It was hard for me to swallow a US official being sworn in on the Koran, a book whose doctrine does not allow for a nation such as the US to exist. And I didn’t like reading story after story by ignorant writers who applauded Jefferson for owning a Koran and having such an open mind. I thought of the original Martin Luther who said that the best way to defeat Islam was to translate the Koran so that everyone could see how evil the Muslim doctrine was. So I thought to myself that Jefferson was probably reading it to know his enemy rather than praise what some now incorrectly call, the religion of peace.

So was Jefferson a closet Muslim? I doubted it. I doubted it because I knew there was something more to Jefferson and his Koran, but that piece of our history nagged incessantly at me because I couldn’t recall it well. It is usually played down, that is unless you are a Marine, then it is sung often and with reverence. That piece of our history which dates back to Jefferson is part of the Marine hymn which starts out:

From the halls of Montezuma, to the shores of Tripoli,
We fight our country’s battles in the air, on land and sea.

Do you recall history better than I do? Do you already know why Jefferson kept a Koran? If you don’t have it then I’ll give you a few more clues.

  1. A band of nations demanded millions of dollars in tribute from us before we were a nation, and more after we won our freedom from England

  2. Their mercenaries kidnapped, enslaved, sold into slavery, or ransomed US citizens when they felt they weren’t getting enough tribute money.

  3. Captain Bainbridge was forced to fly the flag of the Ottoman Empire on a US Navy ship while delivering tribute to the Sultan in Constantinople.

  4. They declared war on us when the newly elected Jefferson refused to pay tribute to them.

  5. Congress approved finances and a naval expeditionary force without signing a formal declaration of war.

  6. The slogan of the day became: “Millions for defense, not a penny for tribute.”

  7. After 4 years at war they were defeated, and 10 years later we went back and did it again.

  8. They had controlled trade in the Mediterranean by turning their pirate forces on any nation that didn’t convert to Islam or pledge themselves as a non-Christian nation willing to pay tribute to them.

  9. They were the known as the Muslim Barbary Powers of North Africa, but their mercenaries were more commonly referred to as the Pirates of the Barbary Coast.

  10. Tripoli (now called Libya) was the lead nation and was decisively defeated by our naval forces on the “shores of Tripoli”

Here is some information from

Tripoli tan War 1801-1805

A conflict between the United States and Tripoli (now in Libya), incited by American refusal to continue payment of tribute to the piratical rulers of the North African Barbary States of Algiers, Tunis, Morocco, and Tripoli; this practice had been customary among European nations and the nascent United States in exchange for immunity from attack on merchant vessels in the Mediterranean.

A demand from the pasha of Tripoli for greater tribute and his dramatic declaration of war on the United States (May 14, 1801) coincided with a decision by President Thomas Jefferson’s administration to demonstrate American resolve. Despite his opposition to the expense of maintaining a navy, Jefferson dispatched an American naval squadron to Tripoli tan waters. By means of a special “Mediterranean Fund,” the navy–which had been partially dismantled and was perhaps nearing extinction–actually increased in size.

State __Combat Forces Casualties
Tripoli __10,000 _______2,000
USA ___25,000_______ 5,000

Here we are 200 years later, again attacked by the proxy of Islamic nations and defending ourselves in the same region. Interesting that 200 years ago we were willing to lose 1 in 5 soldiers for a total of 5,000 deaths to defend our citizens abroad. We must have been a bit more proud in those days.

Here are a couple of more links, or just Google. Also remember that pasha, dey, sultan are titles given to leaders of Muslim nations.

So nearing conclusion, Jefferson may have been open minded and progressive ahead of his time, but I would have to say he studied his Koran to learn about the Muslims who declared war on our nation when we would no longer tolerate their violence, aggression and extortion.

I hope that President Bush has his own Koran. Not because he needs to be more open minded, but rather because he needs to defend our nation.