Tag Archives: terrorists

Minor issues can showcase major principles.

Th: Jefferson presents his compliments to mr Smith, has recieved his letter of the 3d. inst. and regrets that he could not have the pleasure of seeing him on his passage through the neighborhood … he congratulates mr Smith on the happy termination of our Tripoline war. tho a small war in fact, it is big in principle. it has shewn that when necessary we can be respectable at sea, & has taught to Europe a lesson of honor & of justice to the Barbarians …
To Larkin Smith, September 7, 1805

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Perceptive leaders know big results can flow from small actions.
An illness had prevented Smith from visiting Monticello when he was nearby. He wrote to express his regrets. Jefferson answered Smith’s letter, invited him to come another time, and congratulated him on America’s naval success against the Barbary pirates of North Africa.

It was “a small war,” Jefferson acknowledged, but “big in principle.”
1. It proved America could fight and win at sea.
2. The nations of Europe had paid tribute to the pirates for decades. America’s refusal to do so had taught them “a lesson of honor.”
3. The pirates (he called them “Barbarians”) had received a lesson about justice.

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The value of skill and bravery combined!

… you have shewn to your countrymen that that enemy cannot meet bravery & skill united. in proving to them that our past condescensions were from a love of peace, not a dread of them, you have deserved well of your country …
To Andrew Sterett, December 1, 1801

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Wise leaders know when skill alone or bravery alone won’t be enough.
Sterett (1778-1807) commanded the Enterprize in the Mediterranean and secured the first naval victory over the North African Barbary pirates. He had just returned to America after his successful mission, and his President expressed his profound appreciation.

The pirates had been plying their trade for decades and knew it well, capturing ships and holding their crews for ransom. Or demanding annual ransom from nations to leave their ships unharmed. Jefferson knew, despite his enemies’ past success, they could not stand when extraordinary skill and great bravery were combined.

Sterett’s victory accomplished another goal. He proved that America’s past acquiescence wasn’t out of fear of the pirates but out of a love of peace.

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What will herding cats do to you? Part 3

They [the Algerines] have taken two of our vessels, and I fear will ask such a tribute for a forbearance of their piracies as the U.S. would be unwilling to pay. When this idea comes across my mind, my faculties are absolutely suspended between indignation and impotence.
To Nathanael Greene, Jan. 12, 1785

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Herding cats is hard on leaders.
Jefferson was trying both to promote American trade with European nations and recruit those nations to combat the Barbary pirates. Those city-states on the North Africa coast had preyed on other nations’ ships in the Mediterranean for centuries. The action of those pirates worked against his efforts to increase trade.
He had reached an accommodation with the Moroccans, who had seized an American ship. He feared he would not be as successful with the Algerians. The price they would demand for two ships and their crews would be more than the U.S. government would pay. What was he to do?
I’ve always loved the line he used to describe his impossible situation, that his mind was “absolutely suspended between indignation and impotence.”
That’s what herding cats can do to you. It  leaves you both frustrated and incapable of fixing the problem.

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How do you herd cats? Part 2

… 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.
Autobiography, 1821

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.

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Jefferson’s “State of the Union” in 1805? Part 2

Turning from these unpleasant views of violence and wrong, I congratulate you on the liberation of our fellow-citizens who were stranded on the coast of Tripoli and made prisoners of war …
With Tunis some misunderstandings have arisen not yet sufficiently explained …
The law providing for a naval peace establishment … Congress will perhaps consider whether the best limitation on the Executive [President’s] discretion [is to limit the number of seamen or the number of vessels] …
Our Indian neighbors are advancing, many of them with spirit, and others beginning to engage in the pursuits of agriculture and household manufacture … from time to time to dispose of parts of their surplus and waste lands …
The receipts at the Treasury during the year … which , with [the surplus] … have enabled us after meeting other demands to pay nearly two millions of the debt contracted under the British treaty  … upward of four millions of principle of the public debt and four millions of interest. These payments, with those which had been made in three years and a half preceding, have extinguished of the funded debt nearly eighteen millions of principle.

Fifth Annual Message to Congress
, December 3, 1805

 Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Smart leaders keep everyone informed.
These excerpts summarize the second half of Jefferson’s fifth “State of the Union” report, the one corresponding to President Obama’s address this week.
1. There’s good news to report from north Africa. Tripoli pirates have been dealt with, and those in Tunis appear to be moving toward settlement. (Terrorists in north Africa. Sound familiar?)
2. He asked clarification from Congress on his authority for ships vs. sailors.
3. Some Indians were actively oppositional while others were coming to an agricultural life and making portions of their lands available for settlement.
4. The government was continuing to run a surplus, reducing the national debt by $18 million in 3 ½ years. (Imagine that!)
He concluded by noting his re-election and pledging his best efforts for the nation and every possible cooperation with the Congress. (He enjoyed an enviable Presidential position of having his party control sizable majorities in both houses.)

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Thomas Jefferson on acts of tyranny

Are terrorism and slavery connected?
Single acts of tyranny may be ascribed to the accidental opinion of a day; but a series of oppressions, begun at a distinguished period, and pursued unalterably through every change of ministers, too plainly prove a deliberate, systematical plan of reducing us to slavery.
Rights of British America, 1774, 8642

Patrick Lee’s Explanation
The full title of this document, published as a brochure, was Summary View of the Rights of British America. It is more commonly called Summary View.
Summary View
is much longer than the Declaration of Independence which followed two years later but laid the groundwork for it. It outlined the rights and privileges of loyal British citizens, which most Americans considered themselves to be in 1774. Summary View also brought to public awareness the young lawyer from Virginia and his skill with the written word.
Although written for the delegates to the First Continental Congress about England, its king and their offenses toward the American colonies, it has relevance today. Just yesterday marked the 10th anniversary of the Al-Qaeda attacks on America. September 11 wasn’t a single offense, and it wasn’t their first one, but it certainly was the most noticeable act, a watershed in its an ongoing campaign “of reducing us to slavery.”

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