A nation whose single greatest influence was Christianity makes “first contact” with the lands of Islam…
In practice, America’s first contact with the lands of Islam came through their trading of slaves among other things while in the colonial stage. The Islamic warriors could not hold the interior of Africa largely due to the geography of the interior. Over time the interior of Africa became viewed as a virtually inexhaustible supply of slaves for the Islamic countries. The slave markets buzzed and routes were established going east (to Arabia, Persia etc.) and west (to the Americas) on a huge scale.
Britain’s massive naval presence in the Mediterranean (and elsewhere) protected America for the most part from becoming slaves… though white slaves were highly prized especially in the harems. Most of Islam’s white slaves were imported from the Islamic frontiers bordering Russia.
That all changed with the declaration of independence. America was no longer under the protection of the British flag. The Barbary States along the northern coast of Africa, Tripoli (AKA Libya) in particular began capturing and selling American ships back to the US on a massive scale. This tribute money from “unbelievers” to avoid enslavement eventually reached the unbelievable sum of 20% of the entire US budget.
It appears that 10 of the first 11 Americans seized died in slavery. It took a while for the Americans to take the threat seriously. (It sounds a lot like today…)
In 1787 alone eleven American vessels were plundered and 121 sailors were taken, hostage. They demanded one million dollars in ransom from the fledgling democracy. Continue reading