On this day, November 10, 1775, the United States Marine Corps, is born.
Thomas Jefferson loved peace, but the pirates of Morocco, Algiers, Tripoli, and Tunis were capturing European and American vessels, dividing the plunder among the robber sovereigns, and then ransoming the crews or selling them into slavery.
Some nations, including the United States, paid off the pirates to get them to cease, but the more they plundered and extorted, the more they wanted.
“We are all hungry,” said the pasha of Tripoli, “and if we are not provided for, we soon get sick and peevish.”
Jefferson had enough. Here comes the United States Navy! From 1801 to 1805, on the president’s orders, the American Navy inflicted great loses on the pirates, especially men like Decatur and Bainbridge.
—The Battle of Derna
President Jefferson sent the American Marines to put an end to this insatiable criminal organization once-and-for-all. On April 27, 1805, after marching 600 miles across the Libyan Desert, American Marines attacked a superior force at Derna, Libya, defeated it, and rescued the kidnapped crew of the USS Philadelphia.
According to Marines.com,
The Battle of Derna was the Marines’ first ground battle on foreign soil and is notably recalled in the Marines’ Hymn:
“From the Halls of Montezuma to the shores of Tripoli, we fight our country’s battles in the air, on land and sea.”
From the Halls of Montezuma
To the shores of Tripoli;
We fight our country’s battles
In the air, on land, and sea;
First to fight for right and freedom
And to keep our honor clean;
We are proud to claim the title
Of United States Marine
Our flag’s unfurled to every breeze
From dawn to setting sun;
We have fought in every clime and place
Where we could take a gun;
In the snow of far-off Northern lands
And in sunny tropic scenes,
You will find us always on the job
The United States Marines.
Here’s health to you and to our Corps
Which we are proud to serve;
In many a strife we’ve fought for life
And never lost our nerve.
If the Army and the Navy
Ever look on Heaven’s scenes,
They will find the streets are guarded
By United States Marines.
Daniel Sheridan is an article and post contributor for Madison Liberty. More than that, he is a husband, father, pastor, historian, writer, teacher of the U.S. Constitution, storyteller, and public speaker.