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Barbary Coast /
First Barbary War
Also called: Tripolitan War



First Barbary War: Burning of the USS Philadelphia. Artistic representation.
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First Barbary War: Burning of the USS Philadelphia. Artistic representation.

First Barbary War: Tripoli around 1800. Artistic representation.
ZOOM - Open a large version of this image

First Barbary War: Tripoli around 1800. Artistic representation.

War between USA and Tripolitania, 1801-05. Tripolitania corresponded to modern northwestern Libya.
The background for the war was the continued attacks from Barbary pirates on US vessels in the Mediterranean Sea, and disagreements as to the level of tribute to be paid to the pirates. The pasha of Tripoli had demanded greater tribute paid, which was refused by the USA.
For some time, the US navy had been reduced, now special funds were allocated to it. It took some time to build, which is the main explanation to why the First Barbary War would continue for 4 years.
The outcome of the war would not be lasting, causing the need for the USA to fight a second war in order to secure their vessels from the attacks of pirates.

History
1801: Yussuf Karamanli, Pasha of Tripolitania, demands $225,000 from the USA to abstain from attacking their ships. USA refused.
May 14: Tripolitania effectively declares war on the USA through insulting US interests in Tripoli.
— Morocco, Algiers and Tunis would declare joint interest with Tripoli.
— USA sends a navy towards Tripolitania, whereupon Algiers and Tunis withdraws from the conflict.
1803: USA starts winning more battles in the ongoing war against Tripolitania.
October: USS Philadelphia runs aground outside Tripoli, and the ship is taken over and its crew hostaged.
1804 February 16: The USA attacks Tripoli, putting the USS Philadelphia on fire and freeing the US hostages.
July 14: US launches a series of attacks on Tripoli.
1805 April-May: Battle of Derna shifts the luck of the war. USA begins a blockade of the harbour and an expedition is sent from Egypt.
June 4: A peace treaty is signed, USA paying a symbolic ransom of $60,000 and Tripolitania freeing its about 300 US captives and abandoning all claims on US property. USA also freed its about 100 captives.




By Tore Kjeilen