… nothing was now wanting to bring it into direct and formal consideration, but the assent of our government … I communicated to them the favorable prospect of protecting our commerce from the Barbary depredations … however it was expected they would contribute a frigate, and it’s expenses to be in constant cruise. But they were in no condition to make any such engagement. Their recommendatory powers for obtaining contributions were so openly neglected by the several states that they declined an engagement which they were conscious they could not fulfill with punctuality; and so it fell through.
Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Subduing terrorists is far more challenging than one might think.
The United States proved to be the hardest cat of all to herd!
Spain had already paid a $3 million bribe to the Algerines. They were not interested in Jefferson’s effort to create a united naval front against the Barbary Pirates in the Mediterranean. With France’s assurance that England would not oppose them, a number European city-states signed on. All that remained was to recruit his own nation’s support. It was not to be.
Jefferson painted a favorable picture of protected shipping, but there was a cost. The U.S. needed to contribute one of six larger ships needed and pay for its continual operation.
In the mid-1780s, the Confederation Congress was America’s “national” government. It had no taxing authority and no ability to require states to support its actions. The states were already negligent toward “contributions” for other needs and would treat this recommendation in the same way. Knowing they could not fulfill their obligation, Congress declined to participate.
It would be almost 20 years before President Jefferson would send a small American navy to confront the pirates. It would have some success but did not solve the problem. American payments for “peace” would continue until 1815. European payments until the 1830s.