On November 10th, 1775 in Tun’s Tavern, Philadelphia, PA. The United States Marines were born as the Continental Marines. With the Treaty of Paris, which ended the Revolutionary War on April 11th, 1783 Congress dissolved the Continental Marines and Continental Navy. On July 11th, 1798 US President John Adams signed “An Act for Establishing and Organizing a Marine Corps,” effectively creating a new branch of the military. The US Marines were born again! So what does this have to do with Pirates?? Read On!!
In 1794 the US (and European nations) was plagued by pirate attacks on merchant vessels traveling near what was then called the Pirate Coast. The Pirate coast consisted of Tunis, Algiers, and Tripoli. The pirates would hijack ships, take crews captive and then demand ransom. Many nations payed a tributes to keep their ships safe. As a new nation, the US was not in a position to pay tribute nor did they have an interest.
On October 3rd, 1803 the US Frigate Philadelphia and schooner Vixen (now that is a Ship’s name!) were ordered to Tripoli with whom the US had been at war over the piracy. The Philadelphia was run aground and the the ship’s crew captured by the Basha of Tripoli. The Philadelphia was captured and towed to the port of Tripoli. So, what do the Marines have to do with this?? Read On!!
In response, the US sent a contingent of Marines (7 to be exact) led by Lt. Presley O’bannon to overthrow the ruler of Tripoli and help re-establish the reign of Hamet Karamanli in what was to be known as the First Barbary War. This war marked the first time the US was to plant the flag of the new nation on foreign soil and was when the US Marines were presented with the Mamaluke Sword which, since 1825 has been a part of the US Marine Corps officer Uniform. The war also has been memorialized in the Marines hymn which starts: “From the halls of Montezuma to the shores of Tripoli…”
While piracy off the African Coast has seen a resurgence in recent years, the US, and specifically the US Marines have a long and storied history with piracy….