By Ted Sampley
Democrat Keith Ellison is now officially the first
Muslim United States congressman. True to his pledge,
he placed his hand on the Quran, the Muslim book of
jihad and pledged his allegiance to the United States
during his ceremonial swearing-in.
Capitol Hill staff said Ellison's swearing-in photo
opportunity drew more media than they had ever seen in
the history of the U.S. House. Ellison represents the
5th Congressional District of Minnesota.
The Quran Ellison used was no ordinary book. It once
belonged to Thomas Jefferson, third president of the
United States and one of America's founding fathers.
Ellison borrowed it from the Rare Book Section of the
Library of Congress. It was one of the 6,500 Jefferson
books archived in the library.
Ellison, who was born in Detroit and converted to
Islam while in college, said he chose to use
Jefferson's Quran because it showed that "a visionary
like Jefferson" believed that wisdom could be gleaned
from many sources.
There is no doubt Ellison was right about Jefferson
believing wisdom could be "gleaned" from the Muslim
Quran. At the time Jefferson owned the book, he needed
to know everything possible about Muslims because he
was about to advocate war against the Islamic
"Barbary" states of Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and
Ellison's use of Jefferson's Quran as a prop
illuminates a subject once well-known in the history
of the United States, but, which today, is mostly
forgotten - the Muslim pirate slavers who over many
centuries enslaved millions of Africans and tens of
thousands of Christian Europeans and Americans in the
Islamic "Barbary" states.
Over the course of 10 centuries, Muslim pirates
cruised the African and Mediterranean coastline,
pillaging villages and seizing slaves.
The taking of slaves in pre-dawn raids on unsuspecting
coastal villages had a high casualty rate. It was
typical of Muslim raiders to kill off as many of the
"non-Muslim" older men and women as possible so the
preferred "booty" of only young women and children
could be collected.
Young non-Muslim women were targeted because of their
value as concubines in Islamic markets. Islamic law
provides for the sexual interests of Muslim men by
allowing them to take as many as four wives at one
time and to have as many concubines as their fortunes
Boys, as young as 9 or 10 years old, were often
mutilated to create eunuchs who would bring higher
prices in the slave markets of the Middle East. Muslim
slave traders created "eunuch stations" along major
African slave routes so the necessary surgery could be
performed. It was estimated that only a small number
of the boys subjected to the mutilation survived after
When American colonists rebelled against British rule
in 1776, American merchant ships lost Royal Navy
protection. With no American Navy for protection,
American ships were attacked and their Christian crews
enslaved by Muslim pirates operating under the control
of the "Dey of Algiers"--an Islamist warlord ruling
Because American commerce in the Mediterranean was
being destroyed by the pirates, the Continental
Congress agreed in 1784 to negotiate treaties with the
four Barbary States. Congress appointed a special
commission consisting of John Adams, Thomas Jefferson,
and Benjamin Franklin, to oversee the negotiations.
Lacking the ability to protect its merchant ships in
the Mediterranean, the new America government tried to
appease the Muslim slavers by agreeing to pay tribute
and ransoms in order to retrieve seized American ships
and buy the freedom of enslaved sailors.
Adams argued in favor of paying tribute as the
cheapest way to get American commerce in the
Mediterranean moving again. Jefferson was opposed. He
believed there would be no end to the demands for
tribute and wanted matters settled "through the medium
of war." He proposed a league of trading nations to
force an end to Muslim piracy.
In 1786, Jefferson, then the American ambassador to
France, and Adams, then the American ambassador to
Britain, met in London with Sidi Haji Abdul Rahman
Adja, the "Dey of Algiers" ambassador to Britain.
The Americans wanted to negotiate a peace treaty based
on Congress' vote to appease.
During the meeting Jefferson and Adams asked the Dey's
ambassador why Muslims held so much hostility towards
America, a nation with which they had no previous
In a later meeting with the American Congress, the two
future presidents reported that Ambassador Sidi Haji
Abdul Rahman Adja had answered that Islam "was founded
on the Laws of their Prophet, that it was written in
their Quran, that all nations who should not have
acknowledged their authority were sinners, that it was
their right and duty to make war upon them wherever
they could be found, and to make slaves of all they
could take as Prisoners, and that every Musselman
(Muslim) who should be slain in Battle was sure to go
For the following 15 years, the American government
paid the Muslims millions of dollars for the safe
passage of American ships or the return of American
hostages. The payments in ransom and tribute amounted
to 20 percent of United States government annual
revenues in 1800.
Not long after Jefferson's inauguration as president
in 1801, he dispatched a group of frigates to defend
American interests in the Mediterranean, and informed
Declaring that America was going to spend "millions
for defense but not one cent for tribute," Jefferson
pressed the issue by deploying American Marines and
many of America's best warships to the Muslim Barbary
The USS Constitution, USS Constellation, USS
Philadelphia, USS Chesapeake, USS Argus, USS Syren and
USS Intrepid all saw action.
In 1805, American Marines marched across the dessert
from Egypt into Tripolitania, forcing the surrender of
Tripoli and the freeing of all American slaves.
During the Jefferson administration, the Muslim
Barbary States, crumbling as a result of intense
American naval bombardment and on shore raids by
Marines, finally officially agreed to abandon slavery
Jefferson's victory over the Muslims lives on today in
the Marine Hymn, with the line, "From the halls of
Montezuma to the shores of Tripoli, we will fight our
country's battles on the land as on the sea."
It wasn't until 1815 that the problem was fully
settled by the total defeat of all the Muslim slave
Jefferson had been right. The "medium of war" was the
only way to put and end to the Muslim problem. Mr.
Ellison was right about Jefferson. He was a
"visionary" wise enough to read and learn about the
enemy from their own Muslim book of jihad.