- Historic Sites
The Big Pay-off
Tribute to the Barbary States, 1785-1802
February 1960 | Volume 11, Issue 2
The United States, as a newborn maritime nation, laced the age-old problem of securing safe passage lor its merchant ships, and we thus paid tribute to the Barbary States. A partial accounting of it follows.
Morocco 1786: £5,000 for a treaty guaranteeing “no future presents or tributes”; 1795: the same sum for renewal of the treaty plus consular presents, fieldpieces, small arms, and gunpowder; 1802: 100 gun carriages.
Algeria 1793: $40,000 for relief of prisoners; 1796: nearly $ 1,000,000 for a treaty—86.42,500 in cash, 821,600 annual tribute in naval stores, and 8300 in gifts to the Dey. A long delay in payment called for an additional 853,000 in presents and bribes and the promise of a gO-gun ship; 1797: frigate Crescent delivered; 1798: the Hamdullah and $8,000 in lieu of stores; 1799: the brig Sophia and two schooners in lieu of stores.
Tunis 1798: $107,000 for a treaty and one barrel of gunpowder for every salute requested by an American ship; private presents (jewels, small arms, doth) for the Bey: and public gifts suitable to the occasion; 1800: additional presents amounting to £7,000; 1802: special jewels and clothes for the Bey.
Tripoli 1787; demand (unpaid) for 8100,000 yearly for peace or 30,000 guineas lor perpetual peace: 1796: $56,486 for a treaty; 1799: 8-1,000 for presents and other items, in lieu of stores; 1802: $6,500 to ransom the crew of the Franklin .