Dawn like Thunder: The Barbary Wars and the Birth of the U.S. Navy

Dawn like Thunder: The Barbary Wars and the Birth of the U.S. Navy

Dawn like Thunder: The Barbary Wars and the Birth of the U.S. Navy

Dawn like Thunder: The Barbary Wars and the Birth of the U.S. Navy

Excerpt

The clear, languid dawn of November 9, 1800, crept out of the Bosporus and across the Sea of Marmora and revealed to early watchers along the shore a strange ship riding at anchor inside the Golden Horn.

She had come up under darkness, at 10 o'clock on the night before, and now at daybreak she flew from her mizzenmast a novel flag of red and white stripes and white stars on a field of blue, colors unknown in these waters.

The American frigate George Washington , of 24 guns, Captain William Bainbridge commanding, out of Philadelphia, was calling on official business at the Sublime Porte.

Across the city seated on its rolling hills sounded the long, singsong wails of the Moslem priests, calling plaintively from the rooftops, towers, and mosques, notifying the faithful that Allah had bequeathed a new day.

Scarcely were these morning supplications ended and faces turned from Mecca to matters close at hand, when a harbor patrol boat put out from the waterfront castle. Coming alongside the American ship, the captain of the harbor hailed the impertinent newcomer who had penetrated unannounced to the very heart of the Ottoman power, and now held beneath her guns the sacred mosque of Mohammed the Conquerer, Standard Bearer of the Prophet, and the art and treasures of the Moslem world. Captain Bainbridge replied politely that the colors he flew were those of the United States of America. The inquiring officer wasted no time in conversation but turned his boat back toward the shore.

Bainbridge had displayed considerable daring in venturing unheralded into the harbor of Constantinople and might expect to face any consequence, considering that the world was being torn apart by Napoleon's wars, which had fallen with early fury on the Near East. Anywhere in the Levant, unfamiliar elements might be looked on with . . .

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