Barbary Wars Timeline

  • September 3, 1783: Signing of the Treaty of Paris ends the American war for independence; American ships are no longer protected under British treaties

  • October 1784: The Boston merchant ship Betsy is captured off the coast of Africa and its crew are sold into slavery in Morocco

  • 1786: United States signs a peace treaty with Morocco

  • 1794: Congress raises one million dollars to purchase peace with the Barbary States and begins to construct a small naval force

  • 1795: United States signs a treaty with Algiers

  • 1796: United States signs a treaty with Tripoli

  • 1797: United States signs a treaty with Tunis

  • July 1797: William Eaton is appointed American consul to Tunis

  • December 1799: United States agrees to pay Tripoli $18,000 per year to secure safety for American trade ships in the Mediterranean; similar agreements with the other Barbary powers are also settled

  • February 17, 1801: Thomas Jefferson becomes President of the United States

  • March 1801: Tripoli declares war on the United States and seizes numerous American merchant ships

  • May 15, 1801: Jefferson sends a naval squadron, commanded by Captain Richard Dale to Tripoli to blockade the port; the blockade lasts from July 24-September 3

  • August 1, 1801: Andrew Sterett and the USS Enterprise capture Admiral Rais Mahomet Rous’ ship Tripoli after a bloody battle; the event is considered the first U.S. naval victory of the Barbary Wars

  • February 6, 1802: Congress passes the Act for Protection of Commerce and Seamen of the United States Against the Tripolitian Corsairs, essentially a declaration of war

  • June 17, 1802: The Emperor of Morocco declares war against the United States but negotiates a peace settlement in August

  • January 17, 1803: Commodore Edward Preble leads an American squadron to the Mediterranean; subordinate officers include Stephen Decatur, John Rodgers, Isaac Chauncey, Oliver Hazard Perry, and David Porter

  • March 4, 1803: Commodore Charles Morris and Captain John Rogers are arrested by the Bey of Tunis and are forced to pay Eaton’s debts

  • May 12, 1803: Captain Rodgers and the John Adams capture the Tripolitan frigate Meshouda

  • June 10, 1803: Tobias Lear is appointed consul general to the Barbary States

  • October 31, 1803: William Bainbridge and his warship the Philadelphia surrender to Tripoli after running aground in Tripoli harbor

  • February 16, 1804: Stephen Decatur on the Intrepid set the captured Philadelphia on fire as it is anchored in Tripoli harbor

  • August 3, 1804: Commodore Preble launches an attack on Tripoli that lasts until September 11

  • April 27, 1805: After a two month march across the Libyan desert, William Eaton, former Tripoli Pasha Hamet Karamanli, and a group of mercenaries attack Derna by land, meanwhile three US warships under Captain Isaac Hull strike Derna by sea; together they take the fort

  • May 15, 1805: Rodgers takes over command of the American fleet from Samuel Barron

  • June 4, 1805: The Pasha agrees to a treaty with Lear and takes over Derna; America no longer needs to pay yearly tributes to Tripoli

  • June 10, 1805: Treaty of Tripoli is officially signed

  • November 1805: Tobias Lear is stationed at Algiers as U.S. consul

  • 1807: The Mediterranean Squadron is withdrawn and Barbary powers resume capturing American trading ships

  • March 5, 1809: James Madison becomes president

  • July 25, 1812: The Dey of Algiers refuses the annual American tribute and expels Tobias Lear and his colleagues from Algiers

  • July 25, 1812: Algerian corsairs capture the brig Edwin

  • Fall 1812: At the outset of the War of 1812, the British blockade the Atlantic seaboard of the United States, thus halting much Mediterranean commerce

  • April 9, 1813: Tobias Lear arrives in New York City

  • December 24, 1814: United States and Great Britain sign the Treaty of Ghent, ending the War of 1812

  • March 3, 1815: Congress, with Madison’s support, declares war on Algiers

  • May 15, 1815: Commanding the American fleet, Stephen Decatur leaves New York for Algiers

  • July 3, 1815: Stephen Decatur destroys several Algerian ships before suing for peace with Algiers.  William Shaler negotiates treaty that ends the practice of paying tribute, frees American and European slaves from Algiers, and secures full American shipping rights in the Mediterranean

  • November 12, 1815: Stephen Decatur and the Guerriere return to New York City to a hero’s welcome

  • December 5, 1815: The Algiers Treaty is taken before Congress

  • December 15, 1815: Madison declares the Barbary War over; American squadrons still patrol the Mediterranean

  • January 5, 1816: Oliver Hazard Perry is sent as captain of the Java to patrol the Mediterranean

  • June 1816: Isaac Chauncey replaces Stephen Decatur as commander of the Mediterranean Squadron, which enforces the Algiers Treaty

  • 1830: Andrew Jackson appoints David Porter consul general to Algiers