The US Marine Corps was born in Tun Tavern when in 1775 a committee of the Continental Congress met at the Tavern to draft a resolution calling for two battalions of Marines able to fight for independence at sea and on land. The resolution was approved on November 10, 1775, officially forming the Continental Marines. The Marines’ first challenge was to raid British supplies of gunpowder at Fort Nassau in the Bahamas in 1776. These supplies were being used against the Colonies. Under Captain Samuel Nicholas, 234 Marines made their first amphibious landing and captured the Fort within minutes.
In 1801, Congress passed naval legislation that, among other things, provided for six frigates that ‘shall be officered and manned as the President of the United States may direct.’ In the case the Berber Muslims, the Barbary powers of Tripoli and Algiers declared war on the United States these ships were to “protect our commerce & chastise their insolence by sinking, burning or destroying their ships & Vessels wherever you shall find them.’”
It is widely known that Thomas Jefferson owned a copy of the Koran. An avid reader, always learning, it’s no surprise that he would have had a copy of religious books other than the Bible. The Barbary pirates had been taking ships and tribute for years before Jefferson became President, however he knew about Islam from reading the Koran and from his days as ambassador to France, when he met in London with then Ambassador to Britain, John Adams and Sidi Haji Abdul Rahman Adja, the British Ambassador from Algiers.
In 1805, the US refused to pay “tribute” to Barbary Coast pirates to keep them from raiding American merchant ships. Jefferson said of the idea of continuing to pay, “Too long, for the honor of nations, have those Barbarians been [permitted]to trample on the sacred faith of treaties, on the rights and laws of human nature!” As President, negotiations for a treaty failed, so Jefferson called on the Marines.
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