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US trade ships had been at the mercy of the Barbary Pirates after the US lost the protection of British in the Mediterranean.

Much like the Ayatollahs and political Islam of today (Iran), the pirate-sponsoring Muslim nations in 1797 had no concept of separation of church and state. In part payment of the "tribute" to buy off the government-sponsored pirates robbing US ships and making US citizens into slaves (the first US foreign policy crisis), the Barbary Treaty assured the pirate states that the US, unlike their counterparts in North Africa, did not have a "state religion" - and guaranteed that religious differences between the countries would not "interrupt the harmony" which was being purchased between the US and the Barbary states.

I.e. - Ever since 1797, when the US was first able to "buy peace" with Muslim leaders - the US has always assured those Muslim states run by a religious sects that the US did not have a state religion other than the worship and protection of free international trade.

Without a standing navy, much less a navy capable of projecting force across an ocean, the U.S. was forced to pay tribute monies and goods to the Barbary nations for the security of its ships and the freedom of its captured citizens. As General William Eaton informed newly appointed Secretary of State John Marshall in 1800, "It is a maxim of the Barbary States, that 'The Christians who would be on good terms with them must fight well or pay well.'"[24]

Soon after the formation of the United States, privateering in the Mediterranean Sea and Atlantic Ocean from the nations of the Barbary Coast prompted the U.S. to initiate a series of so-called peace treaties, collectively known as the Barbary Treaties. Individual treaties were negotiated with Morocco (1786), Algiers (1795), Tripoli (1797) and Tunis (1797), all of them more than once. The United States consul-general to the Barbary states of Algiers, Tripoli and Tunis was Joel Barlow, who dealt with the text of various treaties (including the Treaty of Tripoli) and supported U.S. diplomatic efforts in the Barbary Coast. Commissioner Plenipotentiary of the United States, David Humphreys, was given the right to establish a treaty with Tripoli and assigned Joel Barlow and Joseph Donaldson to broker it. It was Joel Barlow who certified the signatures on the Arabic original and the English copy provided to him. Later, Captain Richard O'Brien established the original transport of the negotiated goods along with the Treaty, but it was the American Consul James Leander Cathcart who delivered the final requirements of payment for the treaty.

However, before anyone in the United States saw the Treaty, its required payments, in the form of goods and money, had been made in part. As Barlow declared: "The present writing done by our hand and delivered to the American Captain OBrien makes known that he has delivered to us forty thousand Spanish dollars,-thirteen watches of gold, silver & pinsbach,-five rings, of which three of diamonds, one of saphire and one with a watch in it, One hundred & forty piques of cloth, and four caftans of brocade,-and these on account of the peace concluded with the Americans."[1] However, this was an incomplete amount of goods stipulated under the treaty (according to the Pasha of Tripoli) and an additional $18,000 had to be paid by the American Consul James Leander Cathcart at his arrival on April 10, 1799.[29]

The US is not a Christian nation. It is a capitalist nation, with freedom to practice all religions. Unlike the Muslim states of North Africa in 1797, who were paid to stop taking US ships and turning US citizens into slaves.
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