Posted by: MTR | November 27, 2010

Treaty of Tripoli

Many secularists use the words of the Treaty of Tripoli in order to prove that America was not a Christian Nation. They cite the following:

The government of the United States is in no sense founded on the Christian religion. GEORGE WASHINGTON

f you took that single sentence you would conclude that George Washington was indeed stating that we were not a Christian nation. But in order to understand the sentence you also need to know the history of the  Treaty.

That treaty, one of several with Tripoli, was negotiated during the “Barbary Powers Conflict,” which began shortly after the Revolutionary War and continued through the Presidencies of Washington, Adams, Jefferson, and Madison. The Muslim Barbary Powers (Tunis, Morocco, Algiers, and Tripoli) were warring against what they claimed to be the “Christian” nations (England, France, Spain, Denmark, and the United States). In 1801, Tripoli even declared war against the United States, thus constituting America’s first official war as an established independent nation.

Throughout this long conflict, the four Barbary Powers regularly attacked undefended American merchant ships. Not only were their cargoes easy prey but the Barbary Powers were also capturing and enslaving “Christian” seamen in retaliation for what had been done to them by the “Christians” of previous centuries (e.g., the Crusades and Ferdinand and Isabella’s expulsion of Muslims from Granada ). In an attempt to secure a release of captured seamen and a guarantee of unmolested shipping in the Mediterranean, President Washington dispatched envoys to negotiate treaties with the Barbary nations. (Concurrently, he encouraged the construction of American naval warships  to defend the shipping and confront the Barbary “pirates” – a plan not seriously pursued until President John Adams created a separate Department of the Navy in 1798.)

The American envoys negotiated numerous treaties of “Peace and Amity”  with the Muslim Barbary nations to ensure “protection” of American commercial ships sailing in the Mediterranean.  However, the terms of the treaty frequently were unfavorable to America, either requiring her to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars of “tribute” (i.e., official extortion) to each country to receive a “guarantee” of safety or to offer other “considerations” (e.g., providing a warship as a “gift” to Tripoli,  a “gift” frigate to Algiers,  paying $525,000 to ransom captured American seamen from Algiers,  etc.). The 1797 treaty with Tripoli was one of the many treaties in which each country officially recognized the religion of the other in an attempt to prevent further escalation of a “Holy War” between Christians and Muslims.  (Wallbuilders)

Consequently, Article XI of that treaty stated:

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 [hatred] against the laws, religion or tranquility of Musselmen [Muslims] and as the said States [America] have never entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mahometan 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.

And this leads into my second point. Secularists continually quote the first sentence but don’t bother letting the reader know the rest of the sentence.

as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion or tranquility of Musselmen and as the said States have never entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mahometan 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

The rest of the sentence is clearly stating that America has no animosity against any religion and wishes no harm on Muslims. All America wanted was peace and harmony . But if you only read what the secularists put forward, you’d think Washington was saying basically, hey, we aren’t Christian, so it’s cool. NO, we aren’t a Christian nation in the sense that we don’t allow other religions to be allowed here.

We already had people of the Jewish faith in the states and had been the case for many years. The Treaty was merely letting the Muslims know that we would accept people of other religous beliefs in our country. That was what freedom of religion was all about and what our founders espoused.

Btw, the Muslims violated the Treaty later and still attacked our ships.

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