Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Barry Day Educational Jetsam - Gannett

Want to know why the first American diplomats and military attaches in Tripoli were totally unaware of the remains of the men of the USS Intrepid and unattended issues from the First Barbary War?

Just read this, and Jonathan Tamari explains it all.
And why they keep requiring certain subjects to be taught even though certain teachers don't really want to bother teaching them.

It reminds me of a time when I was in Ireland, back packing around Europe, staying at an "anarchist commune," squatters living in the gate house of what was once a great estate that had fallen into disrepair and these hippies were living there. I joined them for a few nights, plowed their little potato garden and ate dinner with them at the end of the day.

While the dinner guests at those meals deserve a story of their own, what makes me think of it now is the young, teenage Irish lass who prepared the dinners, a school girl who complained about having to take compulsory Galic as a language in school.

"It's a dead language," she complained, "and we'll never get a chance to use it, unless we moved to the islands, and they make us take it, by law. It's a waste of time."

And everyone seemed to agree with her, and sorry she had the misfortune of having to learn Galic in Irish schools, but then she said something funny, yet true, and wise beyond her years.

"If they'd outlaw it, we'd all be speaking it," she said.

And indeed, instead of requiring schools teach about John Barry, Richard Somers, the Holocost and 9/11, they should out law them from being taught in the schools, like prayer, and then their stories would be secretly taught, and the lessons of their lives learned.

I think Jonathan Tamari needs a lesson in Constitutional democracy and Jim O'Neill a lesson in researching the lives of early American heroes, John Barry in particular.

There probably wouldn't be a Constitution as we know it today if it wasn't for Barry, and his group of "Persuaders," who acted as an unofficial sergeant at arms, tracked down reluctant delegates and escorted them to Convention Hall to ensure a legal quorum.

And having recognized the role of John Barry, schoolmaster, in educating Somers, Decater and Stewart - the first generation of midshipmen, and the role of Captain John Barry in the development of the Navy, exemplified in three Presidential Resolutions, I have easily determined a dozen lines of inquiry that have yet to be adequately researched about both John Barrys, and Terry Jacob's idiotic statement, "Not much about Commodore Barry has changed." And he says it with a smirk.

Someone will have to change the minds of narrow minded reporters like Tamari, ignorant administrators like O'Neill and idiot principles like Jacob.

Commodore Barry Day? It's educational jetsam.

By Jonathan Tamari
Gannett State Bureau


Today New Jersey school children celebrate the holiday that almost wasn't. At least some of them will.

After all, it's Commodore Barry Day.


You know - Commodore John Barry, the Revolutionary War captain often called the Father of the American Navy. Kids learn about him in school. It's required.

State law mandates that schools teach Commodore Barry Day. Sept. 13. If it doesn't ring a bell you're not alone.

"You're one of the six people who remembers?" Chatham Schools Superintendent Jim O'Neill asked when a reporter called to find out how his district will mark the day.

The little-known holiday had a moment in the limelight earlier this year when lawmakers almost wiped it off the books while trying to eliminate some educational mandates as part of their effort to lower property taxes. Teaching certain holidays would have become optional.

Veterans, however, objected to provisions eliminating the school requirements for Veterans Day and Memorial Day, saying soldiers should be honored and remembered, and Gov. Jon S. Corzine, using his veto, preserved the mandatory teaching of those holidays - along with Presidents Day, Columbus Day and Commodore Barry Day.

The change became a small symbol of property tax reform backpedaling. Even the Commodore Barry lobby flexed its muscle.

O'Neill would have like to see the mandates go, saying more learning has little impact on real education. So will his schools still honor the Commodore?

For a moment, he demurs. This is, after all, required.

"Our teachers recognize Commodore Barry when we cover a part of history that he was involved in. But we do not make special note of the day," O'Neill said. "I think that nine out of ten who are honest will tell you the same thing."

Surely someone must celebrate Barry, an Irish-born seaman who spent most of his life in Philadelphia. What about Logan Township? The Gloucester County community is home to 6,000 residents and the New Jersey end of the Commodore Barry Bridge, which spans the Delaware River.

"You would think of all the schools, we would do something," Terry Jacobs, principal of Logan Elementary School, said with a laugh.

Only it doesn't. The school used to hold an annual essay contest, with the winner reading his or her submission over the P.A. system. But the essays were the same, year after year.

"Not much about Commodore Barry changed," Jacobs said.

But Barry gets his due just down the street, at the Center Square School, home to prekindergarten through first grade. Each year first-graders make telescopes and naval hats out of paper, explained Donna Lezar, a teacher. One lucky student gets a hat from a real Navy uniform, and the school sings a Commodore Barry song to the tune of "Yankee Doodle."

For a school where two of the teachers' husbands helped build the Commodore Barry Bridge, it's simple and fun, Lesar said.

And how will the man who saved Commodore Barry Day mark the first celebration since its near demise?

Corzine has only one public event on his schedule today, and it doesn't involve Commodore Barry. The governor will be at a morning bill signing in Cherry Hill, some 30 miles from LOgan.

Jonathan Tamari
Camden Courier-Post
Thursday, September 13, 2007

Official Proclamations & Resolutions

Official Proclamations and Resolutions

RESOLUTIONS, Expressing the Sense of Congress on the Gallant Conduct of Lieut. Sterret, the Officers and Crew of the United States Schooner Enterprize.

RESOLVED by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That they entertain a high sense of the gallant conduct of Lieutenant Sterret, and the other officers, seamen and marines, on board the schooner Enterprize, in the capture of a Tripolitan corsair, of fourteen guns and eighty men.

Resolved, That the President of the United States be requested to present to Lieutenant Sterret, a sword, commemorative of the aforesaid heroic action; and that one month's pay be allowed to all the other officers, seamen and marines, who were on board the Enterprize when the aforesaid action took place.

APPROVED February 3,1802.

RESOLUTION Expressive of the Sense of Congress of the Gallant Conduct of Captain Stephen Decatur, the Officers and Crew of the United States Ketch Intrepid, in Attacking in the Harbor of Tripoli, and Destroying, a Tripolitan Frigate of Forty-four Guns.

Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That the President of the United States be requested to present, in the name of Congress, to Captain Stephen Decatur, a sword, and to each of the officers and crew of the United States ketch Intrepid, two months pay, as a testimony of the high sense entertained by Congress of the gallantry, good conduct and services of Captain Decatur, the officers and crew of the said ketch, in attacking in the harbor of Tripoli, and destroying a Tripolitan frigate of forty-four guns.

APPROVED, November 27, 1804.

Resolutions Expressive of the Sense of Congress of the Gallant Conduct of Commodore Edward Preble, the Officers, Seamen and Marines of His Squadron.

Resolved by the Senate and Hoarse of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That the thanks of Congress be, and the same are hereby presented to Commodore Edward Preble, and through him to the officers, petty officers, seamen and marines attached to the squadron under his command, for their gallantry and good conduct, displayed in the several attacks on the town, batteries and naval force of Tripoli, in the year one thousand eight hundred and four.

Resolved, That the President of the United States be requested to cause a gold medal to be struck, emblematical of the attacks on the town, batteries and naval force of Tripoli, by the squadron under Commodore Preble's command, and to present it to Commodore Preble, in such manner as in his opinion will be most honourable to him. And that the President be further requested to cause a sword to be presented to each of the commissioned officers and midshipmen who have distinguished themselves in the several attacks.

Resolved, That one month's pay be allowed exclusively of the common allowance to all the petty officers, seamen and marines of the squadron, who so gloriously supported the honour of the American flag, under the orders of their gallant commander in the several attacks.

Resolved, That the President of the United States be also requested to communicate to the parents or other near relatives of Captain Richard Somers, lieutenants Henry Wadsworth, James Decatur, James R. Caldwell, Joseph Israel, and midshipman John Sword Dorsey, the deep regret which Congress feel for the loss of those gallant men, whose names ought to live in the recollection and affection of a grateful country, and whose conduct ought to be regarded as an example to future generations.

APPROVED, March 3, 1805.

Resolution Concerning the Danish Consul at Tripoli

RESOLVED by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That the President of the United States be requested to cause to be made known to Nicholas C. Nissen, Esquire, his Danish majesty's consul residing at Tripoli, the high sense entertained by Congress, of his disinterested and benevolent attentions, manifested to Captain Bainbridge, his officers, and crew, during the time of their captivity in Tripoli.

APPROVED, April 10, 1806.


No. 91

Establishing September 4th Richard Somers Day in the State of New Jersey

Sponsored by:
Assemblyman JOHN C. GIBSON
District 1 (Cape May, Atlantic and Cumberland)
Assemblyman JEFF VAN DREW
District 1 (Cape May, Atlantic and Cumberland)


Permanently establishing September 4th as Richard Somers Day

A Joint Resolution permanently establishing September 4th as Richard Somers Day in New Jersey.

WHEREAS, Richard Somers, born during the American Revolution on September 15, 1778, was the great-grandson of John Somers, the founder of Somers Point, New Jersey, and

WHEREAS, Richard Somers first learned to sail as a boy on Great Egg Bay, later joining the United States Navy in 1798 as a Midshipman on the U.S.S. United States under the command of John Barry, the father of the U.S. Navy, and

WHEREAS, Upon being promoted to Lieutenant, Richard Somers was put in command of his own ship the U.S.S. Nautilus, and assigned to the Mediterranean fleet to fight the Barbary pirates in the First Barbary War, and

WHEREAS, Aboard the U.S.S. Nautilus, Richard Somers captured a pirate ship, which became a prize, the profits of which were shared among the crew, and

WHEREAS, With Lt. Stephen Decatur, Lt. James Decatur and under the Command of Captain Edward Preble, led numerous attacks against the enemy fleet at Tripoli Harbor, that resulted in hand-to-hand combat and inflicted heavy damage to the pirates, and

WHEREAS, While in command of the U.S.S. Intrepid, Richard Somers and his crew of 12 volunteers died a hero's death during a daring nighttime raid on the pirate fleet at Tripoli harbor in Libya on September 4,1804, and

WHEREAS, The remains of Richard Somers and his crew are buried in an unmarked grave at Green Square and in the Old Protestant Cemetery in Tripoli, Libya, and

WHEREAS, Richard Somers' contributions helped end the First Barbary War, and important campaign for his fledgling country, proving that the American forces had the cohesion to fight together and execute a war far from home, and

WHEREAS, Richard Somers and the men who fought in that war established the principles, style and traditions of action that are continued by the U.S. Navy and the U.S. military today, and

WHEREAS, Richard Somers has been memorialized by the United States Navy, with at least six U.S. naval warships bearing his name and a monument standing at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, and

WHEREAS, September 4, 2004 will mark the 200th anniversary of Richard Somers' death; now, therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:

1. September 4th of each year is designated Richard Somers Day in honor of the anniversary of the heroic death of New Jersey's native son.

2. The Governor shall annually issue a proclamation calling upon public officials, private organizations, and all citizens of the State to observe this day each year with appropriate educational events and activities.

3. This joint resolution shall take effect immediately.


This resolution declares September 4th of each year Richard Somers Day in the State of New Jersey. Richard Somers, a native of Somers Point, New Jersey, fought bravely against the Barbary pirates in the First Barbary War. September 4, 2004 will mark the 200th anniversary of his heroic death during a daring nighttime raid in Tripoli harbor, Libya.



HOUSE RESOLUTION No. 417 Session of 2009




Designating September 13, 2009, as "Commodore John Barry Day" in Pennsylvania.

WHEREAS, Commodore John Barry was born at Ballysampson in Tachumshin Parish, County Wexford, Ireland, in 1745 and immigrated to Philadelphia at 15 years of age, finding employment with a shipping firm where he prospered and became master of several merchant vessels; and
WHEREAS, Commodore Barry's first command came in 1766 aboard the schooner "Barbadoes" sailing out of Philadelphia, which he adopted as his home port; and
WHEREAS, At the outbreak of the American Revolutionary War, Commodore Barry, like many of his fellow Irish Americans who constituted nearly 40% of the continental forces, joined the battle for American independence; and
WHEREAS, Upon the outbreak of war, the Continental Congress commissioned Commodore Barry as Captain of the ship "Lexington," which on April 7, 1776, captured the British sloop "Edward," the first war prize taken by the Americans; and
WHEREAS, On December 24, 1776, with his fleet unable to reach open water, Commodore Barry left his ships behind to recruit a company of volunteers with whom he rushed to the aid of General George Washington on the banks of the Delaware River and participated in the American victories at Princeton and Trenton; and
WHEREAS, During the course of the American Revolutionary War, Commodore Barry boldly and skillfully engaged and captured many British vessels and was wounded in service to his country; and
WHEREAS, In 1781, the Catholic Citizens of France sent to the Americans the sum of $6 million, entrusting the safe transport of those vital funds as well as clothing and munitions to Commodore Barry aboard his ship "Resolute," which he successfully delivered, enabling General Washington to sustain his army through the critical showdown at Yorktown; and
WHEREAS, On March 10, 1783, Commodore Barry, commanding the "Alliance," won the last sea battle of the Revolution when, while escorting a shipment of vital funds, he engaged and avoided capture by the British ship "Sybille"; and
WHEREAS, Commodore Barry was instrumental in the effort to persuade the Pennsylvania General Assembly to ratify the Constitution of the United States, providing observers with a compelling example of persuasive lobbying; and
WHEREAS, After the American Revolutionary War and the dissolution of the Continental Navy, Commodore Barry reentered the maritime trade, helping to open commerce with China and the Orient; and
WHEREAS, Commodore Barry was socially active as a member of the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick, the Hibernian Fire Company, the Ancient Order of Hibernians and the Order of the Cincinnati, the military brotherhood of officers of the Continental Army, Navy and Marines; and
WHEREAS, Under President Washington's guidance, the Navy was revived as a permanent entity, and on February 22, 1797, President Washington conferred Commission Number One in the Navy upon John Barry, designating him Commanding Officer of the United States Navy with the rank of Commodore, the first in the United States Navy; and
WHEREAS, Commodore Barry is generally recognized as the Father of the United States Navy, a title bestowed upon him by his contemporaries; and
WHEREAS, Commodore Barry's last day of active duty came on March 6, 1801, and he remained head of the Navy until his death on September 13, 1803; and
WHEREAS, Commodore Barry was given a full military burial in Philadelphia's Old St. Mary's Churchyard; and
WHEREAS, The death of Commodore Barry was mourned by the entire nation, and monuments honoring him have subsequently been raised in Philadelphia, Washington, DC, New York, Boston and Wexford, Ireland; therefore be it

RESOLVED, That the House of Representatives recognize the significance of the legacy of Commodore John Barry and his monumental role in the American Revolutionary War that allowed this nation to be founded on the principles of freedom and opportunity for all people; and be it further

RESOLVED, That the House of Representatives designate September 13, 2009, as "Commodore John Barry Day" in Pennsylvania.

Proclamation 4853 - Commodore John Barry Day

August 20, 1981

By the President of the United States of America

A Proclamation

Commodore John Barry, hero of the American Revolution and holder of the first commission in the United States Navy under the Constitution, was born in 1745, in County Wexford, Ireland. Commodore Barry was commissioned to command the brig Lexington, one of the first ships bought and equipped for the Revolution, and became a national hero with the engagement and capture of the British warship Edward on April 7, 1776. He distinguished himself throughout the Revolution and again shortly thereafter in the Quasi-War with France as a fighter and seaman.

In 1797, with the advice and consent of the Senate, President Washington appointed Commodore Barry Captain in the Navy of the United States and Commander of the Frigate United States. In so doing, the President said that he placed "special Trust and Confidence in (Commodore Barry's) Patriotism, Valour, Fidelity, and Abilities".

Commodore Barry was honored by the United States Congress in 1906, when a statue was commissioned and later placed in Lafayette Park, Washington, District of Columbia, and honored again some fifty years later when President Eisenhower caused a statue of Commodore Barry to be presented on behalf of the people of the United States to the people of Ireland, at County Wexford, Ireland.

Now, Therefore, I, Ronald Reagan, President of the United States of America, do hereby designate September 13, 1981, as "Commodore John Barry Day", as a tribute to one of the earliest and greatest American Patriots, a man of great insight who perceived very early the need for American power on the sea. I call upon Federal, state, and local government agencies and the people of the United States to observe such day with appropriate ceremonies and activities.

In Witness Whereof, I have hereunto set my hand this twentieth day of August, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and eighty-one, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and sixth.


Proclamation 6328 -- Commodore John Barry Day, 1991

By the President of the United States of America

A Proclamation

During its War for Independence, our Nation faced a great and proven sea power. The young Continental Navy, which had been established by the Continental Congress in October 1775, was only a fraction of the size of the British fleet. Nevertheless, the small American naval force not only achieved several key victories during the War but also established a tradition of courageous service that continues to this day. On this occasion, we honor the memory of one of America's first and most distinguished naval leaders, Commodore John Barry.

After immigrating to the United States from Ireland, John Barry became a successful shipmaster in Philadelphia. He was also an enthusiastic supporter of American Independence, and when the Revolutionary War began, he readily volunteered for service. Thus, John Barry was commissioned as one of the first captains of the Continental Navy.

Captain Barry served bravely and with distinction throughout the course of the War. While commanding the brig LEXINGTON, he captured the British sloop EDWARD in April 1776. This victory marked the first capture in battle of a British vessel by a regularly commissioned American warship. Seven years later, Captain Barry participated in the last American naval victory of the War, leading the frigate ALLIANCE against H.M.S. SYBILLE in March 1783.

Captain Barry's record of service to our country is distinguished not only by its length but also by his extraordinary patriotism and daring. In late 1776, he led a raid by four small boats against British vessels on the Delaware River and seized a significant quantity of supplies that had been meant for the British Army. Serving as a volunteer artillery officer in December of that year, Captain Barry participated in General George Washington's celebrated campaign to cross the Delaware River, which led to victory at the Battle of Trenton.

Captain Barry continued to serve our country after the end of the Revolution, helping to make the American victory a meaningful and enduring one. Active in Pennsylvania politics, he became a strong supporter of the Constitution, which was ratified by the State Assembly on December 12, 1787. In June 1794, President George Washington appointed him as a commander of the new frigate U.S.S. UNITED STATES, one of six that were built as part of a permanent American naval armament. For the remaining years of his life, Commodore Barry helped to build and to lead the new United States Navy, commanding not only the U.S.S. UNITED STATES but also "Old Ironsides," the U.S.S. CONSTITUTION.

Commodore John Barry died on September 13, 1803, but his outstanding legacy of service is carried on today by all those brave and selfless Americans who wear the uniform of the United States Navy.

The Congress, by Public Law 102 - 92, has designated September 13, 1991, as "Commodore John Barry Day" and has authorized and requested the President to issue a proclamation in observance of this day.

Now, Therefore, I, George Bush, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim September 13, 1991, as Commodore John Barry Day. I invite all Americans to observe this day with appropriate ceremonies and activities in honor of those individuals, past and present, who have served in the United States Navy.

In Witness Whereof, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-sixth day of August, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and ninety-one, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and sixteenth.

George Bush

[Filed with the Office of the Federal Register, 12:15 p.m., August 28, 1991]
Note: The Office of the Press Secretary released this proclamation on August 27 and it was published in the Federal Register on August 30.

Proclamation 6589 - Commodore John Barry Day, 1993

September 13, 1993

By the President of the United States of America

A Proclamation

During its War for Independence, our Nation faced a great and proven sea power. The young Continental Navy, which had been established by the Continental Congress in October 1775, was only a fraction of the size of the British fleet. Nevertheless, the small American naval force not only achieved several key victories during the War but also established a tradition of courageous service that continues to this day. On this occasion, we honor the memory of one of America's first and most distinguished naval leaders, Commodore John Barry.

After immigrating to the United States from Ireland, John Barry became a successful shipmaster in Philadelphia. He was also an enthusiastic supporter of American independence, and when the Revolutionary War began, he readily volunteered for service and became one of the first captains of the Continental Navy.

Captain Barry served bravely and with distinction throughout the course of the War. While commanding the brig LEXINGTON, he captured the British sloop EDWARD in April 1776. This victory marked the first capture in battle of a British vessel by a regularly commissioned American warship. Later in 1776, he led a raid by four small boats against British vessels on the Delaware River and seized a significant quantity of supplies meant for the British Army. Seven years later, Captain Barry participated in the last American naval victory of the War, leading the frigate ALLIANCE against HMS SYBILLE in March 1783.

Serving as a volunteer artillery officer in December of that year, Captain Barry participated in General George Washington's celebrated campaign to cross the Delaware River, which led to victory at the Battle of Trenton.

Captain Barry continued to serve our country after the end of the Revolution, helping to make the American victory a meaningful and enduring one. Active in Pennsylvania politics, he became a strong supporter of the Constitution, which was ratified by the State Assembly on December 12, 1787. In June 1794, President George Washington appointed him as commander of the new frigate USS UNITED STATES, one of six that were built as part of a permanent American naval armament. For the remaining years of his life, Commodore Barry helped to build and lead the new United States Navy, commanding not only USS UNITED STATES but also "Old Ironsides," USS CONSTITUTION.

Commodore John Barry died on September 13, 1803, but his outstanding legacy of service is carried on today by all the brave and selfless Americans who wear the uniform of the United States Navy.

The Congress, by House joint Resolution 157, has designated September 13, 1993, as "Commodore John Barry Day" and has authorized and requested the President to issue a proclamation in observance of this day.

Now, Therefore, I, William J. Clinton, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim September 13, 1993, as Commodore John Barry Day. I invite all Americans to observe this day with appropriate ceremonies and activities in honor of those individuals, past and present, who have served in the United States Navy.

In Witness Whereof, I have hereunto set my hand this thirteenth day of September, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and ninety-three, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and eighteenth.

William J. Clinton

JFK & John Barry both Wexford Boys

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During President Kennedy’s historic visit to Ireland in June 1963, he remarked to the people of New Ross, Ireland:

“When my great grandfather left here to become a cooper in East Boston, he carried nothing with him except two things: a strong religious faith and a strong desire for liberty. I am glad to say that all of his great-grandchildren have valued that inheritance.”

On display in the Museum is the Fitzgerald family bible brought from Ireland by President Kennedy’s forebears. A clerk of the U.S. Supreme Court held the large bible as John Fitzgerald Kennedy took his oath of office as 35th President of the United States on January 20, 1961. The Bible is an 1850 Edition of the Douay English translation containing a handwritten chronicle of the Fitzgerald family from 1857 and including a record of the birth of John Fitzgerald Kennedy on May 29, 1917.

In the Museum’s Oval Office exhibit is a fragment of a pennant flown on the Raleigh, a ship commanded by John Barry, a founder of the U.S. Navy and former commander of the USS Constitution. Barry, who served during the Revolutionary War as one of the first captains of the Constitutional Navy, was born in County Wexford, Ireland, the ancestral home of President Kennedy.

President Kennedy displayed the pennant in the White House Oval Office, and during his visit to Wexford, Ireland on June 27, 1963, placed a wreath at the John Barry statue.

President Kennedy visits the John Barry Memorial, Wexford, Ireland, 27 June 1963
JFK at the John Barry Memorial, Wexford, Ireland
Date: June 27, 1963
Copyright: Public Domain
Credit: Photograph by Robert Knudsen, White House, in the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston.

KN-C29399 27

June 1963 President's Trip to Ireland. Wreath laying ceremony at Commodore John Barry Memorial. President Kennedy, Mayor of Wexford Thomas Burne, Minister of Extrenal Affairs of Ireland Frank Aiken, U. S. Ambassador to Ireland Matthew McCloskey, Naval Aide to the President Tazewell Shepard, others. Wexford, Ireland, Crescent Quay.

Photograph by Robert Knudsen, White House, in the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston.

"The Boys of Wexford" is a famous Irish ballad commemorating the Irish Rebellion of 1798. The ballad was lyrics were composed by Patrick Joseph McCall and music by Arthur Warren Darley, who also composed other wexford ballads "Boolavogue", "Kelly the Boy from Killanne".

The Boys of Wexford

We are the boys of Wexford,
Who fought with heart and hand
To burst in twain the galling chain
And free our native land.

In comes the captain's daughter,
The captain of the Yeos,
Saying "Brave United Irishmen,
We'll ne'er again be foes.
A thousand pounds I'll bring
If you will fly from home with me,
And dress myself in man's attire
And fight for liberty."

I want no gold, my maiden fair,
To fly from home with thee.
You shining eyes will be my prize,
More dear than gold to me.
I want no gold to nerve my arm
To do a true man's part -
To free my land I'd gladly give
The red drops of my heart."

And when we left our cabins, boys,
We left with right good will
To see our friends and neighbours
That were at Vinegar Hill!
A young man from our Irish ranks
A cannon he let go;
He slapt it into Lord Mountjoy
A tyrant he laid low!

We bravely fought and conquered
At Ross and Wexford town;
And if we failed to keep them,
'Twas drink that brought us down.
We had no drink beside us
On Tubberneering's day,
Depending on the long, bright pike,
And well it worked that way.

And Oulart's name shall be their shame,
Whose steel we ne'er did fear.
For every man could do his part
Like Forth and Shelmalier!
And if for want of leaders,
We lost at Vinegar Hill,
We're ready for another fight,
And love our country still!

1963: Warm welcome for JFK in Ireland

The US President John F Kennedy has received a rapturous welcome on an emotional visit to his ancestral homeland in County Wexford, Ireland.

On the second day of his four-day trip to Ireland, the president travelled by helicopter this morning to County Wexford.

Hundreds of well wishers cheered and waved flags on his arrival at Wexford town and a choir of 300 boys greeted him singing "The Boys of Wexford", a ballad about an insurrection in 1798.

The president left his bodyguards to join them in the second chorus, prompting one American photographer to burst into tears.

Once the singing was over, Mr Kennedy shook hands with as many schoolchildren as he could reach……

JFK's Fovorites -

Favorite Sports: Golf, Sailing, Swimming, Tennis

Favorite Songs:

"I believe that Hail to the Chief has a nice ring."
The Boys of Wexford
The Wearin' o' the Green
Londonderry Air
Kelly, the Boy from Killane
The Minstrel Boy
Beyond the Blue Horizon
When Irish Eyes are Smiling
Danny Boy
As a boy, John F. Kennedy enjoyed the Nutcracker Suit

In his speech to the Irish parlament JFK said:

…For knowing the meaning of foreign domination, Ireland is the example and inspiration to those enduring endless years of oppression. It was fitting and appropriate that this nation played a leading role in censuring the suppression of the Hungarian revolution, for how many times was Ireland’s quest for freedom suppressed only to have that quest renewed by the succeeding generation? Those who suffer beyond that wall I saw on Wednesday in Berlin must not despair of their future. Let them remember the constancy, the faith, the endurance, and the final success of the Irish. And let them remember, as I heard sung by your sons and daughters yesterday in Wexford, the words, "the boys of Wexford, who fought with heart and hand, to burst in twain the galling chain and free our native land."

John Barry Memorial - Gazing out to sea, opposite the tourist office in the Crescent, is the fine figure in bronze of Commodore John Barry - father of the American Navy. Born in Wexford, he went to sea as a boy and settled in the United States. During the American War of Independence he became a naval hero and was made Commander-in-chief of the Navy in 1797. He is buried in St. Mary's Churchyard in Pennsylvania, U.S.A. The statue was presented to Ireland by the U.S. government to honour the outstanding contribution made by John Barry to the naval annals of his adopted country.

276 - Remarks at Redmond Place in Wexford
June 27, 1963

Mr. Mayor, Chairman of the Council, Mr. Minister, my friends:

I want to express my pleasure at being back from whence I came. There is an impression in Washington that there are no Kennedys left in Ireland, that they are all in Washington, so I wonder if there are any Kennedys in this audience. Could you hold up your hand so I can see?

Well, I am glad to see a few cousins who didn't catch the boat.

And I am glad to take part in this ceremony this morning for John Barry. I have had in my office since I was President the flag that he flew and the sword that he wore. It is no coincidence that John Barry and a good many of his successors played such a leading part in the American struggle, not only for independence, but for its maintenance.

About 2 months ago I visited the Battle of Gettysburg, the bloodiest battlefield in the American Civil War, and one of the monuments to the dead was to the Irish Brigade. In Fredericksburg, which was another slaughter, the Irish Brigade was nearly wiped out. They went into battle wearing a sprig of green in their hats and it was said of them what was said about Irishmen in other countries: "War battered dogs are we, gnawing a naked bone, fighting in every land and clime, for every cause but our own."

It seems to me that in these dangerous days when the struggle for freedom is worldwide against an armed doctrine, that Ireland and its experience has one special significance, and that is that the people's fight, which John Boyle O'Reilly said outlived a thousand years, that it was possible for a people over hundreds of years of foreign domination and religious persecution--it was possible for that people to maintain their national identity and their strong faith. And therefore those who may feel that in these difficult times, who may believe that freedom may be on the run, or that some nations may be permanently subjugated and eventually wiped out, would do well to remember Ireland.

And I am proud to come here for another reason, because it makes me even prouder of my own country. My country welcomed so many sons and daughters of so many countries, Irish and Scandinavian, Germans, Italian, and all the rest, and gave them a fair chance and a fair opportunity. The Speaker of the House of Representatives is of Irish descent. The leader of the Senate is of Irish descent. And what is true of the Irish has been true of dozens of other people. In Ireland I think you see something of what is so great about the United States; and I must say that in the United States, through millions of your sons and daughters and cousins-25 million, in fact--you see something of what is great about Ireland.

So I am proud to be here. I am proud to have connected on that beautiful golden box the coat of arms of Wexford, the coat of arms of the kingly and beautiful Kennedys, and the coat of arms of the United States. That is a very good combination.

Thank you.

Note: The President spoke at 1:40 p.m. His opening words referred to Thomas F. Burne, Mayor o Wexfordf; James I. Bowe, Chairman of the County Council; and Frank Aiken, Minister of External Affairs.

After leaving New Ross that morning the President and his party drove to Dunganstown to visit the farm where Patrick Kennedy had spent his early years. Hostess for the occasion was Mrs. Mary Kennedy Ryan, third cousin to the President, who had assembled about 25 relatives and the Parish Priest for a family reunion. The President was shown the house and was served light refreshments in the farmyard. He gave no speech but proposed a simple toast "to the Kennedys who went away and to the Kennedys who stayed behind."

The President then flew to Wexford where he laid a wreath at the Barry Memorial -- a 1956 gift from the U.S. Government to the people of Ireland. He then proceeded to Redmond Place where he spoke and was given the freedom of Wexford.

In addition, JFK bought land near Middleburg, Virginia, where he had a house built that he called Wexford.

[Bill Kelly Notes: For those interested in solving some of history's mysteries, research could be done into how, exactly, John F. Kennedy came into possession of John Barry's sword, as he kept it in the Oval Office at the White House and it is now part of the Kennedy collection at the JFK Presidential Library. Can the provenance of the sword be established? Was it given to JFK as a gift? Did he buy it at a garage sale? Or what?]

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Tripoli Graves Discovered & Rediscovered

The American Legion Magazine - May 1977 Vol. 102 - #5

Notes On Our Desk

MEMORIAL DAY brings to mind visions of immaculate national cemeteries at home and military cemeteries abroad where so many thousands of Americans rest in peace, but author Melba Edmunds reminds us of a tiny corner of America that is marked and preserved in far-off Libya, on the shores of Tripoli.

This is how she found it:

Already the glare of the morning sun had beaten the waves into submission. From the modern asphalt highway, weathered stone steps made their way toward the sea. On one side was the whitewashed wall of the British Rod and Gun Club, on the other a well repaired stone wall. The steps turned abruptly and clung to the cliff. The rocks below were green from the dampness of the Mediterranean.

The stone steps stopped at a small opening in the wall. Inside, the vaulted doorway framed a picturesque landscape. A tanker rode on the blue purple sea. White birds floated in and out of view.

The Arab who approached could have been a traveler on the road to Emmaus, or he could have watched the Turkish Pasha on the palace ramparts. The unbleached wool he wore served as protection from the cold at night and the heat of the sun by day. His skin had lost the dark swarthy color of his youth. It made a fragle pale frame for his still intense dark eyes.

"Kiel halek," he said in greeting. He held out his hand for a coin. Then, leaning on his cane he withdrew to sit silently in the shade.

The walls enclosed an area not larger than half a city block. On top of the stone floor were positioned burial crypts about the size of a coffin. Markers noted the deceased. Most were members of embassy families who had served in Tripoli during the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. Babies, children and young mothers seemed to dominate the tiny Christian cemetery. One marker mourned a young man who had lived without enemies, but had been killed by assassins.

In the northwest corner of the room-like cemetery a gnarled olive tree spread its limbs over five stone coffins. On each crypt a bronze marker has been placed:

"Here lies an American sailor who
gave his life in the explosion of the
U.S. ship Intrepid, who lost their
lives in the battle against the Bar-
bary Coast pirates Sept. 4, 1804.
"The honor we accord them for
their heroism is no less because
their names are unknown.
" - errected by The Wheelus Air
Force Wives Club."

The waves could be heard splash-
ing gently against the rocks below.
Americans have left Wheelus Air
Force Base. The old Arab seemed to
have faded into the colorless wall.
The sun shortened the shadows and
increased the heat. But the five
young American sailors continued
their long sleep under the ancient
olive tree.

[Bill Kelly Notes: There are a few mistakes in this article, though it is the most comprehensive report since that of James F. Cooper of a century before. It is Richard, not William Somers, who commanded the Intrepid into Tripoli harbor on its last mission, and the mystery of the five Intrepid graves at Old Protestant Cemetery has been resolved. While this account falsely reports that the five men buried together in the cemetery washed ashore nearby and were buried on site, it is now known that all thirteen men were buried together in a grave 720 feet from the old castle fort. In the 1930s, the Italian occupation army, while building a road, uncovered the remains of five of the men, and they were reburied at Old Protestant Cemetery. The others remain at the original grave site. More on this to come.]




The bodies of five American Naval heroes of th Barbary Wars which have been lying unmarked, untouched, and unclaimed for nearly a century and a half have been discovered in Tripoli, North Africa.

The five were among thirteen officers and men who were killed in the explosion of the ketch U.S.S. Intrepid September 4, 1804. The graves were found by an American consul in Tripoli with the help of an Arab harbor-master after a painstaking search which was begun by the State Department in 1938.

The overwhelming bulk of circumstantial evidence collected through hundreds of interviews of descendants of inhabitants of the town in 1804, and from other sources points to the fact that the bodies were five of possibly six which were mentioned as having washed ashore after the explosion close to the site where they were rediscovered.

The five bodies were reinterred in the spot where they were discovered, a high-walled cemetery on the outskirts of Tripoli overlooking the harbor. U.S.S. Sp;okane (CL 120), one of the fleet's newest cruisers, was dispatched from the Mediterranean to Tripoli where her officers and men paid their final respects to these heroes of yesterday's Navy where they were lowered into the ground for the last time, their graves now plainly marked.

The location of the five bodies after all these years recalls to mind one of the most dramatic and heroic chapters of American naval history. The thirteen officers and men - which five of the thirteen these are is not known - had bravely met their death on a mission which was a calculated risk and which, had it been successful, would have ct half the Tripolitan fleet into splinters. The Tripolitan fleet had been anchored close together along the seawall. The Bashaw's castle stood....The Intrepid and her crew of thirteen volunteers was to be sent into the harbor as a "fireship" to be set off amongst the enemy ships. Had the dangerous plan worked, many of the enemy ships would undoubtedly have been sent to the bottom and even the heavily fortified castle might have been seriously damaged.

The scheme was a perilous mission in the finest tradition of the U.S. Navy. Commodore Edward Preble, who at the time was in command of the American squadron in the Mediterranean, knew the risk as did the gallant men who took part in the venture.

In addition, there was at least one other man who knew, a man who at the time was in Tripoli, a prisoner of the enemy in the Bashaw's castle. He was Commodore William Bainbridge who conceived the plan and smuggled his idea to Preble on the outside.

Bainbridge and his officers and men had been captured by the Tripolitan pirates after his ship, the frigate U.S.S. Philadelphia, had run aground on some unchartered rocks while chasing a smaller enemy ship some months before. The Philadelphia had been captured intact by the enemy and Bainbridge and his crew had fallen into the hands of the Tripolitans. They were henceforth thrown into prison, from where, incidently, they had an excellent view of the harbor.

Once in prison, Bainbridge had been able to get the confidence of Nicholas Nissen, the Danish consul in Tripoli. Through Nissen, Bainbrige was able to smuggle secret letters out of prison, letters which carried an innocuous message in regular ink and another secret message written between the lines in lime juice which was invisible to the naked eye. When a match was run under the paper by Preble, the message immediately showed up.

It was through Nissen that Bainbrige had been able to get a message to Preble suggesting the plan of sending a fireship into the harbor laden with high explosives, there to be exploded among the enemy shipping. According to the plan, the volunteer crew which was to man the fireship should escape out of the harbor in small boats after applying the match to the train.

Preble had tried this type of hit and run tactic before, and it had paid off handsomely in that case. That had been several months previously when another volunteer crew had sneaked into the harbor in a ketch and burned the Philadelphia, rendering her useless to the Tripolitans.

Many of the officers and men who lost their lives when the Intrepid exploded had been among the crew of volunteers who had entered the harbor that night to board and burn the Philadelphia. In a fierce battle, they had climbed over the rails of the ship, killed most of her enemy crew and burned her to the waterline. The leader of that earlier encounter was another early American Naval hero, Stephen Decatur.

Now, Preble decided to try once more, tactics similar to some used by the British and American commandos and raiders in World War II. he put Bainbridge's idea into action.

He chose the ketch Intrepid for the mission. The Intrepid had been captured originally from the Tripolitans in a running engagement in the open sea and had been converted to an American man-of-war. Perhaps Preble thought that by using a ship whose lines would be familiar to the Tripolitans and by sending her into the harbor on a black night as a friendly merchantman, he could disguise the true purpose of the fireship. In any event, he chose the Intrepid and ordered her to be fitted out as a floating incendiary bomb.

A special compartment was built into the hold of the ketch just forward of her mainmast. one hundred barrels (approximately 15,000 pounds of powder in bulk) were placed in the hold. On top of this lethal load, 100 thirteen-inch and nine-inch shells were stacked, loaded and fused,....for action.

A tube was run from the powder another compartment alft in

Inside the tube was laid a train cal...burn for fifteen minutes - time for all volunteer crew to escape from the doomed....
The compartment aft was filed with combustibles which were to be set afire...setting the fire in the after compartment...keep any boarders off the ship until it was too late.

Lieutenant William Somers (Sic) captain...brig U.S.S.Nautilus, was chose, to guide this fireship or "inferno" as it was then called, into the harbor...had acquitted himself well in a battle...enemy gunboats only a few week previous. WHen they heard that Somers was ....the mission, the entire crew of the Nautilus asked to accompany their captain.

Somers however, chose only four from his own crew. they were Thomas,..James Harris, William Keith and...Simms, all seamen. From the U.S.S. Constitution he chose William Harrison,...Clark, Hugh McCormick, Jacob Will....Peter Penner and Isaac Downes, all seamen.

Originally, one other officer besides Somers was to undertake the mission. He was Lieutenant Henry Wadsworth of the Constitution. At the last minute, however, Midshipman Joseph Israel of the Constilation came aboard the Intrepid with a message from Commodore Preble. He pleaded with Somers to take him along, and Somers finally obtained the consent of the Commodore to allow Israel to join the band as the thirteenth member.

Somers impressed upon his crew the seriousness and heavy risk of the venture and gave to each and every man the chance to stay behind if he wished. But each of the ten seamen voiced his determination to go and left their respective ships Nautilus and Constitution with a joke on their lips.

"Mind boys," one said according to the diary of a shipmate, "give a good account of us when you get home!"

All was now in readiness. A light breeze came up on the evening of September 4 and Somers and Preble decided that now was the time to go. At 2000 the Intrepid weighed anchor and got underway. Two of the fastest rowing boats in the squadron accompanied her to take the crew after they had guided the ship into the harbor and had lighted the combustibles.

The ketch was convoyed to the harbor entrance by the brig U.S.S. Argus, U.S.S. Vixen and the Nautilus. These vessels then turned back but remained near at hand to watch the result and to pick up the rowing boats upon their return.

Everything seemed favorable for the success of the mission except that three Tripolitan gunboats were seen hovering about the harbor entrance. But the enemy ships disappeared, and the Intrepid approached in the manner of a friendly merchantman bound for an anchorage in the harbor.

It was a dark night, according to the eyewitnesses, and the Intrepid was soon lost to sight to most of those who stood watching on the decks of the American ships outside the harbor. The fireship entered the harbor and drifted slowly toward the anchored ships war of the Bashaw's fleet. Several minutes elapsed with no more noise than the lap of the waves.

Suddenly, the sound of guns firing could be heard by the men watching from the ships outside. Almost instantly a jarring explosion reverberated through the harbor and the town and a great blaze of light outlined the Intrepid and the other ships in the harbor.

Lieutenant Charles C. Ridgely was intently watching the spectacle with night glasses from his vantage point on the deck of the Nautilus. Here is his description of the explosion:

"For a moment, the flash illuminated the whole heavens around, while the terrific concussion shook everything far and near. Then all was hushed again and every object ...veiled in a darkness of double gloom. On board the Nautilus, the silence of death seemed to pervade the whole crew; but, quickly the din of kettle drums, beating to...., with the noise of confusion and alarm....heard from the inhabitants on shore. To ...the escape of the boats, an order show a light, upon the appearance of which, hundreds of shot, from an...number of guns, of heavy calibre, from the batteries near, came rattling over and around us. But we heeded them not; one thought and one feeling alone had possession of our souls - the preservation of Somers and his crew.

"As moment after moment passed by without bringing with it the preconcerted signal from the boat, the anxiety on board became intense; and the men with lighted lanterns hang themselves over the sides of the vessel until their heads almost touched the water - a position in which an object on the surface of the water can be seen furthers on a dark night - with the hope of discovering something which could give us an assurance of its (the boat's) safety. Still no boat came, and no signal was given; and the unwelcome conclusion was at last forced upon us....We lingered on the spot until broad daylight - thought we lingered in vain - in the hope that someone at least of the number might yet be rescued by us from a floating plank or spar to tell the tale of his companions' fate."

That the explosion of the Intrepid, described in this vivid passage from Lieutenant Ridgely's notebook, was premature is certain. There was no blaze of combustibles preceding the explosion. It was also evident to those waiting outside the harbor that there had not been enough time to have allowed the ketch to have reached her target and exploded on schedule.

The exact manner of the explosion, however, remains a mystery and will probably never be ascertained for certain. The sound of the firing is said to have come from the enemy shore guns. The most widely accepted theory is that one of these shots from the shore batteries passed through the magazine of the fireship, igniting the concentration of powder and shells and detonating them. Another opinion holds that the Tripolitans sighted the American ship, boarded her, and that Somers and his crew set fire to the train and blew their ship up rather than let it fall into the hands of the enemy.

Bainbridge records that all thirteen of the bodies were recovered following the explosion, but he gives an account which varies somewhat from the bodies that were recently found. Bainbridge, incidently, had appealed to the Bashaw to allow him to view the bodies as soon as he realized that the explosion he heard had been that of the Intrepid. The Bashaw reluctantly granted permission for Bainbridge and two of his lieutenants to see the bodies after they had been washed up on shore.

Bainbridge states in his diary that two of teh bodies were found in the bottom of the ketch itself, which grounded on the rocks at the north side of the western entrance to the harbor. Another body was found in one of the two boats that had accompanied the Intrepid and had later drifted ashore to the westward entrance to the harbor. Another body was found in one of the two boats that accompanied the Intrepid and had later drifted ashore to the westward.

Four others were recovered floating near the harbor and the six remaining bodies were found on the beach to the southeast of the town. This would place the later group near the site of the present high-walled cemetery where they were found.

What has become of the sixth body or whether Bainbrige actually saw six and not five bodies lying on the beach is hard to say. The account he gives is sketchy and he mentions the number but once.

He notes down that all the bodies were so mutilated that it was impossible to identify them. He adds that the six were taken to the top of the bluff overlooking the beach where they were found and were provided with graves that "they were laid to rest with all small honors that could be given them," including a funeral service which Bainbridge himself read over their graves.

These facts, except for the exact number of the bodies, which were set down by Bainbridge nearly a century and a half ago, have been borne out as a result of the exhaustive investigation initiated by the Arab harbor master of Tripoli, Mustafa Burchis, and the American counsul in that city, Mr. Orray Taft, Jr.

The investigation actually got its start in 1938 when, in response to an inquiry from the American embassy in Rome concerning the fate of the men of the Intrepid, Mr. burchis undertook a meticulious examination of old Jewish records, private Arab collections of letters, papers, and diaries, and interviewed innumerable descendants of residents of Tripoli at the time of the disaster.

The harbormaster set down in detail the results of his investigation and ....complete report on the matter which ...then transmitted to the Rome. Unfortunately, was among American state papers which were burned by embassy officials in 1941 upon the outbreak of the war. The investigation was revived last year when Mr. Burchis retraced his findings from his original notes. Together with Mr. Taft, he was able once more to piece together the story of the five graves.

"The Intrepid had exploded in a place located about half way down the length of the present north breakwater and all of the pertinent stories he [Mr. Burchis] has hadto day that fivge bodies had drifted up on the beach in front of a cliff," Counsel Taft a report to the State Department concerning his research. "From this beach they were unceremoniously dragged to the cliff and were interred in a rough pattern. I questioned Mr. Burchis at length as to his belief in the reliability of his information and could find no flaw in his pattern of investigation," Mr. Taft adds.

Mr. Taft and Mr. Burchis, together with the American vice counsel, went to the cemetery, named the old Protestant Cemetery, on the outskirts of the town and directly above the cliff where Mr. Burchis said the bodies had been dragged. Mr. Burchis then without hesitation picked out five graves located in the northeast corner.

Subsequent to the burial of the bodies in 1804, Mr. Burchis explained, it became necesssary to establish the old Protestant Cemetery for the burial of foreigners. Since five Americans were already known to be interred there, a wall was erected around the plot and the whole cemetery was dedicated in the ceremony which was attended by the then present diplomatic and consular officials, including those of the United States.

Upon this identification of the five bodies as being those of five men from the Intrepid, Mr. Taft sent a telegram to Vice Admircal Forrest P. Sherman, USN, commanding the U.S. Mediteranean Fleet, stating that he had substantial evidence that the graves of five American sailors lost on the Intrepid in 1804 had been discovered. Admiral Sherman immediately arranged for a visit to Tripoli of Rear Admiral R. H. Cruzen, Commander, Cruiser Division Two, and the Spokane.

The five unknown sailors who had died so valiantly fighting for their country were given final honors in a colorful ceremony attended by many high diplomatic, military, and government officials. A band of Scottish Camerons played martial music as the detachment from the Spokane as well as a unit of the British Army stationed at Tripoli marched the half a mile from the town to the grave site.

In short addresses, Rear Admiral Cruzen spoke on the early history of the Navy and of its exploits during the Barbary Wars. Captain W. J. Marshall, USN, commanding officer of the Spokane, narrated the Intrepid mission, and Consul Taft told of the research done to identify the graves and unveiled the memorial plaque to the five heroes. Lieutenant E. J. Sheridan, USN, chaplin of the Spokane, read a short prayer, and an honor guard of Marines fired several volleys over the new graves and played taps.

Interestingly enough, Joseph Karamanli, the present mayor of Tripoli and a direct descendant of the Joseph Karamanli who was Bashaw of Tripoli at the time of the Barbary Wars, attended the ceremony with approximately 50 other guests.

The plaque honoring the five men was placed in the cemetery on the cliff by the officers and men of the Spokane. The money for the markers was collected through voluntary contributions. Individual plaques, which will be replaced at a later date by permanent markers, were placed near each grave.

On each of these individual plaques is written: "Here Lies An Unknown American Sailor Lost From USS Intrepid in Tripoli Harbor 1804." - a worthy tribute to the courageous sailors of the Navy of yesterday from the sailors of the Navy of today.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Richard Somers & Somerville, Mass.

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Caption: In the summer of 1804, Somers commanded a division of gunboats during five attacks on Tripoli.

Another take on where Somerville’s name originated.

April 25, 2009
Somerville News, Massachusetts)

Melissa Woods

A report commissioned by the Somerville Historical Society has declared Somerville to have a “purely fanciful name,” not of any particular origin. Somerville fire inspector Bob Doherty has ideas of his own, however and even better, they have to do with pirates.

The Blessing of the Bay, the first seaworthy ship built in Massachusetts, was armed in response to piracy and became essentially, the first Coast Guard. Aggressive action needed to be taken against the Barbary pirates, however, if American ships were to sail in safety. This is where a young Naval officer named Richar Somers enteres the picture.

“Pirating in Somerville goes way back,” muses Doherty. After the Revolutionary War, American trading ships could no longer fly under the British flag, nor claim backing by the impressive British navy. The Barbary pirates, just off the coast of Tripoli (in present-day Libya), then became a threat.

Born in Somer’s Point at Great Egg Harbor, New Jersey, Richard Somers was one of the first Naval Lieutenants in the then-new American Navy. Together with his two childhood friends Stephen Decatur and Charles Stewart, they fought together “like the three musketeers,” says Doherty, against the Barbary pirates in the summer of 1804. Their exploits at Tripoli are famously sung in the first line of the Marine’s Hymn: “from the halls of Montezuma to the shores of Tripoli.”

These three friends protected the U.S.S. Constitution in equal parts, commanding six small gunships apiece around the heavy frigate as if it were “a modern aircraft carrier.” Somers’ performance as Captain of the schooner Nautilus after he arrived in the Mediterranean earned him promotion to master commandant on May 18, 1804. He afterward sailed alongside Commodore Edward Preble – then of the Constitution – to Tangier, and then in five attacks on Tripoli, once fighting five Tripolian vessels at once at close quarters.

“Millions for defense, but not once cent for tribute,” said Thomas Jefferson when he entered office, in reference to the pirate threat. As that summer of successful campaigns drew to a close, Somers realized that the Americans had a chance to squelch the pirates once and for all. Calling for volunteers, Somers spearheaded a plan to load the first ship the Intrepid up with about 15,000 lbs of gunpowder and 200 loaded shells, and sail it into the pirates’ midst under the cover of night. The ship was to be set off by remote detonation, but because this was so risky a venture, Somers insisted that none of his volunteers be family men. This proved a wise decision. The Intrepid sailed, as planned, into Tripoli harbor, but was discovered before Somers and his men had time to escape. The ship was detonated as was, killing all aboard, including Somers himself.

“A fanciful name,” exclaims Doherty,” Not on your life!” Richard Somers was a nationally-known Naval hero whom has spent time on the United States, the Boston, and had spent the last day of his life on the Constitution, out of Charlestown harbor. Six ships in the U.S. navy have been named the U.S.S. Somers, since. Somerville, New Jersey, is known to be named after Somers, as well as Somers, New York and his birthplace, Somers Point, but there is no hard proof that Somerville, Massachusetts is the same case.

It is unlikely, however, that an area so dense with history as Greater Boston should have names of no historical importance in its midst. Bob Doherty, with his argument for Richard Somers, provides a defiant yet plausible alternate explanation in the face of what the history books say.

Bill Kelly Notes: Somers Point, New Jersey is named after the founding father John Somers, grandfather of Richard Somers, Jr., who died at Tripoli.

And the graphic is apparently one of the many paintings portraying Reuban James, or is Daniel Fraser, stepping in to take the blow of the pirate sword aimed at the head of Stephen Decatur in August, 1804. The painting, and others like it, attempt to depict the swashbuckling, hand-to-hand combat that these men fought.

Both James and Fraser were wounded in the battle, and both are given credit for saving Decatur while he was avenging the life of his own brother, slain earlier in the same battle. US Navy ships have been named after both Fraser and James, with the Reuban James being the first US Navy ship sunk by a German U boat during World War II, and the subject of a popular Woody Gunthrie song.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Satelite View Tripoli Harbor

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The yellow dot at the center is the approximate location of the Old Protestant Cemetery, which when viewed closer, and zoomed in on from the air, is seen as a perfect square, near the triangular harbor pier.

The yellow dot on the left is the approximate location of the original grave site, 720 feet east of the old castle fort in what is now known as Green Square.

Cemetery and Tripoli Harbor


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Inside the cemetery at Tripoli


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Tripoli Cemetery Grave Marker


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Qadaffi at the UN

I was going to go up to the City, that's New York City today, and visit the Intrepid museum, have lunch at Elaine's or P.J. Clarke's with my new most eccentric friend of all time - Jones Harris, and maybe get some photos of demonstrators with a throwaway camera, but then I decided it wasn't worth the trouble.

Even those who were there wished they weren't, and I got periodic phone reports from Jonesy, who went into a tirade when he heard reports of what Qadaffi said in his speech, and called, asking for a verbatum transcript of what he really said off the internet, but alas, here it is twelve hours later and there are still no on line transcripts of the Qadaffi speech as far as I can tell.

But from what I can tell he did say some nice things about O'Bama, blamed the Isralies for killing JFK and called for a new investigation of the MLK assassination.

The Families of the Victims of Lockerbie were there protesting, but if you read the Bloomsberg story of Quadaffi's meeting with the American black Muslems, you would of thought everybody loves him and there were no protests at all.

The situation with the Royal Tent has yet to be resolved, at least as to what actaully happened, as apparently Donald Trump had a change of mind and gave Qadaffi the boot after his tent was pitched, just when I began to have visions of Qadaffi Junior visting Atlantic City and the Trump Tripoli casino....

But in the end, nobody seems to any more the wiser about the plight of Richard Somers and the men of the Intrepid, who lay buried in an unmarked, desecrated grave under the Martyer's Green Square in Tripoli, and no one has yet spoken up for them.

Today Qadaffi spoke for over an hour and a half, right after O'Bama's thirty-eight minute talk, and their paths will cross tomorrow at the Security Council Meeting where O'Bama will sit at the same table with Qadaffi, separated only by the Irish delegate.

Maybe the Irish delegate will recommend that after the meeting they all go over to P.J. Clarke's for a beer and talk things over.

Here's the CSM report, the best I've seen so far.


Qaddafi UN speech: Six highlights - or lowlights?
By Mark Sappenfield and Tracey D. Samuelson

Libyan President Muammar Qaddafi’s rambling, 1-1/2 hour speech to the United Nations is proof that the man desperately needs a Twitter account.

Speaking directly after President Obama, President Qaddafi far exceeded his allotted 15 minutes and in the process seemed to be on a personal mission to wrest the crown of World’s Foremost Fount of Political Inanity from front-runners Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Venezuelan President Hugo Ch├ívez.

In a speech cobbled together from pages of hand-written notes, he fulminated on topics as diverse as JFK’s assassination and swine flu. One blogger has already christened the speech the lowest point in the history of the United Nations.

Here are the high points:

1. ‘Our son’ Obama

Qaddafi extended his congratulations to “our son Obama” on the occasion of his first speech at UN.

“Obama is a glimpse in the darkness after four or eight years,” Qaddafi said. “We are content and happy if Obama can stay forever as president of the United States.”

2. UN Security Council Terror Council

“We are not committed to obeying or adhering to resolutions by the Security Council in its composition right now,” Qaddafi said. “It should not be called the Security Council, it should be called the ‘terror council.’ ”

3. Swine Flu: The capitalists made it

“The swine virus may have gotten out in the open after escaping from a laboratory. It may have been put together in a lab by the military…. We do sometimes make viruses in a laboratory and then they make viruses for capitalist companies who will make vaccinations and make money.”

4. Iraq war the ‘mother of all evils’

“Sixty-five aggressive wars took place without any collective action by the United Nations to prevent them,” Qaddafi said. He noted the Iraq war, in particular, as being “the mother of all evils.”

5. JFK killed because he wanted to investigate Israelis

“Why did this Israeli kill the killer of Jack Kennedy?” Qaddafi asked, after noting that Jack Ruby, “an Israeli,” killed Kennedy’s assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald. “The whole world should know that Kennedy wanted to investigate the nuclear reactor of the Israeli demon,” Qaddafi said.

Qaddafi also called for a reinvestigation into the assassination of the Martin Luther King Jr. “His killing was a plot, and we should know why he was killed and who killed him,” Qaddafi said.

6. UN should relocate to Libya

“You will thank me for not having to travel for 20 hours to this place.”

The White House on Qaddafi

“I think it was Qaddafi being Qaddafi,” Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said, as though Qaddafi was now a wide receiver for the Buffalo Bills.

In response to Qaddafi’s suggestion that Obama should rule the US forever, Gibbs deadpanned: “Leaving aside the amendments to the Constitution that the president agrees with wholeheartedly, it would be an interesting concept to continue being president beyond one’s natural-born life.”


Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Al Megrahi & Richard Somers The Famous & Forgotten

Al Megrahi & Richard Somers
The Famous & Forgotten

By William Kelly

Al Megahri and Richard Somers, though separated by two centuries in time, crossed paths briefly at Green Square, Tripoli, where Al Megahri was honored on the 40th anniversary of the Ghaddafi coup and where Somers lies buried with his men in an unmarked, desecrated grave.

Famously convicted in the bombing of Pan Am 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, Abdelbaset ali Mohmed al Megrahi is now world renown for having received a hero’s homecoming at Tripoli after being released by a Scottish judge on humanitarian grounds.

Richard Somers, the forgotten American naval hero, led a special mission against the Barbary pirates that ended in the explosion of the USS Intrepid in Tripoli Harbor on September 4, 1804, an event that still resonates today.

The body of Somers and his men were recovered and buried near the old Red Castle, where they remain to this day, despite the efforts of the Somers’ family, the citizens of Somers Point, New Jersey, and the veterans who have sought the repatriation of the remains of the men of the USS Intrepid.

According to Col. Mommar Gaddafi’s son Saif, Al Megrahi’s name was mentioned during every meeting held between Libya and Great Britain over trade, oil and arms, while the repatriation of Somers and the men of the Intrepid has yet to be officially mentioned. This is the case even though then Secretary of State Condi Rice met with Gaddafi 204 years to the day the men of the Intrepid washed ashore and Sen. John McCain led a Senate delegation to Tripoli to discuss oil, trade and arms deals, but made no mention of repatriation of the remains of the Navy heroes.

A number of other Republican senators were with McCain's delegation, but none of them publicly mentioned the missing MIAs or broached the subject with the Libyans, probably because they were unaware of them.

Two presidential proclomations and a State of Pennsylvania resolution honoring John Barry, and one New Jersey State resolution honoring Richard Somers requires that their stories be taught in public schools, and similar resolutions have been introduced requiring the teaching of the Holocaust and 9/11, but it futile to force school children to learn certain aspects of American history when our representatives, diplomatic and military leaders are ignorant of it.

It isn't the school children who should be taught about Richard Somers and the Barbary Pirates, it is our own diplomats and military men like McCain, a Navy man who should have put his priorities straight and asked about the remains of the men of the Intrepid and the Navy flyer missing since Operation El Dorado Canyon. Instead they ship McCain out to view some old Roman ruins, distracting him from the real unfinished duties at hand, of which he is totally oblivious.

It is also the fault of the US Embassy personnel at Tripoli, who have learned about the Old Protestant Cemetery site, secured and maintained it, but have failed to secure the original grave site or brief visiting dignataries of the American graves.

Secretary of State Condi Rice visited on September 5, 2008, two hundred and four years to the day the bodies of the men of the Intrepid washed ashore, yet she was blissfully unaware of the signifiance of the anniversary of the occasion, and use it as a non-partisan, unpolitical issue that they can get immediate results on.

It seems that every American visitor new to Tripoli finds the old cemetery site and thinks that is a long lost and forgotten treasure, an incredible story that must be retold. And it is an incredible story, but one that not should have to be rediscovered by every American visitor new to Tripoli.

The Officer's Wives from Wheeler Air Force Base did their duty and maintained the Old Protestant Cemetery for as long as they were there, and then it fell into disrepair and was forgotten until two American women from New Jersey stumbled upon it and wrote about the cemetery site in a Veterans magazine.

That stimulated a renewed effort to obtain the return of the remains of the Americans in Tripoli, but since we were engaged in combat with Libya at the time(See: Operation El Dorado Canyon), Rep. William Hughes did what he could, and got a Congressional Resolution reserving space at Arlington National Cemetery for the reinterment of the remains of the men of the Intrepid.

More recently, the first American government report on US relations with Libya mention the Return Richard Somers Committee of the Somers Point (NJ) Historical Society, and the efforts to repatriate these remains. The first State Department employees in Tripoli went to the cemetery and sent back reports and photos.

But when the first US Military attache arrived in Tripoli, he had to be told about the cemetery site by a cab driver.

One year ago, shortly before US Ambassador Gene Cretz arrived at his post, I sent him and email updating the situation, and received a response from a newly arrived charge d'affairs, who had met with the Director of Antiquities at the official museum at the old Red Castle fort. This officer promised to mention the original grave site to the Director, and ask about the 2004 excavation of the original grave site when they discovered "buttons and bones."

But now, a year later, that Charge d'affairs has been rotated out of Tripoli and is now back in Washington at another desk, and the new military attache discovers the cemetery grave site, talks with the Director of Antiquities about the restoration of the cemetery site, and two other nearby historic sites - the wreckage of the USS Philadelphia and USS Intrepid.

But he has no knowledge of the original grave site, and in a feature article in the Cleveland Plain Dealer, is quoted as saying the original grave site "is lost to history." (See; CPD story).

It seems every time a new military attache or Charge d' affairs arrives in Tripoli, they have to learn about the Old Protestant Cemetery from cab drivers, things they should know from the reports of their predessors.

I know of at least two such official reports, one from a women colonel from the Pentagon POW/MP office, who visited Tripoli, and whose report, I understand, only mentions the cemetery site, and recommends that it remain as is, and not repatriated. These graves would then come under the jurisdiction of the US foreign graves section of the DOD, but the remains would still be subjected to DNA testing to determine if they are the remains of any of the officers of the Intrepid (Somers, Wadsworth, Israel), whose DNA can be identified.

The other document is a Congressional Research Service (CRS) report prepared for a Michigan Congessman who has had an interest in this issue, but he has not responded to my emails and his liason has moved on to another job. The author of the report however, has said that it is primarily concerned with only the cemetery site, and not the original grave site, and relies a lot on the research posted on this site. While CRS reports are not made available to the public, they can be obtained from the Congressman who has requested the report.

It is because these two reports fail to deal with the original grave site, that the position of the US military is that they don't know anything about it, and it's location "has been lost to history."

The only thing that has been lost to history is the failure of our educational school system, US military communications, the diplomatic corps and th government to provide basic historical information about American patriots.

Al Megrahi on the other hand, will be dead and buried long before anybody with any power and influence officially brings up the name Richard Somers with the Libyans.

And then people will want to know who is Richard Somers?

And they can be told that he is a long forgotten American Naval hero who is buried in a parking lot at the shores of Tripoli harbor.

Fighting Pirates - Yesterday & Today

Fighting Pirates – Yesterday & Today

Pirates are capturing American merchant ships off Africa, demanding tribute and holding the crews for ransom.

Sound familiar?

Well that’s what the situation was in the early 1800s, when American merchant ships were being captured and enslaved or held for ransom by the pirates of the Barbary Coast African nations of Morocco, Tunesia and Tripoli.

But instead of paying the tribute and the ransoms, the United States, as a matter of national policy, decided to build at navy, a fleet of ships that would be sent over to engage the pirates and convince them otherwise.

Among those sent over was Captain William Bainbridge of the USS Philadelphia, a battleship of its day, built in Philadelphia and the largest ship in Commodore Edward Preble’s fleet of American warships sent to the Mediterranean to fight the pirates.

More recently, the USS Bainbridge was the first American warship to the scene of an American merchantman captured by pirates off Africa, leading today’s fight against the African pirates.

Unlike the millions of dollars in ransoms paid for ships captured by pirates off Africa today, the American response was to kill the pirates when given the opportunity, a policy and operational style that dates back to the first Barbary wars, and best exemplified by the American schooner Enterprise.

Although written decades later, the Memoir of Commodore David Porter (1875) is a first hand report from someone who was there. Porter reports that, “…The Enterprise was the first vessel that had the satisfaction of humbling the pride and lowering the flag of these corsairs. Notwithstanding the Tripolitan admiral had assured Commodore Gale that no war existed against the United States, on the part of Tripoli, on the first of August, 1801, the Enterprise fell in with a polacre-rigged vessel near the island of Malta, mounting 14 guns (and carrying Tripolitan colors), that was known to be cruising against our commerce. As soon as the colors were recognized, the Enterprise cleared for action, and ran down close to the enemy. As Lieut. Com. Sterrett got within pistol shot he opened his batteries, and continued for three hours to pour in a heavy fire, at the end of which time the Triplotian struck his colors. The polacre was superior in every respect to her antagonist, but the precision of the American’s fire told fearfully upon the enemy and her crew, while the beautiful manner in which the Enterprise was handled (taking whatever position she chose and raking her enemy several times), elicited the admiration even of the corsairs. There are no braver people than the Turks, but on this occasion though they fought desperately they exhibited very little skill. The Corsair lost fifty men in killed and wounded, and the ship was a perfect wreck, her mizzen mast shot away and her yards and sails cut to pieces. On the other hand, owing to the skill with which the Enterprise was handled she received little damage. Three times during the combat did the Tripolitians strike their colors, renewing the fight again when they thought they saw an opportunity of redeeming the fortunes of the day; till at last Lieut. Com. Sterrett, irritated by this treachery, opened fire, with a determination to sink his enemy; when the Tripolitans threw their flag into the sea and cried for quarter. The Tripolitan proved to be the Tripoli commanded by Mahomet Sous, the latter confessed to his orders from the bashaw were to capture American merchant vessels….”

As Porter notes, “Up to the time of the capture of the Philadelphia, the bashaw had received from the Americans nothing but humiliation, or to use the figurative language of the Turks, “The Christian dogs had made him eat dirt.”

The capture of the Philadelphia was probably the single biggest catastrophe of the war, and it is a testament to Bainbridge, who over came the stigma of having lost his ship to the enemy without having fired a shot, to become a US Navy hero and a getting a modern warship named after him.

Born in Princeton, New Jersey, the son of a Tory physician and surgeon for a British regiment during the Revolution, Bainbridge went by the book. He had orders to blockade Tripoli harbor until the rest of the fleet could arrive, with Richard Somers and the schooner Nautilus expected, but in his haste to fulfill his mission to blockade the harbor, Bainbridge chased a pirate corsair too close to the shore and the Philadelphia ran aground. [For in depth report see the Capture of the Philadelphia at Tripoli].

The ship was taken as a prize and the men imprisoned in the dungeon of the old Red Castle fort, prisoner of Yousef Karamanli, the Bashah of Tripoli.

While most of the 300 man crew, when not working on public projects, were confined to the dungeon, Bainbridge was permitted to dine with the Danish ambassador and Dr. Jonathan Powdery, the ship’s surgeon, was permitted to make house calls of sick citizens of the old city, which dates to pre-Roman times.

So now with his prize battleship and 300 hostages, Karamanli wanted a ransom as well as a tribute, but rather than pay, the Americans were resolute, determined to defeat the pirates in battle and win their release. In one of the first successful special ops, Lt. Stephen Decatur took the USS Intrepid, disguised as a pirate ship, into Tripoli harbor and destroyed the Philadelphia, escaping with no casualties.

With a full compliment of ships Commander Preble opened an offensive that attacked the enemy on the water, handily defeating the pirates in the Battle of Tripoli (Aug. 1804). The Americans had Lt. Somers lead one flotilla and Lt. Stephen Decatur another, going up against the pirates in hand-to-hand, swashbuckling combat. These victories were somewhat negated however, by the killing of Midshipman James Decatur, Stephen’s younger brother, and the explosion of the USS Intrepid on September 4, 1804.

In an attempt to duplicate the success of Decatur’s earlier mission to destroy the Philadelphia, Somers took the Intrepid back into Tripoli harbor outfitted as a fire ship.

Twelve men, volunteers all, including officers Lt. Richard Somers and Lt. Henry Wadsworth (uncle of Longfellow), were joined at the last minute by Midshipman Charles Israel, who delivered a message from Preble with final instructions. Israel refused to return to the flagship, and insisted on joining the mission, becoming the unlucky thirteenth man.

The Intrepid slipped quietly into Tripoli Harbor, a lantern could be seen bobbing in the darkness, and then a tremendous explosion lit up the landscape, with the old Red Castle fort in the background, and then all fell quiet and dark.

The next morning thirteen bodies washed ashore and placed on the beach where the Philadelphia’s surgeon, Dr. Cowdery and a party of prisoners buried the men of the Intrepid just outside the castle walls. The three officers were identified and separated from the others and buried in a common grave. They marked the spot with four corner stones and clearly identified the plot with a makeshift cross.

This original grave site, they reported, was one cable’s length from the castle walls, a nautical length of one tenth of a nautical league, or 720 feet, about two and a half football fields. That’s where most of them are today, but the remains of five were uncovered by the Italian army while they were building a road during their occupation in the 1930s, and reentered in the nearby Old Protestant Cemetery, about a mile east along the coastal highway.

The original gravesite is located in what is now known as Green Square, where Col. Mommar Ghaddafi recently celebrated the 40th anniversary of the coup that put him in power, September 1, 1969, when he overthrew the monarchy.

When the US Navy held an official ceremony at the Old Protestant Cemetery in 1949, the Libyan leader was then named Karamanli, of the same family and dynasty as Yousaf Karamanli, the leader of the Barbary pirates two hundred years ago.

At that time Yousaf Karamanli, the Bashaw of Triopoli, was having a family spat with his brother, Hamet Karamanli, pretender to the throne of their father, who was originally from Turkey and an extension of the ancient Ottoman Empire.

In the course of fighting Yousaf Karamanli, the United States supported the efforts of his brother Hamet. Under the leadership of a pistol packing American diplomat William Eaton and Sgt. Presley O’Bannon’s detachment of eight US marines, they put together a small army of 200 Greek mercenaries, a thousand bedouin cavalry they picked up along the way, and supporters of Hamet Karamanli. They marched across the desert and attacking from land, captured the port city of Derna, east of Tripoli. While this expedition is often referred to as the “Battle of Tripoli” in movie and song, it is actually the Battle of Derna.

The loss of Derna certainly made Yousaf Karamanli come around to the Americans way of thinking, and with an army massing against him, he agreed to a peace treaty, one that paid extra ransom for Bainbridge and the men of the Philadelphia, but didn’t pay any outright tribute.

When news of the treaty reached Eaton, O’Bannon and Hamet Karamanli at Derna, they had to quietly lower the Stars & Stripes, slip onto waiting ships and escape the harbor before their mercenary followers learned the news of the betrayal.

Apparently Hamet Karamanli understood how the politics worked and didn’t take it personally because he presented his sword to Presley O’Bannon, the Mamaluk sword that is part of the dress uniform of every US marine.

The diplomats may have prematurely ended the war when they had the upper hand, but Bainbridge, Dr. Cowdery and the officers and men of the Philadelphia were freed and given a heroes homecoming in Philadelphia.


As David Porter described the conclusion: “…The Tripolitans, seeing that the United States was determined to prosecute the war until they were conquered, concluded at length to succumb, and on the third of June, 1805, the treaty of peace was signed.”

“It was agreed that the United States should never be required to pay tribute to Tripoli, but after exchanging prisoners man for man it was settled that $60,000 should be paid to Tripoli for the excess of prisoners in her possession. This later clause in the treaty sounds rather strangely after such loss of life and outlay of money in prosecuting the war; and no doubt, the United States could have made better terms by carrying on hostilities a little longer, but the sufferings of the prisoners in Tripolitan hands were exciting so much sympathy at home, and the expense of further warfare would have been so great that, perhaps, the course pursued may have been the wisest.”

“ It was a joyful day when all these poor fellows were released, and received the congratulations of their friends; but amid all their joy at being relieved from confinement, the prisoners could not but experience deep sorrow when they missed the many comrades who had fallen before the walls of Tripoli. A few years had made sad havoc among their friends, but such is ever the result of war.”

“In this conflict the American nation, which had been fighting for the rights of civilized nations, had won great renown through its navy, and the thanks of Christendom for setting an example that was soon followed by all Europe. When we look at these insignificant Barbary powers today we can hardly realize that we ever consented to pay tribute to them in the first place, and in the last act abandoned all the principles for which we had contended by paying that ransom of $60,000. With all this, however, the navy had nothing to do, and had the matter been left to them to decide, the barbarians would never have got anything, since they knew that they could conquer a peace.”

“Throughout the trying ordeal they had to undergo, the honor of the navy remained untarnished; and painful as had been the imprisonment of the officers and crew of the Philadelphia, yet it produced good fruit, for without the loss of that vessel and its results, the government might have abandoned a contest which in the end put a stop to the enslaving of Christian people.”