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One of the former Barbary States on the northern coast of Africa, stretching west from Egypt to the Atlantic Ocean; bombarded and captured by the French in 1830, and held under French military control till 1871, when a French civil administration was established. All of Algeria is now considered a part of France rather than a colony. The city of Algiers, under French domination, is the capital of the department and colony, is well equipped with educational institutions, and has become as orderly as any place in France. The population in 1891 was 82.585.

The Barbary States derived their name from the Berbers, the ancient inhabitants. From their ports, especially from Algiers, went out piratical vessels to depredate upon the commerce of other peoples. So early as 1785 two American vessels had been captured by these corsairs, and their crews (twenty-one persons) had been held in slavery for ransom. The Dey, or ruler, of Algiers demanded $60,000 for their redemption. As this sum would be a precedent, other means were sought to obtain the release of the captives. In a message, in 1790, President Washington called the attention of Congress to the matter, but the United States were without a navy to protect their commerce. For what protection American vessels enjoyed they were indebted to Portugal, then at war with Algiers. In 1793 the British government made a secret arrangement with that of Portugal, whereby peace with Algiers was obtained. In that arrangement it was stipulated that for the space of a year Portugal should not afford protection to the vessels of any nation against Algerine corsairs. This was for the purpose of injuring France. The pirates were immediately let loose upon commerce. David Humphreys, who had been sent to Algiers by the government of the United States to make arrangements for the release of American commerce from danger, was insulted by the Dey. Humphreys wrote, “If we mean to have commerce, we must have a navy.” Meanwhile the United States were compelled to pay tribute to the Dey to keep his corsairs from American commerce.

From 1785 until the autumn of 1793, when Washington called the attention of Congress to the necessity of a navy, the Algerine pirates had captured fifteen American vessels and made 180 officers and seamen slaves of the most revolting kind. To redeem the survivors of these captives. and others taken more recently, the United States government paid about $1,000,000 in ransom-money. In the autumn of 1795 the government was compelled to agree, by treaty, to pay to the Dey of Algiers an annual tribute for the relief of captured seamen. according to long usage among European nations. It was humiliating, but nothing better could then be done. and humanity demanded it. In 1812 the Dey. offended because he had not received from the American government the annual tribute in precisely such articles as he wanted, dismissed the American consul, declared war, and his corsairs captured American vessels and reduced the crews to slavery. The American consul--Mr. Lear--was compelled to pay the Dey $27,000 for the security of himself and family and a few other Americans there from horrid slavery. Determined to pay tribute no longer to the insolent semi-barbarian, the American government accepted the Dey's challenge for war, and in May, 1815, sent Commodore Decatur to the Mediterranean with a squadron to humble the Dey. Decatur found the Algerine pirate-fleet cruising for American vessels. He played havoc with the corsairs, entered the Bay of Algiers (June 28), demanded the instant surrender of all American prisoners, full indemnification for all property destroyed, and absolute relinquishment of all claims to tribute from the United States there-after. [100] The terrified Dey complied with the demand. See Decatur, Stephen.

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