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Naval Battle Commemorative Snuffbox Algerian Frigate Attacked By An American Frigate
1815-Dated (War of 1812 Era), Decorative Commemorative Snuffbox, Algerian Frigate Chased & Attacked By An American Frigate, Naval Battle Scene, Likely French Export, Very Fine.
This historic round snuffbox measures 3.5" in diameter x .75" high, with a decoupage print lid showing a Naval Battle scene. The text below is in French and English text, reading, "An algerian frigat beat and chased by an american frigat en 1815" and "Frigate algerienne battue et chassee par une fregate americaine." A large American Flag can be seen flying at the back of the American Frigate as it fires its cannon at the Algerian ship. The snuffbox has actual wear from use, mostly to the bottom and edges, having a few small expert touchups in the top image. The inside lower lid rim worn and chipped from use. A most historic piece of commemorative American Naval history. Accompanied by a written note dated 1907 from a family member of the original owner.
Along the Barbary Coast, opportunity once again opened the door for Pirate raids when war broke out between the United States and Great Britain in 1812. Almost immediately American shipping in the Mediterranean was interrupted: in September the American brig Edwin was seized by Algiers, followed by similar actions on the part of Tunis and Tripoli. In the midst of a war against the seemingly all-powerful British Empire, Americans could do little to prevent such incursions on the nation's sovereignty beyond advising merchants to avoid the region.

When the war with Britain ended, however, an American public flushed with nationalistic pride in having "won" such a lopsided conflict, pushed to flex its muscles again by exacting vengeance on the Barbary Pirates. Now president, Madison was as reticent about a war in North Africa as he had been in 1805. Nonetheless, political pressure on the mild-mannered president was heavy, forcing him in March 1815 to ask Congress for a formal declaration of war against Algiers. Congress enthusiastically granted his request and a force of ten warships under the command of William Bainbridge and Stephan Decatur was dispatched to the Mediterranean to end piracy once and for all. Now hardened veterans after the many naval encounters with Britain during the War of 1812, the American Navy was nothing like it had been during its first encounters with the Barbary Pirates. Decatur and Bainbridge devastated every enemy vessel they encountered, taking in all twenty-nine enemy flags (which they stitched together as a gift for First Lady Dolly Madison). And on the morning of June 28 the flotilla sailed boldly into the harbor at Algiers, trained its guns on the city and palace, and demanded immediate surrender. Decatur instructed the Dey that "If you insist in receiving powder as tribute, you must expect to receive balls with it." The Algerian ruler immediately agreed to Decatur's terms: releasing all Americans in his custody and, in a notable turn of the tables, the Dey was to pay the United States $10,000 in indemnities. Having settled matters with Algiers, Decatur's force then went on to Tunis and Tripoli where they concluded similar agreements. For his part, Decatur released all but a handful of his pirate prisoners of war, though he brought seven back with him to the United States where they were put on display in several New York theaters.

Thus ended the thirty years of recurring war between the United States and the Barbary Pirates that had begun with the seizure of the Betsey in 1784. But this still was not the end of the story. At the Congress of Vienna, the peace conference that ended the Napoleonic Wars, the great powers of Europe concluded that piracy in the Mediterranean was no longer in their economic or diplomatic best interest and resolved to use all force at their disposal to end it permanently. Thus a year after Decatur's successful venture in the region, a joint Anglo-Dutch force attacked the Barbary Coast, making it clear to the pirate powers that they needed to seek alternative sources of income. Never again would Barbary Pirates haunt the sea lanes in the Straits of Gibraltar; the Golden Age of piracy was over.

Christopher L. Miller
Table of Contents >> Historical >> War of 1812 >>
Item #93800Price: $1,995.00Add to Cart
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