5 Little Known Facts about Article 11 of the Treaty of Tripoli

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Tuesday, April 4, 2017 0 comments


by Bill Fortenberry

Perhaps no other document is referenced more frequently than the Treaty of Tripoli in this generation’s attempt to throw off our nation’s Christian heritage. I was recently invited to discuss this treaty on Do Not Keep Silent, and I’ve compiled a list of 5 facts about Article 11 of the Treaty of Tripoli that will help you understand it in its proper historical context.

Click here to listen to the recorded broadcast.

1. It was not written by an American, much less a founding father.
a. It was a letter from the Dey of Algiers to the Pasha of Tripoli.
b. Tripoli was a tributary of the Ottoman Empire, and Algeria was the base of operations for all Muslim piracy.
c. Tripoli had to have permission from the Dey to sign a treaty with America.
d. Article 11 was a letter granting Tripoli permission to sign the treaty.
e. It was not written by an American at all.

2. It was not part of the treaty itself.
a. The letter was included in the treaty book because it was necessary in order for the treaty to be considered valid in Tripoli.
b. Without this letter, a new Pasha of Tripoli could break the Treaty and claim that it was invalid because it was never approved by the Dey of Algiers.
c. It was not a part of the actual treaty.

3. It did not actually say that America is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion.
a. The original letter was written in Arabic.
b. It was hastily translated into English by Joel Barlow as he traveled from Tripoli to Algiers in order to get the final seal of approval from the Dey of Algiers.
c. The actual letter contains several paragraphs worth of praise to Allah and concludes with this statement:

Further, if there are American people coming to the well-protected Tripoli, they wish to be, by your carefulness, honored and free from all disagreements as are, Indeed, all the Christian nations, so that nobody molests them and no injury befalls them; and likewise people from Tripoli, if they proceed to the country of the Americans, they shall be honored, elevated upon the heads, nobody molesting or hindering them until they travel homeward in good state and prosperity.

d. Barlow completely ignored the majority of the letter and made a poor attempt at translating the final paragraph.
e. Here is Barlow’s translation:

As the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion,-as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion or tranquility of Musselmen,-and as the said States never have entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mehomitan nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.

4. There are other more important phrases which are never quoted by those who quote Article 11.
a. Every single article of the treaty begins with the phrase “Praise be to Allah”
b. The superscription of the Dey of Algiers, which was just as vital to the treaty as the letter to the Pasha of Tripoli, includes this statement:

"He who takes the Apostle of Allah for his helper, if the lions encounter him in their jungles, they will withdraw. You never see a friend of his but victorious, nor an enemy of his but crushed!"

c. If the Treaty of Tripoli were an authoritative source of information on America’s religious foundations, then we would have to conclude that America was founded as a Muslim nation.
d. Obviously, the Treaty of Tripoli is not an authoritative source of information on America’s religious foundations.

5. John Adams lost to Thomas Jefferson in the next presidential race because he was accused of trying to start a national church.
a. John Adams was the only founding father to give his approval to the final treaty.
b. If the Treaty of Tripoli really did establish by law that America was not a Christian nation, then Adams could have simply reminded people that he was the President who signed the Treaty of Tripoli.
c. In other words, Adams would have greatly benefited from the idea that the Treaty of Tripoli was a law declaring that America was not founded on the Christian religion.
d. The fact that Adams never once attempted to use the Treaty of Tripoli in this manner proves that he never envisioned it as a denial of America’s Christian foundation.

Next time someone brings up the Treaty of Tripoli as an argument against America’s Christian foundation, just point out a few of these facts and shine a little more light on our nation’s history. As we each do our part to enlighten others, the truth will eventually become too well known to be ignored.

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