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Aftermath: America’s Presence in the Mediterranean

The 1815 defeat of Algiers signaled the beginning of the end of Barbary hegemony of the Mediterranean Sea. While Decatur’s fleet secured great concessions from Algiers and Tunis in 1815, the United States knew that the Barbary powers had a long history of breaking agreements.

In 1816, the Algerians attempted to renege on their agreement, and in response James Madison deployed the U.S. Mediterranean Squadron, led by Isaac Chauncey, to protect U.S. ships. In August of that year, a combined Dutch and British fleet attacked the city of Algiers and forced the Dey to release over 1,000 European slaves. Several European powers continued paying Algerian tributes as late as 1822.


Clements Highlights

The Clements Library’s postwar material can be found primarily in the papers of Isaac Chauncey and Oliver Hazard Perry, both of whom patrolled the region in 1816 and 1817, and in the Horace Holley papers and Hubert S. Smith Naval collection.

Benjamin W. Crowninshield to Oliver Hazard Perry,
January 5, 1816:

This letter contains Perry’s official orders to join the Mediterranean Squadron.

Benjamin W. Crowninshield to Isaac Chauncey,
February 19, 1816:

Crowinshield relays Chauncey’s instructions for enforcing peace in the Mediterranean and maintaining contact with other American officials in the region.

William Shaler to William Eustis,
April 14, 1816:

Shaler provides Eustis with details on the peace negotiated with Algiers and on European slaves in North Africa.

Isaac Chauncey to Benjamin W. Crowninshield,
October 9, 1816:

This letter, from Isaac Chauncey’s copybook, is Chauncey’s report on the state of peace with the Barbary States, including notes on his interactions with Barbary rulers. Chauncey’s copybook contains outgoing letters documenting much of his Mediterranean patrol.

Horace to Mary Holley,
April 3, 1818:

This letter includes an elaborate description of the monument in the Washington, D. C., naval yards commemorating those fallen in the 1st Barbary War.