I got a germ of an idea for a post, that suddenly became much more daunting as I started to work on the necessary outline, and I realized that it will take me a while to put it together. That, and the fact that I did not want to have that be my post over the Fourth this year, I went digging in the archives at the Blog Cradle and stumbled upon this gem, from when I was still new to this game. Given the subject matter, I thought it much more appropriate for this holiday weekend. I may throw up a few more ‘reprints’ during the weekend. I first published this on December 13, 2006, and aside from cleaning up the spelling and formatting, it is how it was originally published, without any updating with additional sources, which I have subsequently come across in my reading.
I broke my own rule. I underestimated the stupidity of a would-be revisionist.
I was over at the playground (Bareknuckle Politics-Home of the Stupidest Trolls on the Planet!) when I was greeted with the following statement:
“treaty of tripoli was a founding document however, and it CLEARLY states that we are in no way a christian nation. “
A moment of breathtaking stupidity, from a clue-challenged knuckledragger who refers to himself by the misappellation “the Truth” or as I lovingly refer to him, “Truthless”.
The Treaty of Tripoli:
Treaty of Peace and Friendship, signed at Tripoli November 4, 1796 (3 Ramada I, A. H. 1211), and at Algiers January 3, 1797 (4 Rajab, A. H. 1211). Original in Arabic. Submitted to the Senate May 29, 1797. (Message of May 26, 1797.) Resolution of advice and consent June 7, 1797. Ratified by the United States June 10, 1797. As to the ratification generally, see the notes. Proclaimed Jane 10, 1797.
The following fourteen pages of Arabic are a reproduction of the text in the original treaty book, first the pages of the treaty in left-to-right order of pagination, and then the ” receipt ” and the ” note ” mentioned, according to the Barlow translation, in Article 10. Following the Arabic and in the same order, is the translation of Joel Barlow as written in the treaty book-the twelve articles of the treaty, the “receipt,” and the “note”; and after these is the approval of David Humphreys from the same document, which is fully described in the notes. Following those texts is the annotated translation of 1930.
Treaty of Peace and Friendship between the United States of America and the Bey and Subjects of Tripoli of Barbary.
There is a firm and perpetual Peace and friendship between the United States of America and the Bey and subjects of Tripoli of Barbary, made by the free consent of both parties, and guaranteed by the most potent Dey & regency of Algiers.
If any goods belonging to any nation with which either of the parties is at war shall be loaded on board of vessels belonging to the other party they shall pass free, and no attempt shall be made to take or detain them.
If any citizens, subjects or effects belonging to either party shall be found on board a prize vessel taken from an enemy by the other party, such citizens or subjects shall be set at liberty, and the effects restored to the owners.
Proper passports are to be given to all vessels of both parties, by which they are to be known. And, considering the distance between the two countries, eighteen months from the date of this treaty shall be allowed for procuring such passports. During this interval the other papers belonging to such vessels shall be sufficient for their protection.
A citizen or subject of either party having bought a prize vessel condemned by the other party or by any other nation, the certificate of condemnation and bill of sale shall be a sufficient passport for such vessel for one year; this being a reasonable time for her to procure a proper passport.
Vessels of either party putting into the ports of the other and having need of provissions or other supplies, they shall be furnished at the market price. And if any such vessel shall so put in from a disaster at sea and have occasion to repair, she shall be at liberty to land and reembark her cargo without paying any duties. But in no case shall she be compelled to land her cargo.
Should a vessel of either party be cast on the shore of the other, all proper assistance shall be given to her and her people; no pillage shall be allowed; the property shall remain at the disposition of the owners, and the crew protected and succoured till they can be sent to their country.
If a vessel of either party should be attacked by an enemy within gun-shot of the forts of the other she shall be defended as much as possible. If she be in port she shall not be seized or attacked when it is in the power of the other party to protect her. And when she proceeds to sea no enemy shall be allowed to pursue her from the same port within twenty four hours after her departure.
The commerce between the United States and Tripoli,-the protection to be given to merchants, masters of vessels and seamen,- the reciprocal right of establishing consuls in each country, and the privileges, immunities and jurisdictions to be enjoyed by such consuls, are declared to be on the same footing with those of the most favoured nations respectively.
The money and presents demanded by the Bey of Tripoli as a full and satisfactory consideration on his part and on the part of his subjects for this treaty of perpetual peace and friendship are acknowledged to have been recieved by him previous to his signing the same, according to a reciept which is hereto annexed, except such part as is promised on the part of the United States to be delivered and paid by them on the arrival of their Consul in Tripoly, of which part a note is likewise hereto annexed. And no presence of any periodical tribute or farther payment is ever to be made by either party.
As the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion,-as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion or tranquility of Musselmen,-and as the said States never have entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mehomitan nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.
In case of any dispute arising from a notation of any of the articles of this treaty no appeal shall be made to arms, nor shall war be declared on any pretext whatever. But if the (consul residing at the place where the dispute shall happen shall not be able to settle the same, an amicable referrence shall be made to the mutual friend of the parties, the Dey of Algiers, the parties hereby engaging to abide by his decision. And he by virtue of his signature to this treaty engages for himself and successors to declare the justice of the case according to the true interpretation of the treaty, and to use all the means in his power to enforce the observance of the same.
Signed and sealed at Tripoli of Barbary the 3d day of Jumad in the year of the Higera 1211-corresponding with the 4th day of Novr 1796
Now understand, Truthless was using this to say we aren’t a Christian nation. Considering that there is no official state religion in this country, unlike others,( say…the Barbary Coast states???) he is correct. However, unfortunately for Truthless, it cannot be truthfully stated that this is in any way a ‘founding’ document. He/she/it did not explain the basis for such a silly assertion, but there are some interesting events surrounding this treaty.
At that time in history, we were a fledgling nation, still unable to discourage hostile parties from preying upon our shipping, and along the northern coast of Africa, the ‘Barbary Coast’, the islamic nations there supported pirates who went out onto the shipping lanes to do what pirates do best: murder and steal, all in the name of Allah. For a time, our ships could count on the aid and protection of the English and French ships who plied the waters. However, with the rise of Napoleon, the English became obsessed with blockading the French, and the nations who allied with them. As time passed, the needs of manpower to keep the blockade in force lead the English to board American ships and kidnap American sailors. This practice, known as impressment, was one of the causes of our second conflict with the British Empire in less than a half a century. Without this protection, our shipping was an easy target for the muslim pirates. We soon sought a treaty, (think negotiated extortion) to relieve the threat against our ships. Hence the treaty.
Now the clause Truthless got him/her/itself all stirred up about, Article 11, was in the copy of the text translated from the Arabic by the diplomat in the region. Let that sink in for a moment.
It was translated from the arabic text.
That means that it could not have been a statement authored by elected representatives of our government, meant to be a accurately be a statement by us, about what we are about.
All communication at that time was subject to the limitations of travel, which meant it was nearly two years before this copy got to the Senate. The records of the time indicate that it was read aloud on the floor before the vote to ratify it was held. Personally, I find the record dubious, if only because today’s Congressional Record frequently publishes entire texts of speeches never said aloud in Congress.
What is more noteworthy is the fact that the treaty renewed eight years later did not contain the Article. It would be unusual to delete something so ‘formative’, something that nimwits like Truthless’ so fervently cling to as conclusive proof that Christianity wasn’t the elephant in the room during our nation’s formative years, and our law wasn’t an extension of the judeo-christian values and mores that were embodied in the jurisprudence of western civilization.
‘Founding document’, my great-aunt Hattie.
Memo to all would-be revisionists: If you are going to rewrite history to fit your spiritually-stunted agenda, don’t rely on a document ‘negotiated’ at gunpoint, that was changed to remove your weak-kneed justification at the earliest opportunity.
And Truthless, use your head for something more than a place to hang your dunce cap. It is getting tiresome correcting your stupidity.