Wednesday, December 23, 2009
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Within months of the birth of Richard Somers, on November 10, 1775, the United States Congress authorized the formation of two battalions of Marines to serve on US ships that were also being authorized.
Samuel Nicholas was named first officer and later first Commandant of the Marines, while Robert Mullan, owner of Tunns Tavern, was assigned the responsibility of recruiting the marines. Mullan's wife, Peggy Mullan ran the Red Hot Beef Steak Club at Tunns, which was famous for its beer, which were made in the giant wood tunn kegs.
Tunns Tavern was located at Water St. and Tunn Alley, not far from the Front Street home of William and Sarah Somers Keen, sister and brother-in-law of Richard Somers.
Samuel Nicholas had attended the Philadelphia Academy, where Richard Somers, Stephen Decatur and Charles Stewart would also attend, a decade and a half later, before they would enter the reconstitute US Navy as the first class of Midshipmen under Captain John Barry.
Somers, Decatur and Stewart all grew up in that Center City Philadelphia neighborhood, and were quite familiar with the Tunn Tavern and the tavern run by Samuel Nicholas under the sign of the Connestogoe Wagon, which was on Market Street between 4th and 5th street. Nicholas' wife Mary Jenkins, from Jenkinstown, north of Philly on York Road, was neice of the mayor.
As young students at the Philadelphia Academy, Somers, Decatur and Stewart were said to have engaged in fist fights at the old Quaker cemetery and at St. Ann's cemetery, both within a few blocks of their school and homes.
Sam Nicholas, the first Commandant of the Marine Corps, is burried at the old Quaker cemetery, and Captain John Barry is burried at St. Ann's, along with Decatur and his wife, whose body was moved from her Washington D.C. burrial site and reburied next to her husband in the 1980s.
There is a movement to rebuild the Tunn Tavern at or near its original location, and a Tunn Tavern, a brew pub, was established in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
Monday, November 9, 2009
Revolutionary War hero John Paul Jones, the only pretender to the title of "Father of the US Navy," does not deserve what is rightfully descriptive of Captain John Barry.
While both men were responsible for legendary action against the British during the revolution, it was Barry who became the first flag officer when the Navy was formally established, and it was Barry who chose, trained and developed the first class of Midshipmen and officers of the new Navy - Stewart, Decatur and Somers.
Before the revolution, John Paul Jones, while a merchant captain, killed one of his own crew, claiming self-defense, but in any case, no way to treat a crew. And after the revolution, he unsuccessfully sought prize money promised from France, which was like trying to collect a bad gambling debt. Jones also served as a mercinary admiral for Russia, failing to inspire or lead the Russians who expected more from him.
At the time of his death John Paul Jones was said to be on a secret mission, an attempt to obtain the release of Americans being held hostage as slaves by the Barbary Pirates.
Jones died, pennyless they say, in Paris, where he was burried and forgotten, until America needed a hero again.
Through the determination of an American diplomat, the remains of Jones were discovered, and through the efforts of President Teddy Roosevelt, were repatriated home and reburied at the Naval Academy at Annapolis.
Who will be the American diplomat who will be responsible for the repatriation of the remains of Captain Richard Somers?
Once a Virginian Invaded Britain
Congress Rewards Valor By "Investigation"
By John T. Goolrick
He made now a last voyage for America, capturing 12 ships which he burned. He had taken in all 60 British vessels, more than a million dollars in supplies, destroyed 10 times that amount, captured 1,500 British seamen, and four times invaded Britain, as a reward for which his country called him back for congressional investigation. Before the committee he said, "I came as a youth to Virginia, of which I am a citizen. I entered and fought in the Continental Navy. If I have done ought wrong let it be made clear."
After a single day he was cleared with honor and Congressman Varnum of Massachusetts afterward wrote: "There is a magic about his way and manner. Whatever he said carried conviction. He made himself master of the situation. At the end the committee felt honored for the privilege of hearing him."
John Paul Jones at that time was just passed 32 years old. He had served in the Continental Navy less than three years.
Found Body Under Laundry Refuse Pile
One hundred and eight years later Ambassador Porter began to look for his body and after six years found it in a leaden coffin, under the stable and refuse of a laundry. It was brought back amid fleet of warships and at Annapolis the President and great men eulogized the memory of the little sea fighter. But even then the strange fate which would have hurt him worse than all else followed the vain little man, for his coffin was placed behind a door and forgotten for several years more. Then some one remembered and his country reared above his remains a monument of marble and porphyry fit to honor any hero.
Half the world still regards him as a bold pirate. But of him the Duchess of Chartres said, "Not Bayard, or Charles le Tamaire, could lay his helmet at a lady's feet with half so knightly grace." He himself wrote to Catherine, "Far from being bloodthirsty, I am the most peaceable of men. I was no made to be a soldier or sailor, but for quiet and love."
Mrs. John Adams, whose husband was not by any means Jones' friend, wrote of him, "He is small, well proportioned, soft of voice, and vastly civil. He understands all about a lady's toilette and what perfumes she should use. Under all this he is bold, enterprising, ambitious, and a favorite among French ladies. I should sooner think of wrapping him in cotton wool and putting him to bed than of sending him out to contend with cannon balls." One begins to think that, perhaps Mrs. Adams was falling under the charm of his "indescribable manner."
His worth was gauged by one man whose star rose when Jones' star had set, On St. Helena Napoleon said:
"How old was Paul Jones when he died?"
He was told 37.
"Had he lived" Napoleon said, "He would have been Admiral of France."
The Repatriation of John Paul Jones from Paris to Annapolis
During the French Revolution, Commodore John Paul Jones, the great naval leader of the American Revolution, died in Paris at the age of 45. Lacking official status and without financial security, Jones died alone in his apartment on July 18, 1792. An admiring French friend arranged for his funeral and provided for a handsome lead coffin. John Paul Jones was buried in St. Louis Cemetery, the property of the French royal family. Four years later France's revolutionary government sold the property and the cemetery was forgotten.
Over a century later, a search began to find the body of John Paul Jones for the purpose of returning his remains to the United States. The American Ambassador to France, General Horace Porter, personally led in the research to relocate the forgotten cemetery, provided the funds to excavate the casket and coordinated the efforts to repatriate the mortal remains of the great naval hero. Correspondence, antique maps and other records in the French national library and archives provided Ambassador Porter the information which helped in the discovery of the built-over cemetery. After weeks of tunneling through basement walls and streets, the casket of Jones was found and disinterred.
Remarkably, his corpse, which had been wrapped in a winding cloth and placed in straw and alcohol in a tightly sealed lead casket, was nearly perfectly preserved. He was taken to the University of Paris where a complete autopsy was performed. There the head of the corpse was compared to the sculptured portrait bust of Jones executed in 1780 by Jean Antoine Houdon, who had taken a plaster impression directly for his subjects's head. The autopsy and forensic study proved conclusively that the body was John Paul Jones. He had died of the kidney ailment nephritis, complicated by pneumonia.
Following an impressive parade, a religious service in Paris and a special train arranged by the French government to the port of Cherbourg, the remains of John Paul Jones were transferred to the USS Brooklyn, flagship of a special naval squadron sent by President Theodore Roosevelt to bring Jones home to his "country of fond election" and to the nation for which he immeasurably helped gain independence. On July 24, 1905, the naval tug Standish carried the casket ashore at Annapolis, Md., for placement in a temporary vault across the street from the new U.S. Naval Academy Chapel, which was under construction.
On April 24, 1906, elaborate and impressive ceremonies in commemoration of John Paul Jones were held in Dahlgren Hall, the new Naval Academy armory. Incidently, this day was the anniversary of the battle between the Jones's Ranger and HMS Drake, fought in the Irish Sea in 1778. It had been the first major naval battle fought under the newly adopted "starred and striped" flag and had resulted in Jones' capture of an important warship in Great Britain's home waters. President Roosevelt, Ambassador Porter, Admiral George Dewey and many other dignitaries attended the ceremonies. France sent an entire naval fleet up the Chesapeake Bay to mark the occasion.
Afterwards the casket of John Paul Jones was placed in the Academy's Bancroft Hall to await completion of his permanent tomb, in the new Naval Academy Chapel.
Jones was bid to rest in the crypt of the Naval Academy Chapel on Jan. 26, 1913. The crypt was designed by Beaux Arts architect Whitney Warren, and the 21-ton sarcophagus and surrounding columns of black and white Royal Pyrenees marble were the work of sculptor Sylvain Salieres. The sarcophagus is supported by bronze dolphins and is embellished with cast garlands of bronze sea plants. Inscribed in set-in brass letters around the base of the tomb are the names of the Continental Navy ships commanded by John Paul Jones during the American Revolution: Providence, Alfred, Ranger, Bonhomme Richard, Serapis, Alliance and Ariel. American national ensigns (flags) and union jacks are placed between the marble columns. Set in brass in the marble floor at the head of the sarcophagus is the inscription:
JOHN PAUL JONES, 1747-1792
U.S. NAVY, 1775-1783
HE GAVE OUR NAVY ITS EARLIEST TRADITIONS
OF HEROISM AND VICTORY
ERECTED BY THE CONGRESS, A.D. 1912
Important historic objects related to Jones' life and naval career are exhibited in niches around the periphery of the circular space. Visitors today the Naval Academy can see an original marble copy of the Houdon portrait bust, the gold medal awarded to Jones by the Congress in 1787, the gold-hilted presentation sword given by Louis XVI of France and Jones commission as Captain, Continental (U.S.) Navy, signed by John Hancock. Here, too, is a plaque to Ambassador Porter, who was responsible for repatriating the great naval leader.
An honor guard stands duty whenever the crypt is open to the public. Normal public visiting hours are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Mondays through Saturdays, and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Sundays. Closed on Federal Holidays. For information call 410-293-1100.
The Two Burials of John Paul Jones
Direct from Paris, the report
In a 1905 "Scientific American"
Finding the Body of Admiral Paul Jones in Paris
Scientific America, May 1905
The news that the body of Admiral Paul Jones had been discovered in Paris naturally awakened a considerable sensation. The body was found in fact in one of the ancient cemeteries of the city, and was then removed to the Medical College, where an autopsy was made. Gen. Horace Porter, the United States ambassador, and Col. Bailly-Blanchard, second secretary of the embassy, had been making researches to this end for some time past. It was known that the body had been buried in Paris in one of the old cemeteries, and for more than six years Gen. Porter was occupied in making different excavations, in the hope of recovering the ' body of the renowned admiral, the "Father of the American Navy," who died, it will be remembered, in 1792.
At last his perseverance was rewarded, and the body came to light in a better state of preservation than could be hoped for. The discovery is naturally one which will awaken great interest in America, and it is proposed to transport the remains to Washington as soon as the plans are fully decided upon. It was in the old St. Louis Cemetery, where Protestants of foreign birth were buried, that success finally awaited the excavators after so long a time. The cemetery lies near the St. Louis Hospital in the Rue Grange aux Belles, in the northeast quarter of the city. The excavations in the cemetery were commenced by Gen. Porter about the first of February last. Some difficulty was experienced, as it was not known just where the body might be found, and so considerable excavating had to be done in the premises. Several lead coffins were brought to light, but each time the explorers were disappointed, as they all had plates with inscriptions. One of the latter mentioned simply "Anglois" (Englishman) with the date, on a copper plate. However, the fourth time proved to be successful, and the coffin by its exterior signs seemed to contain the remains of some eminent person, as it was of better quality than the others and of more solid build.
It appears likely that a body had been buried above it, and some vestiges of this grave were found at the same time. It is supposed that when the upper grave was dug, they came upon the plate which no doubt had covered the lower coffin, and removed it, as no plate was found, and it was also noticed that the lower coffin had been pierced as if it had received a blow with a pick. The lead coffin was no doubt inclosed in a wood casket, and a few traces of the latter were found. The lead case is in the form of the mummy coffins which were used'at that time.
Upon removal to the Ecole de Medecine, it was opened in the presence of the representatives of the American embassy and some of the city officials. The body was found to be in a good state of preservation, (click to see photos - BEWARE of macabre content) and had been well packed so as to avoid movement, by means of hay and straw placed in the spaces. The limbs were covered with tinfoil. It is supposed that the good preservation is due to an immersion in alcohol. The body was dressed in a shirt and wrapped in a sheet. The shirt was found to be marked with a small embroidered initial, which might be taken either for a P or a J, according to the way in which it is read. There was no other clothing, nor were any other objects found, but this is not surprising, as we already know that the uniform, sword, and decorations of the admiral had been preserved by his family. Dr. Papillault, the distinguished anthropologist and Dr. Capitan, another high medical authority, were chosen to examine the body. They made a certain number of measurements, and to give greater surety, the latter were taken before any other information as to the admiral's characteristics had been furnished. Such documents were not wanting, however, and Gen. Porter brought all the busts and portraits he could secure, so as to make the comparison. The examination was quite convincing, leaving no possible doubt as to the identity of the body.
The preservation is remarkable, and it was even found that the flesh is soft and yielding, so that the head and members could be moved without any difficulty. The face as it appeared is clean shaven and is of a dark color. The hair is abundant and quite long, according to the fashion of the time.The principal documents of comparison were two busts of the admiral, both by the eminent French sculptor Houdon. One of these was loaned by Marquis de Biron of Paris, and the other came from Trocadero Museum and is a copy of the bust now possessed by the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. The former bust represents the admiral in a court costume with his hair arranged in the mode of the period with masses at the sides of the head. The bust is more lifelike, and shows him in his military costume, with the hair drawn back from the forehead. Besides, we possess different documents relating to the color of the hair, different dimensions of the body, etc.
In this way, after a careful examination, it became evident that the person could be no other than the admiral. The height, upon measuring, was found to be exactly the same, or 5 feet 7.inches. The hair, which is of a dark brown, is of the same color as that which he was known to possess, and is slightly gray in some places. Examination of the head shows that it resembles the original documents as closely as possible and in all the details. Especially noteworthy is the high forehead. The hair is quite long and flowing, with slight curls at the sides of the head.
The coffin is narrow at the feet, and gradually widens at the upper part to contain the shoulders, then finishes in a rounded part at the top for the head. The lead is quite thick, thus enabling the body to be well kept, and it was no doubt tightly sealed from the air until the hole had been made in it with the pick, as, is supposed. It seems as if the wrapping of the limbs in tinfoil was done in order to prepare the body for a long transportation by sea. In fact, we have a letter of Col. Blackden, an intimate friend of Paul Jones and one of his pallbearers, which reads as follows: "His body was put in a leaden coffin on the 20th that, in case the United States, which he had so essentially served and with so much honor , should claim his remains, they might be more easily remove."
Only a few persons specially authorized by the embassy were admitted to view the remains, as it was not intended to make a public celebration of the event before obtaining advice from America in regard to the matter. The writer is indebted to the courtesy of Col. Bailly-Blanchard for the permission to take the present photograph for the SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN. The embassy had some photographs of the body taken, but these are to be kept as documents, and it is not intended to have them published, at least at present. The casket is draped with two large American flags, with small flags and palm branches on the top. The remains are to be placed in a vault in the American church in Paris until it is decided what steps are to be taken for bringing them to America. It is probable that the American and French governments will come to accord for a great celebration in honor of the admiral, which will take place in French waters, and it is likely that the American cruiser squadron will come over to take the body back to the United States some time in June.
(SeacoastNH.com editors note: The pictures of the body of Paul Jones were published by the US Government the very next year. Whether by coincidence or through some editor's sense of humor, the next article on the same page in Scientific American is a discussion of preserving food using a new invention - aluminum foil.)
The complete text of the commemoration eulogy by President Theodore Roosevelt at the interment of John Paul Jones at the US Naval Academy at Annapolis on April 24, 1906.
Roosevelt and Paul Jones
Theodore Roosevelt is best known in Seacoast, NH as the peacemaker who orchestrated the famous Treaty of Portsmouth in 1905. The treaty brought together the warring nations of Russia and Japan, a conflict that many feared would escalate into a world war. Roosevelt was also, when he chose to be, a war maker. His 1898 charge up San Juan Hill in Cuba with the "Rough Riders" (plus his own film crew) turned the six-week Spanish American War into a public relations victory for the media-savvy politician.
Roosevelt had jumped at the chance to fund an archeological search for the body of John Paul Jones and appropriated funds in 1905. Roosevelt saw himself as the fulfillment of Jones' Revolutionary War call for an organized American navy and he had no guilt about using the exhumed mummified body of Jones to woo the public and legislators to his vision of a giant naval fleet. Indeed, in the following speech, he implies that any one who thinks otherwise is not fit to attend the funeral of the "Father of the American Navy." With his plans to create a great fleet begun and the building of the Panama Canal underway, Roosevelt was in top form at the time of this speech.
Unafraid, even enamored of war, Roosevelt was not unlike the driven, energetic John Paul Jones. Both were self-possessed and outwardly self-assured, yet private, contemplative, even lonely figures. Both adored poetry, wrote extensively, loved to dress in the finest military outfits, were extremely image conscious and highly moralistic.
Roosevelt must have studied Jones for a history of the US Navy he began writing while at Harvard. By 1896, "Teddy" himself was Assistant Secretary of the Navy under President McKinley. By 1891, after the assassination of McKinley, he became President and Commander in Chief of the US military. He used his clout to prod America into becoming, as he was, an aggressive world power. By 1907 only the British Navy outgunned America.
It is possible that John Paul Jones was a role model to Roosevelt. Like Jones, Roosevelt never backed away from a fight, not with political bosses, foreign countries or billionaire J.P. Morgan. Roosevelt was guided by his father's high standards and high moral purpose. His father had died at 47. Jones died at 45, and Roosevelt himself was in his 40s when he delivered the following speech. Just as Jones left his native Scotland and returned to attack its shores, Roosevelt came to attack the wealthy and priviledged society from which he had sprung.
J. Dennis Robinson
© 1997 SeacoastNH.com
Address by President Roosevelt
At Annapolis Commemoration
April 24, 1906
SECRETARY OF THE NAVY CHARLES J. BONAPARTE introduced the President in the following words: FELLOW COUNTRYMEN: We have met to honor the memory of that man who gave our Navy its earliest traditions of heroism and victory, The Commander in Chief of the Navy is of right the first to speak of such a man at such a time. You will hear the President.
ON BEHALF of the American people I wish to thank our ancient ally, the great French nation, that proud and gallant nation to whose help we once owed it that John Paul Jones was able to win for the Stars and Stripes the victory that has given him deathless fame, and to whose courtesy we now owe it that the body of the long dead hero has been sent hither, and that to commemorate the reception of the illustrious dead a squadron of French war ships has come to our shores.
The annals of the French navy are filled with the names of brave and able seamen, each of whom courted death as a mistress when the honor of his flag was at stake; and among the figures of these brave men there loom the larger shapes of those who, like Tourville, Duquesne, and the Bailli de Suffren, won high renown as fleet admirals, inferior to none of any navy of their day in martial prowess.
In addition to welcoming the diplomatic and official representatives of France here present, let me also express my heartiest acknowledgments to our former ambassador to Paris, Gen. Horace Porter, to whose zealous devotion we particularly owe it that the body of John Paul Jones has been brought to our shores.
When the body was thus brought over the representatives of many different cities wrote to me, each asking that it should find its last resting place in his city. But I feel that the place of all others in which the memory of the dead hero will most surely be a living force is here in Annapolis, where year by year we turn out the midshipmen who are to officer in the future the Navy, among whose founders the dead man stands first. Moreover, the future naval officers, who live within these walls, will find in the career of the man whose life we this day celebrate, not merely a subject for admiration and respect, but an object lesson to be taken into their innermost hearts. Every officer in our Navy should know by heart the deeds of John Paul Jones. Every officer in our Navy should feel in each fiber of his being an eager desire to emulate the energy, the professional capacity, the indomitable determination and dauntless scorn of death which marked John Paul Jones above all his fellows.
The history of our Navy, like the history of our nation, extends over a period of only a century and a quarter; yet we already have many memories of pride to thrill us as we read and hear of what has been done by our fighting men of the sea, from Perry and Macdonough to Farragut and Dewey. These memories include brilliant victories, and also, now and then, defeats only less honorable than the victories themselves; but the only defeats to which this praise can be given are those where, against heavy odds, men have stood to the death in hopeless battle. It is well for every American officer to remember that while a surrender may or may not be defensible, the man who refuses to surrender need never make a defense. The one fact must always be explained; the other needs no explanation. Moreover, he who would win glory and honor for the nation and for himself, must not too closely count the odds; if he does, he will never see such a day as that when Cushing sank the Albemarle.
In his fight with the Serapis Jones's shipwas so badly mauled that his opponent hailed him, saying "Has your ship struck?" to which Jones answered, "I have not yet begun to fight." The spirit which inspired that answer upbore the man who gave it and the crew who served under him through the fury of the battle, which finally ended in their triumph. It was the same spirit which marked the commanders of the Cumberland and the Congress, when they met an equally glorious though less fortunate fate. The Cumberland sank, her flag flying, and her guns firing with the decks awash, while, when summoned to surrender, Morris replied, "Never! I'll sink alongside!" and made his words good. Immediately after the Cumberland was sunk the Congress was attacked, and her commander, Lieut. Joe Smith, was killed. After fighting until she was helpless, and being unable to bring her guns to bear, the ship was surrendered; but when Smith's father, old Commodore Joe Smith, who was on duty at Washington, saw by the dispatches from Fort Monroe that the Congress had hoisted the white flag, he said quietly, "Then Joe's dead!" Surely no father could wish to feel a prouder certainty of his boy's behavior than the old commodore showed he possessed when he thus spoke; and no naval officer could hope to win a finer epitaph.
We have met to-day to do honor to the mighty dead. Remember that our words of admiration are but as sounding brass and tinkling cymbals if we do not by steady preparation and by the cultivation of soul and mind and body fit ourselves so that in time of need we shall be prepared to emulate their deeds. Let every midshipman who passes through this institution remember, as he looks upon the tomb of John Paul Jones, that while no courage can atone for the lack of that efficiency which comes only through careful preparation in advance, through careful training of the men, and careful fitting out of the engines of war, yet that none of these things can avail unless in the moment of crisis the heart rises level with the crisis. The navy whose captains will not surrender is sure in the long run to whip the navy whose captains will surrender, unless the inequality of skill or force is prodigious. The courage which never yields can not take the place of the possession of good ships and good weapons and the ability skillfully to use these ships and these weapons.
I wish that our people as a whole, and especially those among us who occupy high legislative or administrative positions, would study the history of our nation, not merely for the purpose of national self gratification, but with the desire to learn the lessons that history teaches. Let the men who talk lightly about its being unnecessary for us now to have an army and navy adequate for the work of this nation in the world remember that such utterances are not merely foolish, for in their effects they may at any time be fraught with disaster and disgrace to the nation's honor as well as disadvantage to its interest. Let them take to heart some of the lessons which should be learned by the study of the War of I8I2.
As a people we are too apt to remember only that some of our ships did well in that war. We had a few ships -- a very few ships -- and they did so well as to show the utter folly of not having enough of them. Thanks to our folly as a nation, thanks to the folly that found expression in the views of those at the seat of government, not a ship of any importance had been built within a dozen years before the war began, and the Navy was so small that, when once the war was on, our opponents were able to establish a close blockade throughout the length of our coast, so that not a ship could go from one port to another, and all traffic had to go by land. Our parsimony in not preparing an adequate navy (which would have prevented the war) cost in the end literally thousands of dollars for every one dollar we thus foolishly saved. After two years of that war an utterly inconsiderable British force of about four thousand men was landed here in the bay, defeated with ease a larger body of raw troops put against it, and took Washington.
I am sorry to say that those of our countrymen who now speak of the deed usually confine themselves to denouncing the British for having burned certain buildings in Washington. They had better spare their breath. The sin of the invaders in burning the buildings is trivial compared with the sin of our own people in failing to make ready an adequate force to defeat the attempt.
This nation was guilty of such shortsightedness, of such folly, of such lack of preparation that it was forced supinely to submit to the insult and was impotent to avenge it; and it was only the good fortune of having in Andrew Jackson a great natural soldier that prevented a repetition of the disaster at New Orleans. Let us remember our own shortcomings, and see to it that the men in public life to-day are not permitted to bring about a state of things by which we should in effect invite a repetition of such a humiliation.
We can afford as a people to differ on the ordinary party questions; but if we are both farsighted and patriotic we can not afford to differ on the all-important question of keeping the national defenses as they should be kept; of not alone keeping up, but of going on with building up of the United States Navy, and of keeping our small Army at least at its present size and making it the most efficient for its size that there is on the globe.
Remember, you here who are listening to me, that to applaud patriotic sentiments and to turn out to do honor to the dead heroes who by land or by sea won honor for our flag is only worth while if we are prepared to show that our energies do not exhaust themselves in words; if we are prepared to show that we intend to take to heart the lessons of the past and make things ready so that if ever, which heaven forbid, the need should arise, our fighting men on sea and ashore shall be able to rise to the standard established by their predecessors in our services of the past.
Those of you who are in public life have a moral right to be here at this celebration to-day only if you are prepared to do your part in building up the Navy of the present; for otherwise you have no right to claim lot or part in the glory and honor and renown of the Navy's past.
So much for what we in civil life outside of public office and within it are to do for you, and must do for you, in the Navy. Let you in the Navy remember that you must do your part. You will be worth less in war if you have not prepared yourselves for it in peace. You will be utterly unable to rise to the needs of the crisis if you have not by long years of steady and patient work fitted yourselves.to get the last ounce of work out of every man, every gun, and every ship in the fleet; if you have not practiced steadily on the high seas until each ship can do its best, can show at its best, alone or in conjunction with others in fleet formation.
Remember that no courage can ever atone for lack of that preparedness which makes the courage valuable; and yet if the courage is there, if the dauntless heart is there, its presence will sometimes make up for other shortcomings; while if with it are combined the other military qualities the fortunate owner becomes literally invincible.
While the first class of US Navy Midshipmen - Charles Stewart, Stephen Decatur and Richard Somers attended the Philadelphia Academy, there was no formal institution to educate and prepare officers until the Navy Academy at Annapolis was established, so Midshipmen and promising officers were trained at sea.
The second of six US Navy ships named after Richard Somers was the USS Somers, a training vessel that became famous as the ship on which three young sailors were charged, convicted and hanged for an allegedly plotting a mutiny.
This Courier & Ives depicts the USS Somers with the mutineers hanging from the yardarm.
The story of the alleged mutiny and hangings inspired Melville, of Moby Dick fame, to write Billy Budd, the story of a young man falsely accused and hung aboard a ship.
The USS Somers was considered a cursed ship by its crews, and it sank off Mexico in a storm with all hands.
The wreck was located and artifacts were recovered by a team that included Jim Delgado, who is anxious to resume a planned search for the wrecks of the USS Philadelphia and USS Intrepid in Tripoli harbor.
According to his web site:
"Jim participated in the dives to identify the wreck of the famous US Naval brigSomers, scene of the US Navy's only mutiny on the high seas and the inspiration for Herman Melville's story, Billy Budd. The ship sank in 1846 during the conflict between the US and Mexico, the Mexican War. The wreck was discovered off Vera Cruz, Mexico by Jim's friend George Belcher in 1986, and the two worked to preserve the wreck and encourage the governments of the US and Mexico to protect it. In 1990, Jim led the official US Government team to Mexico to help negotiate a treaty between the two governments and to work with Mexico's Instituto Nacional de Antropologia y Historia, represented by Mexico's chief underwater archaeologist, Dra. Pilar Luna, to map the wreck aboard the Mexican Navy gunboat Margarita Maza de Juarez. Here, at mission's end in 1990, Jim poses at the Mexican War Memorial at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. Ironically, the "Somers affair" was one of the reasons the Naval Academy was founded. Somers was working as a training ship for young officers when the mutiny occurred, and the resultant scandal forced the Navy to move its training ashore."
Also see: Chapter on the wreck of the USS Somers in "300 Years at the Point."
While this photo from Jim's web site is labeled as being the "Mexican Monument" at Annapolis, I think it may be the monument the Navy Plebes (?) climb as a class, with the first one to reach the top said to be favored to be the first admiral. This monument is named after an officer from the Mexican War?, which is around the time that the USS Somers sank off Mexico. Admiral Denny talked about this monument when he was at Somers Mansion on Richard Somers Day (2009).
Jim Delgado participated in the search and discovery of the deep dive wreck USS Somers, and has plans for doing a documentary TV show on the search for the wreck of the USS Philadelphia in Tripoli Harbor.
Both the USS Philadelphia and the Intrepid sunk in Tripoli Harbor, but washed ashore along the east side of the harbor, near an old breastwork fort, called the English Fort and other name on old maps. Both ship wrecks are also located near the location of the Old Protestant Cemetery, which is about 100 yards from the harbor shore and within walking distance of the old English Fort.
According to the article in the Cleveland Plain Dealer (August, 2009), Dr. Anag, the director of Antiquities at the museum in the old castle fort, both the Philadelphia and the Intrepid wrecks have been covered over with cement, which should have served as a good preservative.
Jim said that he wanted to film the documentary on the Philadelphia wreck with John Davis, for a History Channel or National Geographic Channel special, but the once friendly atmosphere suddenly changed with the release of the convicted Lockerbe bomber, and the US relations with Libya remain rocky.
The cooperation that is necessary for the humanitarian maintenance of the Old Protestant Cemetery and the repatriation of the remains of American naval heroes is precisely what is needed to restore the friendly initiatives.
One of the things that the United States can bring to the table, other than our willingness to buy oil, is the educational, scientific and humanitarian programs that Libya could use, especially in the fields of archeology and the media.
In the interview Dr. Anag gave to the archeology magazine, he says Libya needs young archeology students, interns and tourists who want to work the many sites now being excavated, and some just being discovered.
While many of these are centuries old, the Tripoli Harbor sites of the Philadelphia and Intrepid wrecks, the English Fort, the original grave site and Old Protestant Cemetery are only two hundred years old, only yesterday in their scheme of things.
What would we hope to find?
At the wreck of the Philadelphia, they could expect to find cannons, and whatever one would expect to find in a frigate of that era.
There would be less of the Intrepid, but the hull should be easy to find, and it is said that the mast, which was blown onto the rocks by the explosion, may have been salvaged by the Libyans and could even be on display in the old castle fort museum run by Dr. Anag.
The mast of the Inrepid may be hanging near Ghadaffi's little Volkswagon Bug that he drove into Tripoli during the 1969 coup, and along with a box with the "bones and buttons" of the men of the Intrepid.
Also See The Underwater City of Tioda:
Tibuda or Tiboda is situated only a few kilometres to the west of Zwara city (Zuwarah), and sits about seven to ten meters under water and about 200 meters from the coast. It is not yet fully explored nor properly catalogued, as it was discovered only recently. Its close proximity to Zuwarah city may shed more light about the ancient history of Zuwara, before its ancient coast was claimed by the sea. The disappearance of land under the sea is a common occurrence in nature and the Mediterranean sea had claimed many coastal cities in the past and it was predicted that it will continue to do so in the future, especially after the predicted melting of the arctic and antarctic ice. Scientists have warned that many coastal cities are at risk and that the sea level could rise by nine metres (9 m). If scientists are correct, then Zuwarah itself will join its sister Tibuda in the near future. Around Greenland and Iceland, there are already a number of cities and villages registered as "endangered places", some of which are being moved to other localities.
However, it has been already said that Tibuda was the ancient port of the city of Zuwarah during the Roman period, and that the port was used to export the main commodities produced by the Zuwaran communities, mainly salt, lime and gypsum. The evidence for this comes from its Roman name. D. Haynes, in his An Archaeological And Historical Guide To The Pre-Islamic Antiquities of Tripolitania (p. 136.), gives a list of the names of the towns and villages that formed the stations along the Roman road across the coastal Tripolitania. Based on the Roman pictorial road-map of the Roman Empire, the Tabula Peutingeriana, and on the evidence preserved by the road milestones along this road, he gives the following names: Sabratha, Ad Ammonem, Casas, and Gypsaria (Marset Tibuda). Casas has been identified with Zuwarah, and Gypsaria (or Tibuda) is clearly related to gypsum, which indicates that the area around Tibuda could have also produced gypsum, the reason of which the port may have been built in that locality. The name Marset Tibuda clearly indicates that it was a seaport (marsa), from marina, which survives today in the local language in another name: elmers (Zuwara Marina), the current seaport of Zuwara, a few miles east of the city. However, it is not known yet if the port, like many other sites along the Libyan coast, was in existence before the Romans had arrived; only archaeological analysis of sunken Tibuda would indicate if the Phoenicians had an earlier connection with the buried port.
Libya ’ s 2000-kilometer-long coastline offers a unique opportunity to divers and underwater explorers to see what has never been seen before, including a large number of wrecks, sunken archaeological cities and sites (many of which are certainly to be discovered), and gold, supposedly lost to pirates and ships from the Second World War. Some tour operators offer cruises along the coast, with onboard diving facilities. The most popular diving destinations include Janzour, Tajoura and Zwara or Zuwarah. Unfortunately Tiboda is currently closed to public viewing without a written permission from the Libyan Board of Tourism and Traditional Industries. We can arrange tours to the sunken site only if visitors can secure a written permit from the Libyan Board of Tourism. Please do not attempt to visit the site without written permission no matter what your guide tells you, as this could land you in trouble with the authorities.
From what has been explored so far and from what has been released to the public, Tiboda looks like a small city with stone columns and building structures, thought to have been built thousands of years ago, probably dating back to the Carthaginian period, and may have been once more than a sea port, if not the ancient Casas or Zuwarah herself.
This conclusion is evidenced by the archaeological remains found south of Tibuda. These remains or ruins have always been there and were always part of Zuwarah's history. They are located about four kilometres (4 km) west of Zuwara, and the local Berbers call them ighermawen , the plural form of aghrem ('the castle'), from the fact that the remains constituted a number of ancient castles. As far as I know, the site is not catalogued nor fully studied by any academic authority. There is no doubt that the site is very ancient because among the finds were remains of Roman villas and buildings, mosaic pieces and pottery.
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
THE UNITED STATES AND THE SPECTER
OF ISLAM:THE EARLY NINETEENTH
The United States and the Specter of Islam
The Early Nineteenth Century
This paper explores how the emerging US political order was influenced by the views of Muslim societies held by prominent 19th century writers. The author argues that conflicts with Algiers and Tripoli were prompted by an economic desire to open the Mediterranean to US trade, but also reflected a profound ideological and cultural conflict between the country and Islamic societies. According to him, Americans regarded Algiers and Tripoli as models of despotism and decadence, and by defeating them hoped to prove that the US would not succumb to the same political and cultural evils Americans believed had subdued the people of the Barbary states.
Robert J. Allison
The American conflicts with Algiers (1785-1795, 1807, 1815) and with Tripoli (1801 1805) were prompted by an economic desire to open the Mediterranean to American trade.
But these conflicts also reflected a profound ideological and cultural conflict between the United States and Islamic societies.
Americans regarded Algiers and Tripoli as models of despotism and decadence, and by defeating them hoped to prove that the people of the United States would not succumb to the same political and cultural evils Americans believed had subdued the people of the Barbary states.
Three mysterious strangers, two men and a woman, landed in Norfolk, Virginia late in 1785. Though they arrived on a ship from England, they spoke no English. Governor Patrick Henry ordered them jailed, and sent Dr. William Foushee to interrogate them. Foushee could communicate with the three in French, which was neither his nor their first language. He could not read the documents they carried, written in Hebrew, so he could
not attest to their meaning. Though he could read the documents they carried written in English, which suggested that the three had come from Morocco, they could not read them and so could not attest to what they said. Fouchee reported this mutual bafflement to Governor Henry, who concluded that the three were spies sent to Virginia by the Dey of Algiers, and he ordered them put on the next ship back to Europe.
Why would three strangers from Algiers, if that is indeed where they were from, so alarm Patrick Henry and the Virginians? Algiers had declared war on the U.S. in July, and by the end of the summer had captured two American merchant ships, holding their crews hostage. Threat of capture sent insurance rates up for American vessels, and kept other
American merchants out of the Mediterranean. British newspapers even reported that Algiers had captured the ship bringing home American diplomat Benjamin Franklin from Paris. Franklin, the papers said, was bearing up well in Algerian captivity.
Algiers, and other Muslim states, presented a certain kind of threat to the emerging American political order. Henry and other American leaders had learned about Islam and Muslim societies from the most influential Robert J. Allison, Department of Histor y, Suffolk University political writers of the century, Thomas Trenchard and Robert Gordon, and Charles Secondat, Baron Montesquieu, and Voltaire. Trenchard and
Gordon’s Cato’s Letters formed the political canon for the founding generation of American political leaders, warned Englishmen of the 1720s that if they were not cautious of their liberty and jealous of the King’s power, England could degenerate into political tyranny almost without comparison. To dramatize tyranny’s evils, Trenchard and Gordon pointed to Moroccan emperor, Mulay Isma’il (1672-1727). His gullible subjects believed him to be descended from the prophet, and considered themselves blessed to have their heads lopped off by his divine hand. Forty thousand blessed Moroccans, according to Trenchard and Gordon, had been dispatched by the emperor. In Turkey, the Sultan was considered to be the “vice-regent of God” and the only law was his “Lust, his Maggots, or his Rage.” His status as protector of the faith gave him unlimited power.
“Turkish Slavery is confirmed, and Turkish Tyranny defended by Religion!” Montesquieu, the French political theorist, used Turkey as a model of despotic government in Spirit of the Laws, and Voltaire’s 1742 play, Le Fanatisme ou Mahomet le Prophete, translated into English as Mahomet, the Imposter shows the founder of Islam as a power-mad fanatic able to seduce others into his dreams of grandeur.1
Blind belief in a ruler or a leader, and an acceptance of the status quo as God’s will, bred a kind of intellectual lethargy. French philosophe Abbe Constantin Francois de Chassebouef Volney traveled through Egypt and Syria in the 1780s. He noted that these places, which once had been flourishing centers of trade an learning, had become cultural, commercial, and intellectual backwaters. How had this happened? In the book he wrote after returning to Paris Volney speculated that the Ottoman empire’s despotism caused the decay, and it would “ruin the labours of past ages, and destroy the hopes of future times, because the barbarity of ignorant despotism never considers tomorrow.” 2 Behind this ignorant despotism Volney saw religion’s pernicious hand, a point he elaborated in his next book, The Ruins, or a Survey of the Revolutions of Empires. In The Ruins Volney advanced the idea suggested in the first book, that religious intolerance had stifled free inquiry and prevented men from rising above misery by making them accept their misery as God’s will. Volney wrote this book to warn the people of France of the dangers of religious intolerance. Volney and his books received a warm welcome from Americans.
William Eaton, whom John Adams would send to be American consul in Tunis, read Volney’s account of Syria and Egypt to prepare himself for his mission, and reported to the Secretary of State that he need not say anything about the character of Tunisia’s ruler because anyone who read Volney, as the Secretary had, would know all about these kinds of rulers. Thomas Jefferson was so struck by The Ruins, which had been translated into English in 1792 and had gone through two American editions by 1799, that he undertook a new translation in 1802, while he was President of the United States.3
The moral lesson of Algiers was clear. Religious intolerance and despotic governments were bad things. In building their government, Americans should avoid the paths of despotism. But what to do about the declaration of war by Algiers? John Adams, American minister to England, though the U.S. should so what all the nations of Europe did, and pay off Algiers to secure peaceful trade in the Mediterranean. Adams met with Tripoli’s ambassador in London, smoking a pipe and talking about the possibilities of opening trade. Abdurrahman though that for a certain sum the U.S. could secure treaties with all the North African countries, and would also help negotiate with the Ottoman sultan. Adams called Jefferson, American minister to France, to come to London to talk to Abdurrahman.
Jefferson reacted differently. If the U.S. began to practice the same kind of diplomacy as European nations did, it would be the first step toward degenerating into the same kind of corrupt society as England and France suffered under. Instead, Jefferson proposed securing peace through the medium of war.
The U.S. could either build a navy, or it could cooperate with other countries, such as Portugal—whose ships already patrolled the straits of Gibraltar to keep Algerian ships outs of the Atlantic—Sweden, Naples, Sardinia, and Russia.
He proposed a multinational military force, led by American naval hero John Paul Jones, to act against Algiers. It was a bold idea.
But the French government refused to allow this plan to be discussed on French soil. A popular maxim reportedly coined by British, Dutch, and French merchants, that “If there were no Algiers, we would have to build one,” shows the value that Algerian attacks on rival shipping had for the large powers.
Jefferson went home to the U.S., which had adopted a new government which had the power to tax American citizens and to raise a military force. Among his first acts was to draft a report on Mediterranean trade, showing the value of commerce in that sea which now was closed off the by the Algerian threats. Jefferson presented Congress with three options: to give up the Mediterranean, to pay tribute to Algiers and other powers, or to build a military force to secure Mediterranean peace and trade. The U.S. did nothing.
The two dozen sailors languished in Algiers until 1793, when they were joined by a hundred more men captured from a dozen more ships. England had arranged a truce between Portugal and Algiers, actually a fraudulent truce, which permitted Algerian cruisers to enter the Atlantic before Lisbon learned of the fraud. Jefferson had by now left the administration, but Washington and Congress acted quickly. The U.S. would build six frigates to protect American trade, and would also send negotiators to Algiers. Jefferson had already tried to send John Paul Jones to negotiate the release of the American captives (Jones dies before receiving his commission). The frigates were still in the planning stage in 1795, when the U.S. and Algiers signed a treaty.
In return for releasing the hostages and not taking any more, Algiers would receive $800,000 and an annual shipment of naval supplies, along with a new American-built frigate, the Crescent, and some smaller vessels.
The U.S. made similar treaties with Tunis and Tripoli.This was not a satisfactory solution to Jefferson, and the Republicans asked how the Federalists could keep a straight face while trumpeting their slogan, “Millions for defense, not one cent for tribute.”
The treaty settlement also did not please Pacha Yusuf Qaramanli of Tripoli. He received less than Algiers, the Americans had listened to Algerian claims that Tripoli was under Algerian hegemony, and the Americans were slow to send what they had promised. Yusuf’s cruisers captured an American ship in 1800, and though ship and crew were released, Yusuf hoped to secure recognition of Tripolitan sovereignty from the U.S., as well as more tribute promptly paid. His message reached Washington, the new capital city, just as Thomas Jefferson was becoming President.
Yusuf’s tone and demands, Jefferson said, would admit of but one answer. He sent the American fleet, which consisted of one frigate and a few smaller ships, to the Mediterranean. They were to co-operate with other powers at war with Yusuf, if indeed he wanted war with the Americans (Sweden and Tripoli were at war, and Portugal, Naples, and even Morocco might be allies in this).
In August 1801 the American ship Enterprise encountered a Tripolitan ship in the Mediterranean. The two ships fought, and in an engagement of several hours the American triumphed. The American now would only pay tribute out of the mouth of a cannon. In his first annual message Jefferson pointed to this as the first example of American naval heroism. Though the U.S. entered the war reluctantly, it was not through cowardice, he said, but because we preferred to devote our energies to the multiplication of the human race, rather than to its destruction.
Hardly had the smoke cleared from this battle than it was acted out on the New York stage. In The Tripolitan Prize, or an American Tar on an English Shore, performed in the fall of 1802, an American ship fights and subdues a Tripolitan ship. To make the drama even more compelling, the now forgotten author had the two ships fight off the coast of England. The American now could watch not only the American victory over Tripoli, but could see England’s reaction to the American victory. The Americans were not only teaching Tripoli a lesson, but were teaching England, which had for so long paid tribute to Tripoli, the best way to deal with Tripoli.
Another anonymous author in 1802 was even bolder. In a book with the remarkable title of The Life of Mahomet, or the History of that Imposture with was begun, carried on, and finally established by him in Arabia and which has subjugated a larger portion of the Globe, than the Religion of Jesus has yet set at liberty. To which is added, an account of Egypt, the Christian nations are called upon to invade Muslim nations to liberate the “sentiments of men” from Muslim fetters, and to allow the Muslim people to achieve a “mental revolution” aided by the “formidable attacks” of Christian “reason and judgement”.4 Though the Americans did not entirely take up this challenge, the blockade and bombardment of Tripoli were hailed by Americans and by some Europeans as an example for all. Pope
Pius VII declared that the Americans, with a small force, and in a matter of a few months, had done more against the Muslim infidels than all of the Christian Europe had for centuries.
Though the war would go on for four more years, the Americans already declared victory. Before the war was over, the Tripolitans would capture the largest ship in the American fleet, The Philadelphia, taking some 300 American sailors prisoner. Stephen Decatur destroyed the ship to prevent Tripoli from refitting it, sneaking in and out of Tripoli’s harbor without losing a man, in what Lord Nelson called the age’s boldest act of naval heroism, and became the greatest American naval hero of the day. The blockade and bombardment of Tripoli had some effect: the Pacha agreed to release the American captives, when the U.S. paid him $60,000. The U.S. navy and marines dispute who was responsible for ending the war: the naval blockade did threaten Tripoli’s economy, but the evidence that Ahmet Qaramanli could have overthrown his brother, even with American help, is not convincing. The U.S. agreed to pay $60,000 to release the American prisoners, and the war ended.
As far as victories go, it was not a clear one. The war with Tripoli did not solve, for Americans, the problems of Mediterranean trade. But it did resolve for Americans what their proper role in the world would be. They had created a government which would help them avoid the calamities of despotism, and at the same time opened up to them an inland empire, which diverted their attention away from the contentious Mediterranean.
The specter of Islam had warned Americans against religious and political
The war with Tripoli vindicated the American character. Joseph Hanson, who is not known to have written another line in his life, wrote an epic poem about the Tripolitan war, which presented the American sailors inspired by “justice and freedom” showing the “plundering vassals of the tyrannical Bashaw” that on “this side of the Atlantic, dwells a race of beings of equal spirit on the first of nations!”5
More proof of this could be found in the popular print, “Blowing up of the Fire Ship Intrepid.” The Intrepid had been turned into a floating bomb, and with ten men commanded by Captain Somers and Lieutenants Israel and Henry Wadsworth it stole into Tripoli harbor. The plan was to detonate the ship beneath the walls of the castle, but they were discovered, and either intentionally or accidentally set off the bomb. All the Americans died, as a contemporary engraving says, preferring “Death and the Destruction of the Enemy, to Captivity & a torturing Slavery.” (Three years later Wadsworth’s sister, Zilpah, married to Stephen Longfellow, would name her first son Henry Wadsworth in his honor. Young H.W. Longfellow became an ardent and gentle pacifist, but also an inspiring nationalist).
A popular novel, the Captivity and Suffering of Mrs. Maria Martin, told the fictional story of a woman taken captive in Algiers, who endures solitary confinement for refusing the advances of a lustful Turk. She nearly goes mad, in a scene paralleling the moment of salvation in a conversion narrative, then is released. Published more than a dozen times between 1807 and 1818, Martin’s story presents her self-reliance and ability to preserve her virtue as a moral example. The fact that her story takes place in Algiers, not in Tripoli, underscores the way Americans conflated these various places, a point brought home by another contemporary illustration, Stephen Decatur’s “Conflict with the Algerine at Tripoli.”
As with the blowing up of the Intrepid, this painting is based on a true incident. Decatur, who had been promoted to Captain after his destruction of the Philadelphia, had commanded a ship during the battle of Tripoli harbor, 3 August 1804. His brother James had commanded another ship, which forced a Tripolitan vessel to surrender. Or so James Decatur thought. The Tripolitan captain struck his colors, but when the Americans boarded he and his crew attacked them and killed James Decatur. At the end of the day, as Stephen Decatur and the other victorious Americans left Tripoli harbor, he learned of the treachery which had killed his brother. He order his ship back into Tripoli, sought out his brother’s killer, boarded the ship, and engaged in hand-to-hand combat with the Tripolitan captain. As Decatur and the Tripolitan were struggling, another Tripolitan sailor tried to kill Decatur from behind. The captain was saved by the interposition of Daniel Fraser, who took the blow aimed at Decatur’s head. This action doubled the heroic character of Decatur, and also made a hero of the American sailor, though subsequently a sailor named Reuben James would also take credit for the act. Reuben James, or Daniel Fraser, represents the every American who has a part to play in this struggle against tyranny. A contemporary American songwriter promised that if any despot dared insult the American flag, “We’ll send them Decatur to teach the ‘Good Manners.’”6
Two decades after he had interrogated the three mysterious strangers in Richmond, Dr. William Foushee presided at a Richmond banquet in honor of Decatur and other heroes of Tripoli. This was just one of many celebrations held throughout the young nation as victorious men returned.
In 1805, when the American sailors returned victorious from Tripoli, they were welcomed with plays and public receptions, with painting linking their bombardment of Tripoli to the Battle of Bunker Hill.
Maryland lawyer Francis Scott Key was just one of many to celebrate the returning heroes in song.
Set to a popular English drinking song, “Anacreon in Heaven,” Key’s song calls on Americans to behold this band of brothers who have secured their fame and rights, overcoming the perils of sea and desert, and the conflict resistless. Their foes “shrunk dismay’d from the war’s desolation,” and even the Crescent was obscured by the new “star-spangled flag of our nation.”
The flaming stars in the American flag became meteors of war, and forced the “turbaned head” to bow down as the blue waves turned red with “infidel blood.”
The encounter with Tripoli had revealed, Key and other hoped, something of American character and resolve.
Though Key’s song, written in 1805, is now forgotten, its melody lingers on.
The following elegant and appropriate song was sung at Georgetown, at an entertainment given by the citizens to captains Stephen Decatur and Charles Stewart. It would not discredit the pen of a Payne.
When the warrior returns from the battle afar
To the home and the country he was nobly defended,
Oh! Warm by the welcome to gladden his ear,
And loud be the Joys that his perils are ended!
In the full tide of song, let his fame roll along.
To the feast-flowing board let us gratefully throng.
Where mixt with the olive the laurel shall wave
And form a bright wreath for the brow of the brave.
Columbians a band of thy brothers behold!
Who claim their reward in they heart’s warm emotion:
When thy cause, when thy honour urg’d onward the bold,
In vain frown’d the desert—in vain rag’d the ocean.
To a far distant shore—to the battle’s wild roar
They rush’d they fair fame and thy right to secure.
Then mixt with the olive the laurel shall wave,
And form a bright wreath for the brow of the brave.
In conflict resistless each toil they endur’d
Till their foes shrunk dismay’d from the war’s desolation:
And pale beam’d the Crescent, its splendor obscured
By the light of the star-spangled flag of our nation.
Where each flaming star gleam’d a meteor of war,
And the turban’d heads bowed to the terrible glare.
Then mixt with the olive the laurel shall wave,
And form a bright wreath for the brow of the brave.
Our fathers who stand on the summit of fame,
Shall exultingly hear, of their sons, the proud story,
How their young bosoms glow’d with the patriot flame,
How they fought, how they fell, in the midst of their glory.
How triumphant they rode, o’er the wandering flood,
And stain’d the blue waters with infidel blood;
How mixt with the olive the laurel did wave,
And form a bright wreath for the brow of the brave.
Then welcome the warrior return’d from afar,
To the home and the country he so nobly defended.
Let the thanks due to valor now gladden his ear,
And loud be the joy that his perils are ended.
In the full tide of song, let his fame roll along.
To the feast-flowing board let us gratefully throng.
Where mixt with the live the laurel shall wave
And form a bright wreath for the brow of the brave.
[Francis Scott Key]
New York Evening Post, January 9, 1806.
Boston Independent Chronicle, December 30, 1805
1 John Trenchard and Thomas Gordon, Cato’s Letters (4 vol., London,
1723) 2: 194-195, 47-48; 1: 192-193; Charles Secondat, Baron de
Montesquieu, Spirit of the Laws, tr. Thomas Nugent (New York: Hafner
Publishing Co., 1949) I, Francois Marie Arout de Voltaire, Le Fanatisme
ou Mahonet le Prophete (Paris, 1742) translated by James Miller as
Mahomet, the Imposter (London, 1744). All of this elaborated more in
Robert Allison, Crescent Obscured: The U.S. and the Muslim World, 1776-
1815 (New York, 1995).
2 Volney, Travels through Egypt and Syria in the Years 1783, 1784, &1785
(2 vols., New York, 1798) 1:7.
3 Volney, The Ruins, or a Survey of the Revolutions of Empires (London,
1792); Barlow and Jefferson translation, Paris, 1802); William Eaton
Letterbook, 13 February 1799, 28-29, Eaton Papers, Henry E.
4 The Life of Mahomet, or the History of that Imposture which was begun,
carried on, and finally established by him in Arabia; and which has subju -
gated a larger portion of the Globe, than the Religion of Jesus has yet set at
liberty. To which is added, an account of Egypt. (Worcester, Massachusetts:
Isaiah Thomas, 1802) 85, 83-84.
5 Jospeh Hanson, The Musselmen Humbled, or, a Heroic Poem in
Celebration of the Bravery Displayed by the American Tars, in the Contest
with Tripoli (New York: Printed for the Author by Southwick and
Hardcastle, 1806) 4-5.
6 New York Evening Post, 15 Mar 1806
align='middle' border='0' />
Robert J. Allison - From The United States and the Specter of Islam: The Early 19th Century. >
....A popular novel, the Captivity and Suffering of Mrs. Maria Martin, told the fictional story of a woman taken captive in Algiers, who endures solitary confinement for refusing the advances of a lustful Turk. She nearly goes mad, in a scene paralleling the moment of salvation in a conversion narrative, then is released. Published more than a dozen times between 1807 and 1818, Martin’s story presents her self-reliance and ability to preserve her virtue as a moral example. The fact that her story takes place in Algiers, not in Tripoli, underscores the way Americans conflated these various places, a point brought home by another contemporary illustration, Stephen Decatur’s “Conflict with the Algerine at Tripoli.”
As with the blowing up of the Intrepid, this painting is based on a true incident. Decatur, who had been promoted to Captain after his destruction of the Philadelphia, had commanded a ship during the battle of Tripoli harbor, 3 August 1804.
His brother James had commanded another ship, which forced a Tripolitan vessel to surrender. Or so James Decatur thought. The Tripolitan captain struck his colors, but when the Americans boarded he and his crew attacked them and killed James Decatur. At the end of the day, as Stephen Decatur and the other victorious Americans left Tripoli harbor, he learned of the treachery which had killed his brother. He order his ship back into Tripoli, sought out his brother’s killer, boarded the ship, and engaged in hand-to-hand combat with the Tripolitan captain. As Decatur and the Tripolitan were struggling, another Tripolitan sailor tried to kill Decatur from behind. The captain was saved by the interposition of Daniel Fraser, who took the blow aimed at Decatur’s head. This action doubled the heroic character of Decatur, and also made a hero of the American sailor, though subsequently a sailor named Reuben James would also take credit for the act.
Reuben James, or Daniel Fraser, represents the every American who has a part to play in this struggle against tyranny. A contemporary American songwriter promised that if any despot dared insult the American flag, “We’ll send them Decatur to teach the ‘Good Manners.’”6
US Navy warships have been named for both Reuben James and Daniel Fraser, as well as Stephen Decatur.
Monday, November 2, 2009
Sample of a US Navy Officer Uniform Button
Eagle with Fowled Anchor surrounded by stars.
Uniform standards issued in 1802
When the Libyans excavated the original grave site in 2006, they reported they found "bones and buttons."
The buttons could help identify the officers as separate from the other men.
According to US Navy uniform regulations established in 1804, the officer's uniform style was established.
These buttons, while manufactured at different locations by different companies, all seem to incorporate certain attributes, including the eagle and the fowled anchor.
Sunday, November 1, 2009
When Captain Edward Preble was relieved by Commodore Rodgers, a few days after the explosion of the Intrepid, Preble returned to the United States in dispair, believing he had failed in four attacks on Tripoli, to free the captured crew of the Philadelphia, and lost four of the Navy's promising young officers in Somers, Wadsworth, Israel and Caldwell, whose names are on the Tripoli monument at Annapolis.
Unexpectedly, Preble was welcomed home a hero, with banquets held in his honor, and Congress issuing a resolution honoring him with this gold coin, and issuing the officers who served under him a special sword, while the men under him were given bonuses.
This is the coin, with the bust of Preble on one side and palm tree lined Tripoli harbor on the other.
The bust of Preble was said to have been based on a portrait of Preble done while Preble was in Philadelphia, enroute from Washington to New York. Banquets in his honor were given in each city, and while in Philadelphia, Preble sat while his portrait was painted by Peale.
Another portrait of Preble was done by a women, who must have based it on the coin because the blue color of the uniform is wrong, though I have yet to see the original Peale portrait.
Saturday, October 31, 2009
The Intrepid Infernal
By Commander Tyrone G. Martin, U.S. Navy (Retired)
Navy History magazine, October, 2004
United States Naval Institute
The plan was for the bomb-laden Intrepid to be steered toward Tripoli harbor, for her crewmen to light the powder train and escape, and for the ship to explode, causing destruction of the enemy bashaw's terriroty. The plan backfired.
Negotiations had proved futile. Commodore Samuel Barron and his four reinforcing frigates still had not appeared. The fighting season rapidly was ending. Commodore Edward Preble decided on a dramatic act to try to bring things to a head. In March, he had advised the Navy Secretary that he intended to use a lot of powder to blow up the bashaw of Tripoli's works; Now, he thought, was the time for it.
Newly promoted Master Commandant Ricard Somers was the forth senior officer in the American squadron and had begun the 1804 campaign to command the 12-gun schooner Nautilus.
A native of Somers Point, New Jersey, he had been in naval service since 1798, coincident with his longtime chums, Charles Stewart and Stephen Decatur, and with them initially had served on the United States, where he eventually became third lieutenant. It as early in this tour that Somers felt compelled to duel six of his fellow midshipmen.
Wounded in the arm in the first encounter and in the thigh in the second, Somers, seated and braced by Decatur, succeeded in wounding his third opponent. At that point, the remaining three declared honor satisfied and the affair ended. His only other service prior to commanding the Nautilus had been duty in the first American Mediterranean squadron on board the small frigate Boston. During this period, he saw Tripoli for the first time, but accomplished little else as his quixotic captain, Daniel McNeil, never reported to Commodore Morris for duty. McNeil was cashiered on the ship's return to the United States. Decatur, Stewart, and Somers were Preble's principal subordinates in the current squadron.
The little Intrepid, the 60-foot onetime transport for Napoleon's Egyptian expedition and the former Tripolitan Mastico, after lying largely inert in Syracuse since her February escapade to destroy the Philadelphia, joined the squadron off Tripoli on 22 August. She was about to perform her last service to her country of capture. On 29 August 1804, Preble ordered his carpenters to make her over into an "infernal," a gigantic floating bomb.
First, they planked in the forward portion of the hold, making it a magazine. Into it was placed about five tons (100 barrels) of black powder in bulk. Atop this were laid 100 13-inch mortar shells and 50 9-inch shells, as well as an assortment of kentledge (iron ballast blocks), shot, and anything that would make a deadly missile. A wooden trough was run after to another compartment filled with combustibles. A powder train was laid in the trough, connecting the combustibles to two 15-minute fuses run through musket barrels mounted in the magazine bulkhead and into the powder. The Intrepid was to be run in amongst the bashaw's fleet, or even against the castle wall, the combustible room having been lighted to give her the appearance of a fire ship. The powder train would carry the fire along to the magazine which, if the timing was right, would go off as planned, causing much destruction in its vicinity. A small crew would be necessary to guide her in under the cover of darkness until she was headed fair for her target, when the combustibles would be lighted and the helm lashed, and the crew would depart in attending launches.
Preparations in the Intrepid were completed by 1 September. Somers claimed her command as his chance for glory. Commodore Preble granted him his wish, displacing Acting Lieutenant Joseph Israel, who had overseen the ship's preparation, for the duration of the operation.
Newly promoted Acting Lieutenant Henry Wadsworth of the Constitution was the third officer, while four seamen from the Nautilus (Seaman James Harris, William Keith, James Simms, and Thoams Tompline) and six from the Constitution (Seamen William Harrison, Hugh McCormick, and Jacob Williams; Ordinary Seamen Robert Clark, isassc W. Downs, and Peter Penner) completed her compliment. All were volunteers. The officers vowed that the only way the Tripolitans would get the powder was in a blast.
Everything seemed right that evening for the operation. Preble stood the squadron, less the Intrepid, in toward Tripoli during the afternoon. As the sun set, they came to anchor about two miles off the town, and the Tripolitan warships could just be made out taking up their usual nighttime stations between the mole and the castle. At 2230, Soemrs and his volunteers manned the Intrepid, and a half hour later slipped her cable and bore down on the western entrance on a fair east-southeast wind. They were within about 400 yards of the entrance when the wind suddenly shifted south, taking the Intrepid all aback and making further progress impossible. Somers turned back, and at 0200 rejoined the squadron. Nobody in the port seemed to have been the wiser.
The next dawning, as was their custom, the Tripolitan gunboats left their defensive line deep in the harbor and began moving as if to take up their usual daytime positions inside the rocks adjacent to the western entrance. Soon, however, they moved to new positions under the protection of the English fort to the east of the town and to windward of the normal operations area of the Americans.
Preble appreciated the move, seeing that it gave the pirates the weather gauge (wind advantage) in the event the Americans deployed as they had previously. The commodore adjusted his plan accordingly, sending his gunboats to duel with their opposite numbers while the frigate and ketches worked over the castle and fortifications.
It required the rest of the morning and a part of the afternoon for the brigs and schooners to tow their gunboats to positions from which they could descend upon the Tripolitan flotilla at the eastern end of the harbor. At 1430, the flagship signaled the attack and the two divisions went forward, one paying particular attention to the gunboats and the other to the English fort and a new fortification slightly to its west, nicknamed by some of the "American fort." For the next two hours, the sides flailed away at one another without material result.
To the west, Preble had sent in the bomb ketches to bombard the city. Taking position more than a mile off, the two craft had their best day since the attack of 7 August.
Out of 41 shells fired, 33 exploded in the town. Although both units suffered rigging damage from the Tripolitan return fire, it was self-inflicted damage that put Number 1 out of action. Repeated firing of the massive mortar (and apparently inadequate repairs a few days earlier) resulted in the mortar bed giving way and hull timbers starting. She broke off firing with two feet of water in her hold.
The ever-watchful Preble saw what was happening to the bomb-ketches. Once more the Constitution spread her canvas high and wide and bore down on the offending batteries. Some 80 cannon opened at her as she came, raising sprouts of water all around her and sometimes throwing the spray even on the glistening canvas. At 1530 she came to, her port side broadside fair on the town, and there she lay at three cable's length for 40 minutes, crashing shot after shot into the pirate stronghold - more than 200 rounds this time. As on earlier occasions, the shifting wind necessitated the signal to haul off shore, which all units did without incident.
Following a day of repair and resupply, Preble found the evening of 3 September right for the use of the infernal, the Intrepid.
A light haze covered the surface of the sea, making visibility difficult beyond a couple of hundred yards, although the stars clearly were seen overhead.
At 2,000, Intrepid slipped her cable and headed for the port's western entrance, just inside of which three Tripolitan gunboats were known to have taken their regular night stations. She was towing two fast rowing boats, one each from the Constitution and the Nautilus, to be used in the escape from the time bomb.
The Argus, Vixen, Nautilus, and some what later, the Siren, all followed Somers's dangerous craft. They would take up stations off the rocks to pick up the returning daredevils.
Lieutenant George Washington Read, Somer's next senior officer in the Nautilus, was the last to speak to Somers as the escorts dropped away. He later reported that the "Intrepids" were calm, in good order, and determined as they parted company.
Slowly, the Intrepid moved forward and disappeared into the haze. Some claimed to have seen her throughout what followed, but it seems more likely that her gradual disappearance left them convinced themselves they still could make out her form.
After some moments, the Tripolitan batteries were seen and heard to open fire, a fire that seemed aimed at nothing in particular.
About ten minutes after the shore batteries opened up, at about 2147, according to Sailing Master Nathaniel Haraden of the Constitution, there was a tremendous explosion and a burst of light. In an instant a fiery column flashed skyward. In it, some saw Intrepid's mast rising straight up, trailing its rigging. So swiftly did the fire flash and die that none saw the mast come down.
From the point of explosion fountained burning shells, arching across the sky in all directions and raining down on sea and shore alike. And then there was deafening silence, as both sides stopped in awe of what they had seen.
Clearly, something had gone wrong. There had not been time for Somers to have gotten his craft to its destination before the explosion. The haze had prevented a sure knowledge of where the Intrepid was when she blew up. Still the American units waited off the rocks through the night and waning hope that their shipmates would come rowing out of the gloom as Decatur had done the preceding February.
The Intrepid's mast could be seen resting on the rocks just to the west of the entrance the next morning. Also there was what appeared to be a portion of her keel or bottom.
Coincidently, three of the enemy gunboats seemed to be missing. Commodore Preble, with so few clues, concluded that Somers had been boarded, or at least cornered, by the picket of boats and that, true to his word, he fired the charge so that the Tripolitans could not get the powder.
However, given the location of the wreckage at or outside the entrance, it does not seem likely that Somers got far enough to engage the gunboats. He probably missed the entrance in the poor visibility and went gently aground on the rocks on the est side of the entrance. In that vulnerable position, he may have been hit by a stray shot from one of the Tripolitan guns; or perhaps the jar of grounding set off the powder; or perhaps, in the confusion that must have occurred when she struck, someone aboard caused an accident or panicked.
The next morning, Commodore William Bainbridge, the senior of the bashaw's American prisoners, received permission to see the bodies. He had two of his lieutenants accounted for all 13; two bodies still in the wreck, ten floating in varous parts of the harbor or washed ashore southeast of the town, and one in Constitution's boat, which drifted ashore farther down the coast to the west. None of the bodies was recognizable; some were not all there. Somers' remains were identified by his breeches. Those found on the beach subsequently were buried nearby, Bainbridge himself conducting a short service.
Preble's infernal had done absolutely no damage to the Tripolitans. The loss of personnel in this bizarre mode of attack stunned the squadron. The commodore himself deeply felt the loss.
Preparations began anew the next morning for yet another attack, but without quite the drive that had characterized Preble's earlier efforts. The loss of Somers and company and the frustration of his inability to bring the Bashaw to terms, combined with a spate of bad weather on 5 September, led to commodore to call off preparations and to make ready the bomb ketches and gunboats for return to Naples. The season, he decided, was too far advanced to risk keeping the unwieldly craft on the open sea any longer. Late on 6 September, the John Adams, Siren, Enterprise, and Nautilus towed them offshore, on their way home.
Barron and two frigates, the President and Constellation, were sighted at noon on 9 September, and when they joined later that afternoon, Edward Preble hauled down his broad command pennant. Although he did not feel it as the moment, the months to come would prove how very successful he really had been.
Early in the new year, shortly after Preble returned to the United States, Congress voted him a gold medal, swords for each commissioned officer and midshipmen (never delivered), and a month's pay bonus to each of the sailors in his squadron.
The 200 years since have seen ships bearing the names of a number of these officers and men serving in the Navy: six named for Somers, five for Preble, three for Sailing Master Trippe, two each for Lieutenant James R. Caldwell, Midshipman John D. Henley, and Seaman Reuben James, and one each for Acting Lieutenant Joseph Israel, Midshipman John S. Dorsey, and Seaman Daniel Fraser.
(Both James and Fraser were credited, at later times, with saving Stephen Decatur's life in his first gunboat attack.)
Midshipman Robert T. Spence, who persisted in firing his bow cannon even as Gunboat 9 sank under him and survived, also had a destroyer named for him. Neither Lieutenant James Decatur nor Acting Lieutenant Henry Wadsworth have been so honored, perhaps because each had a brother who was: Stephen Decatur and Alexander S. Wadsworth. Henry gained a remembered memorial, however, when his nephew was named for him: Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.
[Commander Martin is a frequent contributor to Naval History and Proceedings. He once commanded the latest USS Somers (DD-947)]
Tyrone Gabriel Martin is a retired United States Navy Commander, and a naval historian, most notable as an authority on the USS Constitution ("Old Ironsides"), of which he was the 58th Commanding Officer.
Martin was born in Greenwich, Connecticut 5 June 1930 and commissioned an officer through the NROTC in 1952. During his twenty-six years of Navy service he commanded two destroyers on tours of duty off Korea and Vietnam finally becoming the Commanding Officer (Captain) of Constitution on 6 August 1974. In July 1976, during the United States Bicentennial celebrations, Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, arrived for their state visit and privately toured the ship for approximately thirty minutes with Commander Martin and Secretary of the Navy J. William Middendorf.
During Martin's tenure as Commanding Officer, several traditions were instituted that are still observed by the crew of Constitution such as the wearing of 1812 era uniforms and the practice of firing morning and sunset guns. Constitution received her first Meritorious Unit Commendation during his tour and Martin was the first Captain to be decorated for service since Charles Stewart. Martin turned over command of the ship to Commander Robert Leo Gillen on 30 June 1978.
Now retired, Martin has written several books about "Old Ironsides", as well as numerous articles on various aspects of the ship and her times, plus the "Salty Talk" column in the journal Naval History.
FOR THE RECORD: THE PRINT AT THE TOP OF THE STORY IS THE SAME ONE USED IN THE ARTICLE'S PUBLICATION, AND REMINDS ME OF THE COURIER & IVES PRINT OF THE HANGING FOR MUTINY ON THE USS SOMERS, WHICH INSPIRED THE STORY OF BILLY BUDD.