What was America's first terrorist threat?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA What was America's first terrorist threat?

From the moment it was established, the United States had headaches with terrorism of the pirate variety. For decades, the federal budget even include bribe money to pay them off. Learn all about this early threat on this episode of Stuff You Should Know.

Female Speaker: Welcome to Stuff You Should Know from HowStuffWorks.com.

Josh Clark: Hey, and welcome to the podcast. I'm Josh Clark. There's Charles W. "Chuck" Bryant. I'm talking weird like a radio announcer, which means time for Stuff You Should Know podcast.

Chuck Bryant: That's right. Welcome, sir. How are you?

Josh Clark: Well, I'm good. Welcome to you as well.

Chuck Bryant: Great.

Josh Clark: I'm good. You?

Chuck Bryant: I'm fantastic.

Josh Clark: Are you?

Chuck Bryant: Sure.

Josh Clark: You feeling high?

Chuck Bryant: Is that a trick question? Yeah, I'm feeling high.

Josh Clark: Good, man.

Chuck Bryant: Feeling high. I'm feeling gay. I'm feeling ready to go.

Josh Clark: Good. Well, let's do this.

Chuck Bryant: All right.

Josh Clark: Okay. Chuck -

Chuck Bryant: Josh.

Josh Clark: Yeah, wait a minute. Wait. Let me relish this. There's no plugs. There's no lead ins.

Chuck Bryant: Wow.

Josh Clark: There's nothing here.

Chuck Bryant: Wow, pretty good.

Josh Clark: Okay. Chuck?

Chuck Bryant: Yes.

Josh Clark: Have you ever heard the word terrorism?

Chuck Bryant: Terro - terwarism?

Josh Clark: No, terror - I know I have a thick tongue - terror -

Chuck Bryant: Terrorism.

Josh Clark: - ism.

Chuck Bryant: Yes, I have.

Josh Clark: You have?

Chuck Bryant: Yes.

Josh Clark: Did you know it's from the French?

Chuck Bryant: I did not know that.

Josh Clark: Pretty surprising, isn't it?

Chuck Bryant: No. Sort of.

Josh Clark: It is to me. It's from the French terrorisme. That's how I assume it's pronounced. You have to say it like you're condescending. Sorry -


Josh Clark: Yeah, nice. But it was coined during the Reign of Terror in the 1789, 1790 during the French Revolution.

Chuck Bryant: So did it have the same meaning like unconventional means of warfare that involved citizens?

Josh Clark: It was basically - it did have roughly the same meaning in that it involved citizens. This is the one thing that terrorism is always pointed to.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah.

Josh Clark: It's when citizens innocent or casualties are directly involved in big problems.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, and not just - of course, there's casualties all the time, including nowadays with U.S. drug strikes and our own wars. But literally abandoning the rules of war, which we've done a podcast on -

Josh Clark: Yes.

Chuck Bryant: - in favor of homemade guerilla tactics -

Josh Clark: To -

Chuck Bryant: - that fall outside those rules.

Josh Clark: Right, and to terrorize people.

Chuck Bryant: And to terrorize people.

Josh Clark: But you're directly targeting normal, everyday citizens.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, which therein lies the terror.

Josh Clark: Right. So terrorism it's been around the last couple hundred years; although, in the U.S. here it just - only in the, I guess, the '50s it started to become kind of a household word.

Chuck Bryant: Right.

Josh Clark: Definitely by the '80s. Once the hijackers started taking over airplanes all over the place, we knew what terrorists were.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, boy. Hi - remember that? Hijacking was such a big deal.

Josh Clark: It was cr - I used to be terrified of that.

Chuck Bryant: And of course that was the central component of 911; but, like, hijacking as far as just taking over the plane that was a -

Josh Clark: Yeah.

Chuck Bryant: - like, a big deal back in the day.

Josh Clark: Yeah, remember that very iconic image of the terrorists holding a gun to that pilot's head -

Chuck Bryant: Oh, yeah.

Josh Clark: - out there on the tarmac in -

Chuck Bryant: Heck, yeah, man.

Josh Clark: - I think Cypress and -

Chuck Bryant: They're, like, leaning out the window?

Josh Clark: Yeah.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, I remember that.

Josh Clark: It was scary.

Chuck Bryant: And that was before they had the good sense to keep those doors secure.

Josh Clark: Or use a metal detector -

Chuck Bryant: Right.

Josh Clark: - before you got on the plane.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah.

Josh Clark: So you couldn't get a .45 onto a plane.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, you were just on the plane, smoking your cigarette with your gun.

Josh Clark: Right, exactly.


Chuck Bryant: So pilot's doors open. If you want to tour the cockpit, just come on up.

Josh Clark: Right.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah.

Josh Clark: Do you mind taking your burlap hood -

Chuck Bryant: Right.

Josh Clark: - off so we can see who you are.

Chuck Bryant: Man, things were so lax. It's so weird.

Josh Clark: So we came to understand terrorism from maybe the '60s to the '80s on, but the United States has been dealing with terrorism literally since the moment it was born.

Chuck Bryant: Yes.

Josh Clark: Especially if you call piracy terrorism.

Chuck Bryant: And for our purposes today, we will.

Josh Clark: Yes. To fall in line with the title of this article, we're going to.

Chuck Bryant: Yes. From the moment we gained our independence from England -

Josh Clark: Yeah, and even before that.

Chuck Bryant: - we became a to - yeah, before then -

Josh Clark: Yeah.

Chuck Bryant: - because Europe was dealing with it as well.

Josh Clark: Right.

Chuck Bryant: These - on the North African Coast, the Barbary Coast so named for the Barbarossa Brothers.

Josh Clark: Yeah, Kheir and Din. No -


Josh Clark: - that's - sorry, that's one guy. Kheir ed-Din was one Barbarossa.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah.

Josh Clark: I'm not quite sure who he was. But there were brothers. Aruj and Hizir.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, and Barbarossa - Barba - beard, rossa - red.

Josh Clark: Red beard.

Chuck Bryant: Red beard just like the Ferrari Testarossa.

Josh Clark: The red testees.

Chuck Bryant: Exactly. And a former quarterback, Vinny Testaverde; but my friend used to call him Vinny Greenballs.

Josh Clark: Yeah.

Chuck Bryant: So I thought it was pretty funny.

Josh Clark: Yeah.

Chuck Bryant: And he played 'til he was, like, 50. So he probably did have set -

Josh Clark: He played for the Bucks, right?

Chuck Bryant: Oh, he played for a bunch of teams but -

Josh Clark: But he was known to play for the Buccaneers. He was -

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, and then later with the Jets. And he - yeah, he was all over the place.

Josh Clark: Oh, really?

Chuck Bryant: Yeah.

Josh Clark: I always just associated with the Buccaneers.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, well, he - I think he played a portion of his career there. But when you play for 25 years or whatever -

Josh Clark: Sure, right.

Chuck Bryant: - you're gonna get around.

Josh Clark: There was never a better heyday for team logos than there were - than the '70s and '80s.

Chuck Bryant: Oh, God.

Josh Clark: Remember, like, the old Raiders' logo, which I guess is still around.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, that's - the Raiders have stayed pretty consistent.

Josh Clark: But the Buccaneers used to have a great -

Chuck Bryant: Yeah.

Josh Clark: - one.

Chuck Bryant: The orange.

Josh Clark: The New England Patriots had, like, that minute man -

Chuck Bryant: Oh.

Josh Clark: - who was ready to hike the ball.

Chuck Bryant: Loved it.

Josh Clark: They were just great. The Pittsburg Pirates had probably one of the better ones of all time.

Chuck Bryant: Y - well, yeah. They were baseball, of course.

Josh Clark: Sure, I know.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah.

Josh Clark: I said sports logos.

Chuck Bryant: Oh, okay.

Josh Clark: I think I said sports.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, you were talking about the old stove top hats that the Pirates wore, the flat caps. They had -

Josh Clark: Oh, yeah, yeah.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah.

Josh Clark: Those are awesome with the -


Josh Clark: - yellow bands.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, they were terrible.

Josh Clark: So speaking of pirates, we were talking about the brothers red beard -


Josh Clark: - the Barbarossa. And these guys were actually Turks, right? But the Spaniards were the ones who named them Barbarossa, and the Spaniards were well versed in the school of the blade taught by Aruj and Hizir Barbarossa.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, and these pirates specifically were helping out Muslim moors driven away from Spain by Christians. And this just reinforced to me, like, Christians and Muslims, man. They've been fighting for a long time.

Josh Clark: Yeah.

Chuck Bryant: Like, anything you see on the news these days, it's like yeah, this has got quite a bit of history here.

Josh Clark: Yeah, 1492 is a really big year for Spain, sent Columbus over here to the new world -

Chuck Bryant: Yeah.

Josh Clark: - and drove the Spanish Muslims, aka the Moops -

Chuck Bryant: Yeah.

Josh Clark: - from Spain.

Chuck Bryant: Oh, are they the Moops?

Josh Clark: No, the Moors. Remember that Seinfeld where he's playing Trivial Pursuit Bubble Boy?

Chuck Bryant: Yeah.

Josh Clark: And he's like, "The Moors." He goes, "No, it's the Moops."

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, I forgot about that. And I feel silly because I thought that might have been a nickname.

Josh Clark: You liked the Moops?

Chuck Bryant: Yeah.

Josh Clark: Yeah. The Spaniards are like Moors, Moops, who cares.

Chuck Bryant: Okay, so after this happens, the Mediterranean Sea right there between North Africa and Southern Europe all of the sudden because it was such a heavily traveled trade route became a haven for piracy because there was lots of stuff to booty.

Josh Clark: Yeah, and -

Chuck Bryant: Lots of stuff to boot. Lots of booty to pillage.

Josh Clark: Yeah, because at this time it was - the - that was the route between Europe and the East Indies, and that's where Europe was making all of its money from the spice trade and all that.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah.

Josh Clark: And so to get there you had to go through the Mediterranean when the Christians drove the Moors to North Africa.

Chuck Bryant: Yes.

Josh Clark: And of course, the North Africans are like hey, we're living here.

Chuck Bryant: The Barbar folks? Isn't that where Barbary comes from?

Josh Clark: No Barbary comes from Barbarossa.

Chuck Bryant: Oh, I thought it said it was so named for the Barber people.

Josh Clark: No, the Barbarossa Brothers. Those guys were so bad. They named the entire North African Coast after them.

Chuck Bryant: Wow.

Josh Clark: The four states of Algiers, Tunis, Morocco, and Tripoli, which is what we now know as Liber - Libya.

Chuck Bryant: Liberty.

Josh Clark: That's the Barbary Coast named after the Barbarossas.

Chuck Bryant: Wow.

Josh Clark: So you've got all this piracy going on. It's stepping up in earnest after 1492, and everybody's just getting taken every which way but Sunday.

Chuck Bryant: That's right, every which way. So Muslims and Christians were both getting in on the piracy game. We don't want to like -

Josh Clark: Sure.

Chuck Bryant: - sling stones -

Josh Clark: That's a good point.

Chuck Bryant: - only at the Muslims. But because of where it was, it was just a haven for it. And I think you point out - this is your article, right?

Josh Clark: Yeah.

Chuck Bryant: In the 17th Century at one point an estimated 20,000 people were captured by the Barbaries and held in Algiers alone. 20,000 kidnappings.

Josh Clark: That's, like, a couple good sized cities back then.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, that's significant. So they were doing a pretty good job -

Josh Clark: Yeah.

Chuck Bryant: - I guess, at the piracy. Yeah?

Josh Clark: That's like the average attendance on a Tuesday night of a Pittsburg Pirates game in the late '70s.

Chuck Bryant: Tuesday night, late '70s, picture a pirates 20,000.

Josh Clark: 20,000.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, they were pretty good, yeah.

Josh Clark: Roberto Clemente Era. He could fill those seats.

Chuck Bryant: He was earlier than that, but yeah, the Willie Startle Era.

Josh Clark: That's what I said.

Chuck Bryant: Let's call it that. So European - they did so much pirating they thought you know what? We can make more money if we start to extort people. We can - not only can we pillage their booty. We can extort money from them, aka getting tributes paid.

Josh Clark: Yeah.

Chuck Bryant: Which is really just extortion.

Josh Clark: It's a protection racket.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah.

Josh Clark: It was we will protect you from ourselves. These guys are like Sicilians all of the sudden. It's like hey, we wouldn't want anything to happen to your ship.

Chuck Bryant: That's right.

Josh Clark: So give us some money, and we'll make sure it doesn't. But they weren't even as sly as the average Sicilian. They said if you don't give us money, we're going to attack your ships, take your goods -

Chuck Bryant: Yeah.

Josh Clark: - and kidnap your crews. And they had certain things. So in addition to tribute and then capturing goods -

Chuck Bryant: Yeah.

Josh Clark: - kidnapping a person could be kind of lucrative no matter what -

Chuck Bryant: Sure.

Josh Clark: - the person's station was socially.

Chuck Bryant: Well, yeah, because well, first of all, pay us if - then we won't kidnap you. And then we will kidnap you, and then get - try and get you to pay us the ransom.

Josh Clark: Right.

Chuck Bryant: Or if you won't do that, then we'll just sell you as a slave; and we're gonna make money one way or the other.

Josh Clark: One way or another.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah.

Josh Clark: If you are a member of a Barbary state and you're a pirate, you know how to make some coin.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, and it was such a racket that nations included line items in their budgets to pay these tributes.

Josh Clark: Yeah.

Chuck Bryant: It was an actual - I don't know. I'd guess you'd call it legit. I mean, it wasn't legitimate because it was plundering. But it legitimately included it as like hey, we gotta pay these guys off -

Josh Clark: Exactly.

Chuck Bryant: - this much money per year; so we just gotta think about that.

Josh Clark: Yeah, and the - I think the United States in its 1784 fiscal budget -

Chuck Bryant: Yeah.

Josh Clark: - had 80 grand set aside to pay as tribute to Barbary governments.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, that is crazy. And I think -

Josh Clark: That was actually small at first too.

Chuck Bryant: Well, yeah, it -I think you pointed out it goes up to $1 million by 1795; and they paid $1 million annually for 15 years.

Josh Clark: That's a lot of coin back then.

Chuck Bryant: That was 10 percent of the federal annual income -

Josh Clark: No.

Chuck Bryant: - at the time.

Josh Clark: No.

Chuck Bryant: Yep.

Josh Clark: Wow. So -

Chuck Bryant: A million bucks.

Josh Clark: - the reason it went up so much was the Barbary states actually had tribute on a sliding scale.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah.

Josh Clark: The European nations, right, at the time if you think of them as corporations because essentially that's what they were -

Chuck Bryant: Yeah.

Josh Clark: -like the British Ucindia Company -

Chuck Bryant: Sure.

Josh Clark: - was pretty much one in the same as the British government.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah.

Josh Clark: They would use the Barbary pirates to - they would use their diplomats to get the Barbary pirates to attack some nations, leave theirs alone.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah.

Josh Clark: They would pale some tribute, but they were - it was definitely part of the political maneuvering was to just to kind of keep this Mediterranean shipping channel open for the super powers -

Chuck Bryant: Yeah.

Josh Clark: - and squeeze out the little guys. Well, the Barbaries were like yeah, we like making money from you. But we also want to make it from the little guys too, so we're gonna establish the sliding scale.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah.

Josh Clark: And based on the size of your economy, that's how much tribute we're gonna extract from you. And when the U.S. was born, they were like oh, you're tiny. Just give us, like, 80 grand. How about that?

Chuck Bryant: Right.

Josh Clark: And then within, like, ten years, they were like oh, yeah, you guys have a whole continent of -

Chuck Bryant: Lots of good stuff.

Josh Clark: - raw material.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah.

Josh Clark: You show no scruples at stealing it from the natives who are living there.

Chuck Bryant: Right.

Josh Clark: So how about $1 million a year from -

Chuck Bryant: Yeah.

Josh Clark: - now on?

Chuck Bryant: So they did that for 15 years. One of the main reasons they did this for so long was because they were trying to form a navy. They didn't even have a navy at this point.

Josh Clark: Who, the U.S.?

Chuck Bryant: Yeah.

Josh Clark: Oh, yeah.

Chuck Bryant: And then in fact this is why the navy was born. It would have been born at some point anyway because you need a navy.

Josh Clark: Sure.

Chuck Bryant: But this is what really spurred the creation of the navy in the U.S. And Thomas Jefferson comes along and was like - told John Adams - he's like, Dude, we can't be paying these - this old world stuff and worrying about paying off these tributes to these guys. Like, we gotta expand west brother.

Josh Clark: Yeah.

Chuck Bryant: Like, this is where it's at. We're sitting here playing these old games, paying these guys money, and trading and - over the Atlantic. Screw that. Let's just stay over here, expand westward; and that's where the future of this country is.

Josh Clark: Right. He also made a pretty good point that it would be more cost effective to take that million bucks -

Chuck Bryant: Yeah.

Josh Clark: - and put it into a navy -

Chuck Bryant: Yeah.

Josh Clark: - and pound the Barbary states into submission than to just keep paying them $1 million a year -

Chuck Bryant: Yeah.

Josh Clark: - at infinidum.

Chuck Bryant: I wonder what the - because this is - while they were doing this concurrently, they were building a navy to try and stop this. Like, if that was 10 percent, I wonder how much it cost to build the navy. Like, a substantial portion of the federal government's funds was tied up in stopping this at the time -

Josh Clark: Sure.

Chuck Bryant: - including building the navy, paying these ransoms or tributes or extortion fees.

Josh Clark: Yeah.

Chuck Bryant: Depending on which way you want to look at it.

Josh Clark: And it was a big problem, like we said, right out of the gate; but it wasn't handled for awhile because Jefferson's ideas - I guess his westward expansion concept and then building a navy rather than paying tribute - he was in the minority. He was the diplomat that succeeded Benjamin Franklin, who is the - America's first diplomat of France. And Benjamin Franklin had - he took the tack that most people at the time took which was this was just part of doing business with the East Indies.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah.

Josh Clark: And we'll do what we can. Before, we used to be under the protection of Great Britain. Well, we split from Great Britain. We're not under their protection anymore. We're still kind of a fledgling nation, so we needed -

Chuck Bryant: Yeah.

Josh Clark: - protection of a super power. So Franklin knew how to charm the French, and he set up the Treaty of Amity and Commerce of 1780 - 1778.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, just directly it addresses this pretty much.

Josh Clark: Yeah, it actually had - it mentioned the Barbary nations by name in this treaty.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah.

Josh Clark: And basically said France, you guys help us out here in the Mediterranean. And France said, okay.

Chuck Bryant: They did say okay, which is good. So Jefferson he doesn't have any real pull at this point yet. It was not until he became President that he could actually really enact his plan -

Josh Clark: Right.

Chuck Bryant: - which was to get out of this whole mess.

Josh Clark: Yeah. And once he did, he basically said you guys are toast.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, I mean, as soon as he was sworn into office, the Turkish ruler, Pasha, demanded an extra $250,000.00 from this new administration. They're like well, you're the new guy. Well, we just need a bonus payment because you're now in office.

Josh Clark: Right. And I looked this up. I was like gall, that was so much money back then. It was about $3 million. It was -

Chuck Bryant: Yeah.

Josh Clark: - less than 3 million, which is not that much.

Chuck Bryant: Yet you never hear about this. It's like, I didn't learn this in high school.

Josh Clark: No, I know. I remember getting out of high school and realizing, like, there's so much more to history.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, well, I didn't realize what else Jefferson was doing in Paris.

Josh Clark: He was doing a lot of crazy stuff.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, and some not so crazy, romantic things.

Josh Clark: Sure.

Chuck Bryant: But you didn't learn about that in high school either.

Josh Clark: No.

Chuck Bryant: About Hemmings. I bet - well, I wonder if they teach that stuff now. I'd be curious to sit in on a high school history class.

Josh Clark: I imagine it's very much the same.

Chuck Bryant: You know it.

Josh Clark: Yeah, there's a certain school of thought that you're indoctrinated into, and there's -

Chuck Bryant: Right.

Josh Clark: - stuff you need to know and things you shouldn't know. And you don't need to know about that.

Chuck Bryant: Sure.

Josh Clark: We don't like to talk about that kind of thing. And then -

Chuck Bryant: College was where I first started getting my real education.

Josh Clark: Yeah.

Chuck Bryant: I had some really good history teachers.

Josh Clark: Yep.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah. All right. So where are we? We are in office as Jefferson.

Josh Clark: Yes, and he already hates the Barbary states because he's been trying to get everybody to turn against them for 15 years. He's finally got the power to do something about it.

Chuck Bryant: That's right. They had taken control of a couple of crew members, captured American ships; and they said you know what? We'll release these guys if you increase your tribute.

Josh Clark: Right.

Chuck Bryant: And Jefferson said enough of this crap. We've got ships now, six of them, I think, at first.

Josh Clark: Is that right?

Chuck Bryant: Yeah.

Josh Clark: That's cute.

Chuck Bryant: You gotta start small.

Josh Clark: Yeah.

Chuck Bryant: And we're coming over to pay you a little visit in our ships. And the first Barbary war from 1801 to 1805 it was a pretty happening war. I mean, it was mostly at sea.

Josh Clark: And it lasted four years, right?

Chuck Bryant: Yeah. But at one point they captured - well, they captured because a U.S. - the USS Philadelphia -

Josh Clark: Yeah.

Chuck Bryant: - I think, ran aground and got stuck.

Josh Clark: So this is one-sixth of the entire U.S. fleet?

Chuck Bryant: At the time, I think so; yeah.

Josh Clark: Wow.

Chuck Bryant: So it got stuck in like working order still. So they captured the ship, take control of the crew; and they use the ship as a gun battery against us because it's just parked right there, I guess. Cannons aimed out towards the sea.

Josh Clark: Right.

Chuck Bryant: So they just used it that way for awhile; and it was Steven Decatur, Lieutenant Steven Decatur of the Navy, led some marines and recaptured the ship and burned it -

Josh Clark: Yeah.

Chuck Bryant: - so they couldn't use it.

Josh Clark: Yeah.

Chuck Bryant: And that guy is - he's - I think there are 46 communities in the United States named Decatur including -

Josh Clark: Including one where you live.

Chuck Bryant: Right here in Atlanta.

Josh Clark: And Jerry.

Chuck Bryant: So named - yeah, and Jerry so named for Stephen Decatur.

Josh Clark: And there's a pic - there's a statue. Is that Decatur or Jefferson?

Chuck Bryant: I think there's a Decatur statue right there at the -


Josh Clark: What was the one that we shot at though? Was that Jefferson?

Chuck Bryant: Oh, was that Jefferson? I think -

Josh Clark: The guy riding?

Chuck Bryant: You know man? I don't even know. That's sad.

Josh Clark: That is sad.

Chuck Bryant: We like molested this statue -

Josh Clark: We're sitting here -

Chuck Bryant: - in a dumb shoot.

Josh Clark: - talking about this, and -

Chuck Bryant: Yep.

Josh Clark: - we don't even know what statue's what.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, but I know there is the Decatur Monument in the center of Decatur -

Josh Clark: Sure.

Chuck Bryant: - of Stephen Decatur.

Josh Clark: Sure. He wa - but yeah, this is where he really kind of proved his stripes as an admiral; and apparently, he became very close to being killed. But one of his crew members - when they were going to attack the Philadelphia, one of his crew members threw himself in-between Decatur and -

Chuck Bryant: Oh, really?

Josh Clark: - a Barbary, I guess, pirate.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah.

Josh Clark: And he survived; but, like, he threw himself in-between the sword and -

Chuck Bryant: Wow.

Josh Clark: - Decatur. And Decatur went on to -

Chuck Bryant: Yeah -

Josh Clark: - do even -

Chuck Bryant: - big fame.

Josh Clark: - greater stuff.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah.

Josh Clark: But yeah, so they destroy the Philadelphia. They get out. It's very daring, and you said marines were there.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, I mean, led by a naval officer. But it was definitely the marines that -

Josh Clark: Okay.

Chuck Bryant: - did the dirty work.

Josh Clark: And that's why if you listen to the Marine Corp hymn in the first line it's from the halls of Montezuma to the shores of Tripoli, this is what they're talking about.

Chuck Bryant: Pretty cool.

Josh Clark: So the first Barbary war lasts from 1801 to 1805. It was mostly with Tripoli. They're the ones who were giving us the most trouble. Tunis and Algiers basically said you know what? We're just gonna stand over here for a little bit. We're fine. We - all of our alliances with you we're not gonna break them.

We're pirates. We're all pirates, everybody. What did you expect? And then several years later Thomas Jefferson retires the Monticello, and James Monroe comes into the presidency. And we have trouble again, but this time it's with Tunis and Algiers.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah.

Josh Clark: And James Monroe takes a totally different tack than Thomas Jefferson I think because we had a much bigger navy by then -

Chuck Bryant: Oh, yeah.

Josh Clark: - for the second Barbary war.

Chuck Bryant: Was it just a little more aggressive?

Josh Clark: We just went into the coast of Tunis and Algiers and pounded their cities with our cannons. And they said okay, okay, sorry.

Chuck Bryant: Right. You guys are -

Josh Clark: And after that -

Chuck Bryant: - bigger now.

Josh Clark: Right. After that the U.S. said, no more. We're never paying you another dime.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, in the first war they - you pointed out that they used a tactic used by the Green Berets, which was to find local insurgent groups to help them do the fighting. And I think in this case there were some Greeks and Arab and Berber mercenaries that we like enlisted to help fight against them on land.

Josh Clark: Yeah.

Chuck Bryant: What little fighting there was on land, and it worked. And it was the first time a U.S. flag was every raised on foreign soil.

Josh Clark: Yep.

Chuck Bryant: Thankfully.

Josh Clark: Man, I am just overwhelmed with jingoism right now.

Chuck Bryant: Are you a jingoist?

Josh Clark: I - for the moment.

Chuck Bryant: You and Toby Keith?

Josh Clark: Yeah.

Chuck Bryant: Bro-ing around?

Josh Clark: Man, that guy. What happened to him?

Chuck Bryant: He's around I'm sure.

Josh Clark: Okay.

Chuck Bryant: I mean, I don't keep up, but nothing's happened to him as far as I know. He's still jingoing it up.

Josh Clark: Okay.

Chuck Bryant: So is that it? I got nothing else.

Josh Clark: I've got something else. So we were talking about how you said Christians and Muslims alike were not shy about resorting to piracy -

Chuck Bryant: Sure.

Josh Clark: - enslavement, and all that stuff. And the Mediterranean had seen piracy for millennia, but it all really started in the crusades. And that's when one side was just capturing the other's -

Chuck Bryant: Yeah.

Josh Clark: - people.

Chuck Bryant: We ought to cover that at some point.

Josh Clark: The crusades?

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, I mean, it -

Josh Clark: Sure.

Chuck Bryant: - we could - it'd only have to be an overview, obviously.

Josh Clark: Right.

Chuck Bryant: Because we could do, like, ten shows on the crusade.

Josh Clark: Sure, sure. But throughout this time, there's this order called the Mathurians. And they are a French Catholic sect, and their whole gig was raising money to use to ransom sailors who couldn't pay their own ransom to keep -

Chuck Bryant: Wow.

Josh Clark: - them from being sold into enslavement, which is a pretty noble pursuit. And these guys were like - they were - they took vows of poverty; so they, like, weren't hoarding any of the money themselves. They -

Chuck Bryant: Yeah.

Josh Clark: - weren't getting fat off this. They really used it, and over three centuries they ransomed 90,000 sailors that were captured.

Chuck Bryant: Wow.

Josh Clark: Yeah, and one of those guys turned out to be Miguel de Cervantes, who wrote Don Quixote.

Chuck Bryant: Really?

Josh Clark: Yep. He was captured in the Mediterranean.

Chuck Bryant: And I suppose he wrote that after he was freed?

Josh Clark: I don't know.

Chuck Bryant: I would say so.

Josh Clark: Well -

Chuck Bryant: That's just a guess.

Josh Clark: - isn't that cool though?

Chuck Bryant: That is cool.

Josh Clark: He was captured by the Barbary -

Chuck Bryant: Actually, I thought -

Josh Clark: - pirates.

Chuck Bryant: - about one more thing too. The - apparently the slaves, I mean, it was not great to be captured as a slave; but it wasn't like European and American slaves. Like, you could actually gain wealth, possession, and status as a slave.

Josh Clark: In Africa?

Chuck Bryant: Yeah.

Josh Clark: Yeah, African slavery is much different than Portuguese-style slavery that we're used to here in the states.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah. And most of the time it was not like a great thing, but you could - I think one guy even rose to a position of advisor to a king of Algier or something.

Josh Clark: Oh, wow, wow.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah.

Josh Clark: And by used to I meant aware of and disgusted by.

Chuck Bryant: Okay, right.

Josh Clark: Not used to.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah, accustomed to.

Josh Clark: Is that it?

Chuck Bryant: Yes.

Josh Clark: Okay. Well, that was America's first terrorist threat. Pirates. That was the answer.

Chuck Bryant: The red beards.

Josh Clark: If you want to learn more and read the article that I wrote, you can type in first terrorist threat. There's a lot of terrorism stuff. We should do one on how terrorism works in general.

Chuck Bryant: Have we not done that?

Josh Clark: No.

Chuck Bryant: No?

Josh Clark: You can find all that stuff by typing terror into the search bar at HowStuffWorks.com. I'll bet it'll bring up some surprising stuff. And since I said search bar, listener mail.

Chuck Bryant: Not quite yet my friend.

Josh Clark: Okay.

Chuck Bryant: Quick little TV show plug.

Josh Clark: Yes. By now, everybody knows we have a television show coming out on Science channel at 10:00 p.m. Eastern standard time on Saturday, January 19th.

Chuck Bryant: Yes.

Josh Clark: And we're very excited about it.

Chuck Bryant: Yes. We are following the Series 3 Premiere of Idiot Abroad -

Josh Clark: Right.

Chuck Bryant: - with Karl Pilkington and Ricky Gervais. We're getting -

Josh Clark: Yep.

Chuck Bryant: - pretty pumped up about.

Josh Clark: Yeah.

Chuck Bryant: And then comes our show; and if you don't have TV or cable, you can still get this on iTunes. You can purchase each show each week, I believe the following day, for a buck 99. And the first show is free.

Josh Clark: Yep. So Saturday, January 19th at 10:00 p.m. is the world premiere of Stuff You Should Know television show. And then at 10:30 p.m. is episode 2; back-to-back episodes on January 19th. It'll be a big deal. So what, listener mail time now?

Chuck Bryant: Yes.

Josh Clark: Okay.

Chuck Bryant: All right, Josh. I'm gonna call this Asexual healing.

Josh Clark: No, you're not.

Chuck Bryant: Yes, I am.

Josh Clark: Did you coin - did you make that up?

Chuck Bryant: Yeah.

Josh Clark: That's awesome.

Chuck Bryant: Guys, when I first saw the podcast on asexuality, I figured it had to be about asexual reproduction like single celled organisms or sea sponges. I was a little trepidatious when I saw it was actually about asexuality as a sexual orientation. Often I am not particularly happy with any brief overview of any subject I care about or have much knowledge about. I was pleased I had no such negative reaction to your podcast though. In fact it was extremely uplifting.

Josh Clark: Nice.

Chuck Bryant: You described much of the difficulty I had growing up, the talk of being confused by your friends. Suddenly being into girls was particularly evocative. In high school and college I also had a lot of really awkward or negative interactions with people, especially girls who just didn't get what I was.

I even had a female friend stop being my friend when I turned down her sexual advances. I can only guess as to why, but I always felt, like, she just didn't believe me. And that really sucked. I also - it also made me realize that at 31 years old I'm not as okay with my sexuality as I'd like to think I am.

No matter how much I have told myself and others I'm asexual, and I'm cool with it, I've always had that itch in the back of my head that has told me that I'm crazy or delusional or there's something wrong with me. Knowing that this is a real thing was such a relief. I'm now looking into A-B-E-N and finding all sorts of exciting stuff. So thank you very much for covering this subject.

Josh Clark: Nice.

Chuck Bryant: Yeah.

Josh Clark: Congrats.

Chuck Bryant: That is an anonymous listener who got something out of the show, which is nice.

Josh Clark: Got asexual healing out of the show.

Chuck Bryant: I hope so.

Josh Clark: That's really cool. That is what we man. That's why we do this.

Chuck Bryant: Psychic healers.

Josh Clark: We've asked for it before. We'll ask for it again. If Stuff You Should Know has changed your life one way or another especially for the better, we want to hear about it. You can tweet to us if you can fit the whole thing into 140 characters or less at syskpodcast. You can join us on Facebook.com/stuffyoushouldknow, and you can send us a good old-fashioned email. Wrap it up, spank it on the bottom, send it off to stuffpodcast@discovery.com.

Female Speaker: For more on this and thousands of other topics, visit HowStuffWorks.com.

[End of Audio]

Duration: 28 minutes