By JASON REYNOLDS
Tennessee Christian News
NASHVILLE — Muslims murdering and enslaving Americans under the name of their religion. U.S. military battles against Islamic aggressors in far-off locations. Lack of foreign credibility. National deficit. Political intrigue.
You might think this is referring to current events on the evening news. But it’s all from a new history book about America’s first war as an independent nation.
America’s first war
“Thomas Jefferson and the Tripoli Pirates: The Forgotten War That Changed American History” details America’s war against the Islamic Barbary nations in North Africa at the end of the 1700s and the early 1800s. This was a time when the new United States did not have a true military might, was looked down upon by foreign powers and was desperate to establish foreign commerce to build a robust economy.
Brian Kilmeade of the Fox News Channel along with Don Yaeger have written the book after conducting extensive research that included using the resources of the National Archive and working with such scholars as Dr. Larry Sabato of the University of Virginia.
Kilmeade and Yaeger are also the authors of the New York Times bestseller “George Washington’s Secret Six,” which tells the largely unknown story of Washington’s service as a spymaster during the American Revolution.
Supporting the USO
Kilmeade held a book signing and cocktail party last Thursday at the Hutton Hotel in Nashville to raise money for the USO Fort Campbell Center, a non-profit agency that provides comforts and services to soldiers at the base. The center served more than 87,000 guests in 2015 and needs to replenish supplies, including games, coffee, a cooler and office supplies, plus sheet sets for barracks for soldiers who are redeploying (at a cost of $12 per item).
The center’s Keurig machine died, and the replacement cost is $150, according to the USO. Candy bars cost 87 cents per item, and at a volume of 86,550, the cost is $75,299. Those are the types of items that Kilmeade’s book signing helped with.
During his presentation Thursday, the Fox News journalist pointed to the similarities between the events of the late 1700s and today and the actions taken by unsung heroes, “everyday Americans” who took on the pirates. President Thomas Jefferson refused to do what other leaders did in paying huge bribes to buy “peace.”
The new American Navy tried for years to blockade Tripoli and other ports but often failed and embarrassed the United States, even allowing one vessel, the USS Philadelphia, to be captured. However, the tide began to turn when a daring lieutenant named Stephen Decatur Jr. led a raid that resulted in torching the Philadelphia, which was being refit into a pirate ship. The U.S. made progress in the war and then made a peace treaty — a bad one, Kilmeade said.
“What did Jefferson do wrong?,” the television journalist asked. “Didn’t go for total and complete victory.” The president trusted a consul general, Tobias Lear, to make a good peace deal. “He cut a bad deal,” Kilmeade said.
After the War of 1812 ended, Decatur led American forces back and forced a good treaty, according to the book. To learn more, you’ll have to read “Thomas Jefferson and the Tripoli Pirates.”
To help the USO
If you would like to donate to the USO Fort Campbell Center, mail checks payable to: Kari Moore, USO Fort Campbell, P.O. Box 1121, Fort Campbell, KY 42223. Or go online to https://www.uso.org/donate/fortcampbell.