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The Treaty of Tripoli
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Here's what it says:
Until you send us this article, readers of this page will have to be content with the following dialogue on American OnLine's "Separation of Church and State" Discussion Board.
|In article <firstname.lastname@example.org>, email@example.com (EDarr1776) writes:
>Well, Kevin, then you must agree that the U.S. is not a Christian nation.
>Because, while these treaties only trade Bibles and buildings in a quid pro
>quo, and they make no representations for internal policy, there IS that
>little treaty with Tripoli, from the same time.
>CorumB posted on this board last December 27, again in response to Kevin:
>Officially called the "Treaty of peace and friendship between the United
>States of America and the Bey and Subjects of Tripoli, of Barbary," most
>refer to it as simply the Treaty of Tripoli. In Article 11, it states:
>The preliminary treaty began with a signing on 4
November, 1796 (the end of
The Founders did not intend to "found" a Christian nation. This is true.
As for the Treaty, I'm always happy to repost the facts.
In 1783 the US and Britain ended the war with the Paris Peace Treaty.
Clearly America WAS a Christian nation, so any claim that it "never" was is
The following distortions (written by Jim Walker) on the Treaty of Tripoli can be found at the website:
In article <1998072712305100.IAA20463@ladder03.news.aol.com>, firstname.lastname@example.org (CorumB) writes:
>The U.S. is not, and never was, a Christian nation.
>Unlike governments of the past, the American Fathers
set up a
This statement is terribly misleading. Unlike governments of the past, the American Fathers set up a government divorced from ecclesiastical control, not religion in general, and not Christianity.
Isaac Cornelison wrote a book in 1895 entitled:
No nation is without a religion.
Today our nation's religion is the religion of Secular Humanism.
Nor is any nation without a duty to have a religion.
George Washington stated that "it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor." He went on in his Thanksgiving Proclamation of October 3, 1789 to write, that as a nation "we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations, and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions." George Washington, "Proclamation: A National Thanksgiving," A Compilation Of The Messages And Papers Of The Presidents, 1789-1902, ed. John D. Richardson, 11 vols. (Washington, DC: Bureau of National Literature and Art, 1907), 1:64.
If the disputed language in this treaty was actually signed by Adams, he undoubtedly meant something other than that attributed to him by secularists. Adams expressed his religious views on numerous occasions, but his call for a National Fast Day on March 6, 1799 is the most expressive:
Note the contrast Adams draws between things "secular" and "sacred." Clearly Adams did not labor under the illusion that he had to have a "secular purpose" for declaring a national day of prayer ("Lemon test"), nor did he believe that government could never "advance religion," but rather, had a duty to do so. Thus Tocqueville wrote,
>The establishment of a secular government
"Disestablishment" has reference to ecclesiastical (church) affairs, not to Christianity in general. All of the Signers of the Constitution believed that Government depended on and should encourage the Christian religion. I challenge secularists to quote one signer of the Constitution who believed that their document secularized an already-Christian nation.
>However, as the U.S. delved into international
The statement "As the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion" must be read in context and with background knowledge of the religion of Islam before its meaning can be determined with certainty. For those desiring more detail, click here.
America was considered to be a Christian nation by Tripoli. This is made clear by reading the original Treaty. In a 1930 annotated translation of the Treaty, Dr. C. Snouck Hurgronje of Leiden, Netherlands, reviewed the original Treaty and found numerous statements that clearly show that Tripoli considered America to be a Christian nation. Here is just one example:
Throughout the Treaty "Christian nations" (e.g., Article VI) and "Tripoli," a Moslem stronghold that was used as a base of operations for Barbary pirates, are contrasted. Moslem nations were hostile to "Christian nations." The Barbary pirates habitually preyed on ships from "Christian nations." In drafting the treaty, the United States had to assure the Dey (ruler) of Tripoli that in its struggle with the pirates that "it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion or tranquility of Musselmen," that "the said states never have entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mehomitan (Moselm) nation."
A contrast was also being drawn between America as a disestablished Christian nation, and the European nations which had long been involved in military struggles with the Muslims (crusades, Ferdinand & Isabella's expulsion of Muslims from Grenada, etc.). As Noah Webster said, "The ecclesiastical establishments of Europe which serve to support tyrannical governments are not the Christian religion but abuses and corruptions of it." Daniel Webster similarly explained: "Christianity to which the sword and the fagot [burning stake or hot branding iron] are unknown -- general tolerant Christianity is the law of the land!"
>Although the Christian exclusionary wording in the
Nothing about the clause is "clear." It is not even clear if it is in the treaty at all. It is not representative of the feelings of the Founders. It may have been Joel Barlow's intent to state that, but the Senate's intent was simply to reassure the Muslims that "holy war" was not a part of this new nation's policy.
Piracy remained a problem despite the 1797 Treaty. In addition, Tripoli demanded increased tribute payments in 1801. When President Jefferson refused to increase the tribute, Tripoli declared war on the United States. A United States squadron, under Commander Edward Preble, blockaded Tripoli from 1803 to 1805. After rebel soldiers from Tripoli, led by United States Marines, captured the city of Derma, the Pasha of Tripoli signed a treaty promising to exact no more tribute.
It is important to note that the 1805 Treaty with Tripoli differs considerably from the 1797 Treaty. The most important difference is this:
In the 1805 version "as the Government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion" is conspicuously absent. The first Treaty was terminated by war. A new treaty was drafted in 1805 (ratified April 12, 1806). Article 14 of the new treaty corresponds to Article 11 of the first treaty. It reads in part: "[T]he government of the United States of America has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquility of Musselmen." The phrase declaring that the "government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion" does not appear. Assurances are still offered that the United States will not interfere with their religion or laws.
It's obvious that by 1805 the United States had greater bargaining power and did not have to knuckle under to the demands of this Muslim stronghold. A strong navy and a contingent of marines also helped.
THE TRINITARIAN TREATY OF 1822
If the critics of the Christian America thesis are going to be honest, then they must give an adequate reason why the 1805 treaty does not contain the words that seem to denounce the Christian religion. They also must answer why the revised Treaty occurred during Thomas Jefferson's term as president, since Jefferson, when compared to Washington and Adams, is the most hostile to organized Christianity!
If treaties are going to be used to establish the religious commitment of the nation, then it's essential that we look at all of the treaties. In 1822, the United States, along with Great Britain and Ireland, ratified a "Convention for Indemnity Under Award of Emperor of Russia as to the True Construction of the First Article of the Treaty of December 24, 1814." (16) It begins -- as many treaties did -- with these words:
Only Christianity teaches a Trinitarian view of God. If the 1797 Treaty of Tripoli does in fact make Christianity null and void in America (which it does not), the Treaty of 1822 reestablishes Trinitarian Christianity as the official religion of the United States.
(16) Malloy, TREATIES, CONVENTIONS, INTERNATIONAL
ACTS, PROTOCOLS AND AGREEMENTS BETWEEN THE UNITED
STATES OF AMERICA AND OTHER POWERS,
1776- 1909, 1:634.
CorumB: > I realize there are many more
The question betrays a failure to understand the nature of the American system. Each of the colonies became independent states after 1776, much like Switzerland is in independent state. Neither the Articles of Confederation or the Constitution changed that. The Constitution would not have been ratified without the guarantee in the First Amendment that there would be no declaration of a Federal church which would override the religious character of the states. The foundation of all the states was Christianity, a founding which took place generations before the Constitution, and connected America with centuries of Christian common law. What united the states was not a federal declaration of religious unity but a religion commonly-held by the states. The Constitution did not transform America from "Christian" to "secular." Had there been any thought that the Framers intended to do so, the Constitution would have had no chance whatsoever of ratification.
Subject: Re: The Truth about the Treaty of Tripoli
>The phrase in the English version was put there by
the State Department's guy
Barlow did not know Arabic. The treaty was translated into English sometime in Jan-Feb 1797, probably by an Algerian court official. The translation Barlow submitted with a signed statement that "The foregoing is a literal translation of the writing in Arabic" is way off the mark. A better translation was made in 1930 by Dr. C. Snouck Hurgronje of Leiden, and is found in Charles I. Bevans, Treaties and Other International Agreements of the United States of America, 1776-1949 (Department of State, 1974) vol XI at 1073f. See the translation of Article 12. It differs markedly from Barlow's.
On Article 11, Bevans has the following:
A number of explanations have been put forth as to how Article 11 became part of the Treaty. "One explanation is that the Dey of Algiers wrote this note on the Treaty to mollify certain concerns of the Pasha of Tripoli about entering into a Treaty with an 'infidel' (non-Islamic) nation. The Algerian court official translating the document translated everything on the page without regard to its nature or source. It is also possible that the American foreign service officials, eager to conclude a treaty, allowed the Barbary officials to continue under that impression." (Eidsmoe, Christianity and the Constitution, p. 415)
>So it was written out by the guy who negotiated the
treaty and knew what it
David Barton's book Original Intent provides some excellent analysis of the Treaty and its context. Excerpts here.
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