Boston and America’s 200-Year-War with Islam

The Boston bombings, the Fort Hood shootings, the events of 9/11, and numerous international Islamic terrorist activities are only new to people who have no sense of history.

Most Americans are familiar with the first line of the United States Marine Corps hymn, “From the halls of Montezuma1 to the shores of Tripoli” but most likely don’t know the source of the “Tripoli” reference. The line “to the shores of Tripoli” refers to the First Barbary War, specifically the Battle of Derna, that took place in 1805.

Our earliest founders were familiar with the terrorist ways of radical Islamists. Thomas Jefferson, who was serving as the ambassador to France, and John Adams, the Ambassador to Britain, met in London with Ambassador Abdrahaman, the Dey of Tripoli’s ambassador to Britain, in an attempt to negotiate a peace treaty. Peace for an Islamist means surrender to Islam.

Peace would come at a price. If America wanted “temporary peace,” a one-year guarantee, it would cost $66,000 plus a 10% commission. “Everlasting peace” was a bargain at $160,000 plus the obligatory commission. This only applied to Tripoli. Other Muslim nations would also have to be paid. The amount came to $1.3 million. But there was no assurance that the treaties would be honored. In vain, Jefferson and Adams tried to argue that America was not at war with Tripoli. In what way had the U.S provoked the Muslims, they asked? Ambassador Abdrahaman went on to explain “the finer points of Islamic jihad” to the Koranically challenged Jefferson and Adams. In a letter to John Jay, Jefferson wrote the following:

“The Ambassador answered us that it was founded on the Laws of their Prophet, that it was written in their Koran, that all nations who should not have acknowledged their authority were sinners, that it was their right and duty to make war upon them wherever they could be found, and to make slaves of all they could take as Prisoners, and that every Musselman [Muslim] who should be slain in battle was sure to go to Paradise.”2

Abdrahaman was paraphrasing the Koran’s “rules of engagement” found in the 47 Surah: “Whenever you encounter the ones who disbelieve [during wartime], seize them by their necks until once you have subdued them, then tie them up as prisoners, either in order to release them later on, or also to ask for ransom, until war lays down her burdens.”

Decatur boarding_cropped

Decatur Boarding Tripolitan Gunboat

Unless a nation submits to Islam — whether it was the aggressor or not — that nation was by definition at war with Islam. Jihad means “to submit.” A non-aggressing nation is still at war with Islam as long as it hasn’t embraced Islam. Islam’s goal is to conquer the world, either by the submission of one’s will or by Allah’s sword.

Paul Johnson writes:

“Koranic teaching that the faith or ‘submission’ can be, and in suitable circumstances must be, imposed by force, has never been ignored. On the contrary, the history of Islam from Arabia was followed by the rapid conquest of North Africa, the invasion and virtual conquest of Spain, and a thrust into France that carried the crescent to the gates of Paris. It took half a millennium or reconquest to expel the Moslems from Western Europe. The Crusades, far from being an outrageous prototype of Western imperialism, as is taught in most of our schools, were a mere episode in a struggle that has lasted 1,400 years and were one of the few occasions when Christians took the offensive to regain the “occupied territories” of the Holy Land.”3

 When President Jefferson refused to increase the tribute demanded by the Islamists, Tripoli declared war on the United States. A United States navy squadron, under Commander Edward Preble, blockaded Tripoli from 1803 to 1805. After rebel soldiers from Tripoli, led by United States Marines, captured the city of Derna, the Pasha of Tripoli signed a treaty promising to exact no more tribute.

President Obama is not the first person who has tried to whitewash Islam’s history and sell us on the peaceful motives of Muslims. Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), a Muslim, took his constitutional oath on Jefferson’s copy of the Koran. How ironic given Jefferson’s disdain for Islam’s double dealings.

Jefferson, embroiled in a war with Islamic terrorists in his day, commented, “Too long, for the honor of nations, have those Barbarians been suffered [permitted] to trample on the sacred faith of treaties, on the rights and laws of human nature!”4 Little has changed since Jefferson’s day.

  1. “The Halls of Montezuma” refers to the Battle of Chapultepec (1847), during the Mexican-American War, where a force of Marines stormed Chapultepec Castle. []
  2. Quoted in Joseph Wheelan, Jefferson’s War: America’s First War on Terror, 1801–1805 (New York: Carroll & Graf Publishers, 2003), 40–41. []
  3. Paul Johnson, “‘Relentlessly and Thoroughly’: The Only Way to Respond,” National Review (October 15, 2001). []
  4. Thomas Jefferson, congratulatory letter to Lt. Andrew Sterett (1760–1807). Quoted in Joseph Wheelan, Jefferson’s War: America’s First War on Terror, 1801–1805 (New York: Carroll & Graf Publishers, 2003), 102. []