders Live! Where we talk about today”s hottest topics on policy, faith, and the culture. We always do that from a biblical, historical, and constitutional perspective.
David Barton is America’s premier historian and he”s our founder here at WallBuilders and you’re going to be hearing from him today and tomorrow. It’s a special presentation he did on the Spiritual and Historical Perspective of America’s War on Terror.
And I remember the first time this topic came up on our radio program has been well over 10 years ago. And David mentioned, Rick, this is not our first war on radical Islamic terrorism. I said, “No, David, of course not. There’s that other war on radical Islamist terrorism.” And I knew nothing about it. I didn’t remember any of that from school, those Barbary Pirates and all of that that happened in the founding era. And David’s going to educate us on it today and tomorrow. You are going to love this program. It”s just chock full of a wealth of information.
We thought this was very important to do the week after the anniversary of 9/11. There just wasn’t even much news coverage this year on 9/11. We seem to already be forgetting the significance of what happened, and why it happened, and why it’s important for us to remain vigilant. So, today and tomorrow we are going to get a better understanding of this together. Here’s David Barton. It’s called A Spiritual and Historical Perspective of America’s War On Terror.
I want to speak to you about a spiritual and historical view of the War on Terror. This is a war that started in President George W. Bush’s first term and it was a long lasting war that extended over a number of years. But such a war with such an enemy is not a new thing in American history.
Two centuries ago we actually had a War on Terror under several famous Founding Fathers against the same enemy. We’ll talk about that later. But in talking about both the spiritual and historical background of the War on Terror, let’s start with the more recent modern war.
Starting With the Modern War
It involves so many nations that are around the Mediterranean Sea. Those in North Africa from Egypt as you move on around the Mediterranean Sea moving to the east. You have from Egypt, to Saudi Arabia, and you have Kuwait, and you move on up into Iraq, and Afghanistan, and you move over into Iran, and all these other nations. So, that is a big part of the War on Terror is around the Mediterranean Sea.
Now, let me take you back in the War on Terror and look at it from a historical and a spiritual historical perspective. There’s a great quote given by President Woodrow Wilson. He says, “A nation which does not remember what it was yesterday does not know what it is today nor what it’s trying to do.”
He said, “We’re trying to do a futile thing if we don’t know where we’ve come from or what we’ve been about.” When you look at the modern War on Terror and where it was primarily fought it was in the very region of the world where that first American War on Terror was fought two centuries ago. So, the most recent war was not the first time we were in that region of the world, but it was for the same purpose.
This is our second time to be in this region of the world fighting Muslim terrorists. The first time we spent 32 years being at war with Muslim terrorists. It was called The Barbary Powers War and we rarely hear about that in textbooks today. But that war against Muslim terrorists began at the end of the American Revolution and it went through four different presidencies – President George Washington, President John Adams, President Thomas Jefferson, and President James Madison all had to fight against Muslim terrorists during their administrations.
It was a situation where that at the time of the American Revolution there was international law that had been established for centuries. Legal writers like *Grocious and Pufendorf, and others, had helped establish international law and all the nations kind of got along on that international law.
How International Law Was Established
And international law said, “Well, when you’re out in the open seas, open seas belong to everybody. And here’s the amount of miles off your shore that belongs to you, these are your territorial waters. But once you get out in the deep seas that everybody’s got access to that. And that was the way it had been an international law.
Well, American ships had been sailing to Europe, and they’d been sailing throughout the Mediterranean, sailing to Russia who was an ally with us at that time, and a lot of our economy in the United States was based on shipping and commerce. We would trade what we had in America to other nations. And these commerce ships sailing back and forth, what happened was as we would go into these Mediterranean regions and Mediterranean Sea joined so many of these Islamic nations, as we went into that region the American ships for flying an American flag were the object of attack.
Five different Muslim nations would come after American ships and didn’t care that we were in international waters. Didn’t matter that there was international law. They went after the American ships and they attacked the American ships. And what they would do is they would capture the American sailors, the American crew, and they would imprison them, and they would make slaves out of them.
As a matter of fact, just this morning we purchased a newspaper– now, we’re very blessed, we have about a hundred thousand documents from before 1812. And this morning we added another one and it was a newspaper from Boston. And as a newspaper back way back at the time of the early presidents – Madison, Washington, and those, and it’s a report of one of the guys who’s just been captured by these these Muslim terrorists. He was a sailor on a ship and it was a ship that sailed out of Salem, Massachusetts. So, he’s on this ship and they were doing commercial trade.
And by the way, when they got attacked by these Muslim terrorists these commercial ships couldn’t defend themselves. Commercial ships might carry three or four cannons on their ship. They didn’t need to defend themselves. Everybody recognized international law. They would use these cannons to fire off powder charges in the fog to make sure that other ships knew they were around. But, really, defending themselves, that”s not what the cannons were for. You didn”t need to defend yourself as a commercial sailing ship, you were not a military ship and that’s fine. You can go through waters.
Letter From a Prisoner
But suddenly they’d get attacked with these 40 gun frigates, and these 60 gun frigates, and these Corvette ships that the Muslims had, and would come after these commercial ships. And there was just no contest, no way to defend themselves.
So, in this one particular letter– and by the way, the Muslim terrorist back then were attacking Americans because they said, “The Americans are Christians, we’re Muslims, we’re supposed to attack Christians.”
So, here’s the letter. It came out of the Boston Patriot Newspaper. It is from a man named Francis Garcia and he”s writing his dear wife. It’s dated September the 1st and I”ll just read you couple lines out of this. He says, “My dear wife–“ And he tells her that on 26 of August they were captured by an Algerian, Algiers, one of the Muslim nations, a ship from them, that they were stripped of all their clothing, and he said, “We’re now under severe lashes of a taskmaster and full of filth and misery.” He said, “To see Captain Smith who is unused to Labor with a heavy burden on his back, as well as myself, doubles the misery of my captivity.”
He said that they’re required to dig stones and drag those huge stones to the arsenal for the Muslims. At night he said, “We retire to this dismal cell where we hear nothing but curses and the like.” He said, “We sleep in the rocks and the mire.” He went on to say that they talked to the Swedish Council and he said, “The Swedish Council has given us some money to buy a second shirt and he’s given us an encouragement that the United States will not forget us.” “But as for me,” he says, “there’s no need of any assistance for death will soon relieve me, but I pray for Jesus” sake some means may be used for those who may survive.”
He says, “As for ever seeing you again, my dear wife,” he said, “it will be in that eternal world where sorrow, I hope, will be quite banished from my troubled mind. I die in the hope of the promises of the gospel of Jesus Christ and that He will present us unspotted before his Father. Farewell all my friends, farewell all my relations, farewell Salem, Massachusetts, farewell America. And last of all, farewell to you, my dear. I remain your loving husband, Francis Garcia.”
A Money Making Deal
Now, that was a letter from one of these sailors who had been captured by the Muslim terrorist who managed that letter managed to make it back to America. And while the Muslim terrorists would enslave these Americans, they soon found out that, “You know, if we will just simply take them, not necessarily enslave them, if we”ll sell them back to America for ransom, this is a money making deal.”
So, they continued to capture the Americans and any ship that wore an American flag they would attack. And they started selling the captain’s back to America for $6,000 dollars, the officers for $4,000, the sailors for $1500 dollars a head. That equates– buying a ship back would be about a million dollars today. It’s about a million dollars ransom to buy the crew back off of a ship. So, that’s how these Muslim terrorists were financing what they were doing. They were doing this to America.
Now, you look at that and say, “Well, why didn’t America do something about it? Real simple – we’re in the American Revolution. We don’t even have a Navy. How are we going to do anything? The British Navy was our Navy. We managed to convince the French to lend us their navy, but we don’t have a Navy. So, these commercial American sailing ships sailing all over the world, wow do you defend them when you can’t because we don’t have a navy? So, if you can’t be defended, when they attack and steal all these Americans and either enslave them or hold them for ransom to sell back, the only option you’ve got is pay the ransom or let them remain in slavery or be killed. Nothing else you can do.
Well, this was becoming such a frequent occurrence on American ships that in 1784 the Continental Congress– now, remember, we’ve finished the American Revolution in 1783. But in 1784 the Continental Congress said, “We’ve got to do something to try to negotiate with these Muslim terrorists.”
First Three Diplomats
So, what they did in 1784 was Congress dispatched the first three diplomats to negotiate with these Muslim terrorists. Those three diplomats were Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and Ben Franklin. They arrived over in Europe, they’re dealing, particularly, with five Islamic nations that are attacking American interests. And they’re trying to reach some type of accord with these guys.
So, here these three Americans are negotiating with five different nations. And one of the ambassadors, one of the Muslim ambassadors with whom they negotiated, Adams and Jefferson managed to develop a relationship with one of these Muslim negotiators. And after two years of negotiating with this guy they finally felt comfortable enough to ask him some very candid questions. We”re beyond the diplomatic stage now, we”ve just got to figure out how you think so. So, help us here.
So, Adams and Jefferson asked him some questions and the answers to those questions they recorded, and wrote down, and sent back to the United States State Department. Those documents are still at the State Department. You can actually see the documents online. But Jefferson and Adams asked this Muslim negotiator a very simple question. They said, “We really don’t understand why all the unprovoked attacks on all of these American interests. We’ve done nothing to you guys, we’ve had no better relations with Muslim nations. We certainly have never attacked you in any way. Why are you attacking us? Why all these unprovoked attacks?”
And here’s the answer given by the Muslim ambassador to Jefferson and Adams. And again, this is the answer that”s in the State Department records. “The ambassador answered us that it was founded on the laws of their prophet Muhammad, that it was written in their Qur”an, that all nations who should not have acknowledged their authority were sinners and that it was their right and their duty to make war on them wherever they could be found and to makes slaves of all they could take as prisoners. And that every Muslim should be slain in battle was sure to go to paradise.”
1.25 Million Made Slaves by the Muslims
Now, what they find out is it’s got nothing to do with what America’s done to us. “This is what we’re supposed to do” “This is what our holy book tells us to do. We’re supposed to attack you guys, we’re supposed to make war on you guys, we’re supposed to take slaves every time we get the–“ And by the way, in that period of time the Muslims took 1.25 million slaves during that period. They’re just following what the book tells them to do. “That’s what our prophet Muhammad told us to do and that’s what’s written in the Qur’an, that we’re supposed to subdue every nation that is not Islamic, and we’re supposed to make slaves.”
So, that’s what Adams and Jefferson learned for the first time. Which is a whole different way of thinking from what they’ve got. We in America continue to send other negotiators over because there were five nations. And another of them that negotiated that went over was William Eaton. William Eaton got over in his correspondence back to the State Department is all recorded and it”s all available for you to see. And William Eaton says, “The problem over here–“ he says, “The Muslims blame that the Americans are a feeble sect of Christians.”
Now, the significance of that statement is this is that the Muslims had targeted what they called the “Christian nations” and were attacking Christian nations. So, they were attacking Sweden, they were attacking France, they were attacking Great Britain, they were attacking Norway, they were attacking the United States. The difference is all the other nations had navies and they fought back.
Now, the Americans had no navy, we had no military. So, the muslims, as Eaton said, he said, “The Muslims believe that the Americans are a feeble sect of Christians.” “You guys don’t fight back. We attack you and you don’t do anything to us at all. What a bunch of weak, spineless, Christians you are.” And he said, he continued, this is still William Eaton. He said, “It’s a maxim of the Muslim states that, “The Christians who would be on good terms with them must fight well or pay well.”
In other words, we’re going to attack you because you’re Christians, we’re Muslims, we’re supposed to do that, and you’re either going to have a fine us really well or you”re going to have to pay us really well. And that’s the ransom that we were paying on these ships.
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As our negotiators are over there, Adams and Jefferson and Franklin, we came to reach treaties where we said, “Okay, we don’t hate Muslims, and you guys are attacking us. But here’s the deal – we’ll pay you a million dollars a year, or five million a year, or we’ll give you all these things, if you’ll not attack us. And that was called a tribute. We would give them tribute payments. And it was extortion. It was straight out extortion. So, we were signing these treaties with all these Muslim nations, and we’re having to renew the treaties.
Fight Well or Pay Well
So, we would give these annual stipulations and that’s the way it was when George Washington came to office, this is what Congress was doing. And the axium is that you have to fight well or you have to pay well. Well, he certainly couldn’t fight. The Army we did have we sent home at the end of the American Revolution and we didn’t believe in standing armies back then. If we needed the army we would tell them to go get their squirrel guns off the fireplace and come back and fight again. But that was without realizing that there were nations overseas who were beginning to attack us.
We were willing to defend our home ground. And when the British invaded us were willing to fight here. But now Americans in international waters are being attacked elsewhere and we’ve got no way to defend them. We have no military, so the only option we have is to pay well. And you’ll find that Washington had to do that, but he did not like it.
And as a matter of fact, by the time you get to 1795, which is the next to the last year of his administration, he’s in his second term, he’s halfway through the second term, and in 1795 amazingly 16 percent of the federal budget was spent in dealing with Muslim terrorism. Imagine that – one sixth of the entire federal budget under George Washington was directed at payments to these Muslim terrorists. We don’t have an army, so we have to pay and now one sixth the entire federal budget is these extortion payments.
You can imagine Washington was not a happy camper. He is a soldier, he’s been a soldier all of his life, he’s used to fighting enemies. Now, he’s having to pay them? He made a very clear statement, this what Washington declared, he said, “Would to heaven that we had a navy able to reform those enemies to mankind or to crush them into non existence.” He gave the axim, he said, “To be prepared for war is one of the most effectual means of preserving peace.” It was at this point that Washington really took America in a new direction. We didn’t have standing armies, didn’t believe in standing armies, we now see a need for a standing army.
So, George Washington says, “Look, we’ve got to have a military to defend Americans across the world. Â He went to Congress 1795 and he asked for military appropriations to build a navy. We’ve got to have a navy, so we can go over there and take care of these terrorists. It”s the first time we made any advance toward a permanent military was in 1795 as a result of the War on Terror that was going at that time.
The Father of the American Navy
So, 1795 who makes that appeal, Congress approves it. Now, in 1795 George Washington’s vice president was John Adams. Now, John Adams has already been a negotiator over. He’s very familiar with that part of the world. So, John Adams now becomes president. In 1796 he’s elected, sworn in 1797, he becomes president. And he vigorously pursues the building of the United States Navy. As a matter of fact, to this day John Adams is still called The Father of the American Navy. It all got put together during his administration.
Washington starts it, calls for it, gets the first funding started. But Adams really pursues it. Now, here’s President Adams. He’s seen this, he’s seen what’s going on, he’s finally got a navy, he can put the Marines on the ship ,and the Navy can sail them overseas and they can take care of those terrorists. And John Adams doesn’t do it. Now why would John Adams not do that? Why would he not go after those terrorists?
Well, Adams had been there. He had negotiated with those guys. He knew how they thought. You know what he said? Adam said that he didn’t want to send the military over because he didn’t think the American people had the stomach for a prolonged war. And he knew that if they got in a war with those terrorists it was going to last for a while. He just, knowing the American people and knowing what the terrorists were like, he knew that if we went after them it was going to last for a good while and he just didn’t think the American people would stomach that. So, he didn’t do it.
Well, he was a president for four years. The next president that comes in is Thomas Jefferson who is also one of those original negotiators. So, here’s Jefferson. Now, he’s got a navy and he’s been over there and Jefferson has a whole different attitude from John Adams. He says, “We’re going over there, we’re going to free those Americans, and we’re going to thump those terrorists, and this is not going to happen again.” So, he made an announcement of brand new policy. He was no longer going to pay the payments. Washington made the payments, Adams made the payments, but Jefferson’s not going to do it.
One Fifth of the Federal Budget on Muslim Terrorists
And by the way, when Jefferson came into office the budget was up to 20 percent of the federal budget was spent on dealing with Muslim terrorists. So, now one fifth of the federal budget is dealing with Muslim terrorists and Jefferson said, “No more”. This is his quote, he said, “I was very unwilling that we should acquiesce on the humiliation of paying a tribute. I very early thought it would be best to effect a peace through the medium of war.” He said, “We’re going to have peace, but not the paying. We’re going to have peace buy sending the Marines and the Navy over there.”
So, he did. He dispatched the first military expedition and it went to the same region of the world where we’re fighting the War on Terror right now. That military expedition was led by General William Eaton. Now, William Eaton had been an early ambassador over there. Now, he’s been made a general and he’s taken the military over, he’s in charge of this military expedition, because he’s been over there, he’s negotiated, he knows them, he knows how they think, he knows that region the world, he knows the topography, the geography, he knows the culture. So, he’s leading the military expedition over.
There was a second prong that was sent under the command of Commodore Edward Preble. So, our first military expedition goes over. We”ve got the brand new Navy sailing the Marines over. And by the way, if you think about the Marine Corps hymn it says, “From the halls of Montezuma to the shores of Tripoli” why Tripoli? Well, Tripoli was one of those five Islamic nations that was attacking the Americans. So, Tripoli, to the shores of Tripoli, the Marine Corps hymn actually refers to the very first war against Muslim terrorists way back under Thomas Jefferson.
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General Eaton gets there, he unloads the Marines, they start marching across the country dealing with the terrorists. And after it was all over he has the memoirs of his life and he wrote it all out and told about what happened in that war. It says that he marched across the desert from Egypt and on through and he says in his memoirs, on the title the book, it says “several years in office in the United States Army counsel or diplomat at the Regency of Tunis on the coast of Barbari and commander of the Christian and other forces that marched from Egypt through the desert of Barca in 1805, conquered the city of Derna, which led to the treaty of peace between the United States and the Regency of Tripoli.”
Now, Tripoli, interesting title to use. You may have heard something about what’s called the Treaty of Tripoli. The Treaty of Tripoli, Alan Colmes, and other secularists love to cite this. If you say, “Oh America has Christian principles.” They say, “No way. Treaty of Tripoli, done in 1797, says this. Article 11 says, “The Government of the United States is in no sense founded on the Christian religion.” So, what do you say about that?”
A Period Makes a Difference
I was on Alan Colmes radio program for an hour and that’s all he could talk about was, “Barton, you’re all wrong. The founding fathers weren”t Christians and they didn’t have Christian foundations because The Treaty of Tripoli 1797 says, “The Government of the United States is in no sense founded on the Christian religion.”” Tripoli was one of those five Muslim nations that was attacking Americans. And I can pointing out to Alan, “Alan, you put a period in the middle of the sentence. That’s not what Article 11 says. Here’s what Article 11 says, “The Government of the United States is in no sense founded on the Christian religion that has a hatred of the laws, religion, and tranquility of Muslims.”
What we said is, “Guys, we’re not the Christians that hate Muslims.” Now, you’ve had that in Europe. We went through the Inquisition, and the Crusades, and all these Christian nations were attacking Muslim nations. You had the star chambers, and you had the torture, and the Inquisition, where they were– you had church leaders saying, “Hey, Christians, you want to do something good for Jesus? Go find a Muslim, cut his head off–“ So, that was happening. And Muslims at the stake.
So, the Muslim say, “We’re repaying all you Christians for what you did to us in the Inquisition, and the Crusades, and when the Spain’s expelled the Moors. So, we’re repaying you for all that.
And the Article 11 of the Treaty of Tripoli says, “Wait a minute, we’re not those Christians. We’re not Christians that have a hatred of Muslims. That’s not who we are.” And in America we made that real clear. As a matter of fact, Daniel Webster, in comparing American Christianity with European Christianity, he said, “Fortunately–“ he said, “American Christianity is Christianity to which the sword and the burning stake are unknown. It’s general tolerant Christianity that”s a law in America.”
America – Our First War on Terror Special Presentation Part One
So, we don’t use burning at the stake, we don’t put you to the sword if you don’t believe right. American Christianity is not like that. Other founding fathers said the same thing. John Jay, founding father of the Supreme Court, chief justice of the original one, said, “American Christianity was enlightened when compared to European Christianity.” John Adams called American Christianity “rational” when compared to European Christianity. And John Quincy Adams called American Christianity “civilized” as compared to the rest of the world.
John Adams, John Quincy Adams, John Jay, Webster, all these guys said that. And matter of fact, maybe the best summation is given by Thomas Jefferson. This is what Thomas Jefferson said, he said, “The comparisons of our government with those in Europe is like a comparison between heaven and hell.”
Friends, we are at a time for today. We’re going to pick up tomorrow right where we left off today. You’ve been listening to David Barton. It’s a CD called A Spiritual and Historical Perspective of America’s War on Terror. It’s available right now at WallBuilders.com. Be sure to tune in tomorrow for the conclusion. Thank you for listening to WallBuilders Live.
Thank you for reacquainting me with this history. The song lyrics about Tripoli make a neat trivia package to share. Looking forward to tomorrow’s lesson.
Where can I find the sound bite that covers America’s first war on terror? Many of your radio program commercial sound bites are very interesting and I would love to share them on social media.
Greetings! David actually has a presentation on this. It is called A Spiritual & Historical Perspective of America’s War on Terror and can be found on our website. David does have this information available in a couple of archived programs as well. They can be found at:
I hope this information helps!