Event Summary

Bombardment of Algiers by Thomas Luny, 1819
Bombardment of Algiers by Thomas Luny, 1819

Barbary Wars, 1801-1805 and 1815-1816, from Office of the Historian, U.S. Department of State

The First Barbary War from Thomas Jefferson Foundation


For background on the beginnings of American Foreign Policy, see America and the Barbary Pirates from the Library of Congress.

See also How Did the United States Defeat the Barbary Pirates?

Avast! How the U.S. Built a Navy, Sent in the Marines, and Faced Down the Barbary Pirates, Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History

See this article in the New York Times for a view of the Barbary Pirates as an earlier form of state-sponsored terrorism.

A Sea Fight with Barbary Corsairs
A Sea Fight with Barbary Corsairs


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Primary Sources

Treaty of Tripoli (1796) Also known as the Treaty of Peace and Friendship

George Washington and Barbary Coast Pirates from the Papers of George Washington Project

The Barbary Pirates: Letter from Tripoli from Teaching American History.org

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Multimedia Resources


First Barbary War on YouTube


Congressional Gold Medal awarded to Stephen Decatur,1813
Congressional Gold Medal awarded to Stephen Decatur,1813

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Lesson Plans
The United States and the Barbary Pirates from Constitutional Rights Foundation

In Barbary Wars, Did the U.S. Declare War on Islam? from Politifact
  • Historians have established that religion did not play a dominant role in the Barbary wars.
    • "Very little of this had to do with Islam," said Adrian Tinniswood, author of Pirates of Barbary: Corsairs, Conquests and Captivity in the Seventeenth-Century Mediterranean. "It had much more to do with trading opportunities and economics."


U.S. Postage Stamp, Navy Issue of 1937
U.S. Postage Stamp, Navy Issue of 1937

Stephen Decatur


Commodore Stephen Decatur: An Early American Naval War Hero, from White House Historical Association



rotating gif.gifSee United States History I.22 for more on the Presidencies of George Washington, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson