Gold and Fear

When Thomas Jefferson and John Adams served the infant American republic as diplomats in Paris in 1785, they were both deeply concerned about the Barbary pirates. These pirates, Muslims living in North Africa, had been preying upon American merchant vessels plying the Mediterranean. It was customary for the rulers of these Barbary states to enrich themselves by taking American sailors -- and those as well from European ships -- and holding them hostage. The Europeans paid off the hostage takers. It was thought cheaper than fighting them. Mr. Jefferson and Mr. Adams ventured forth to Versailles to meet with America's great friend, the Comte de Vergennes. France's Foreign Minister had sent millions of livres his king could ill afford in order to sustain America's struggle for independence. He also sent thousands of disciplined French troops who made all the difference at Yorktown. Jefferson and Adams hoped to enlist France's aid in suppressing the Barbary pirates. "God and fear, fear...(Read Full Article)