Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Christian Nation? The Treaty of Tripoli

For those intent on believing the fiction that the United States was founded as a Christian nation, I give you The Treaty of Tripoli:

The Treaty of Tripoli, 1797, Article 11, as ratified by Congress:
Art. 11. As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion; as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquillity, of Mussulmen; and, as the said States never entered into any war, or act of hostility against any Mahometan nation, it is declared by the parties, that no pretext arising from religious opinions, shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.

1 comment:

subrosa said...

Art. 11. As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion; as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquility, of Mussulmen; and, as the said States never entered into any war, or act of hostility against any Mahometan nation, it is declared by the parties, that no pretext arising from religious opinions, shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.
I always love to see this on the web as there are several things that atheist fail to take in account. First, sentence ends in a semicolon and leave out much of the intended meaning of article. Second, they know nothing about the early American history with Barbary Coast Pirates.
If the first sentence ended in a period things would be different, but it ends in a semicolon which means the sentence continues to the next and is connected. This means the context and meaning is also connected. That is why President Adams and Congress of 1797 weren’t in an uproar over the statement. The second part of eleven clearly states we don’t discriminate against Muslims. This is clearly a reflection of freedom of religion from first Amendment of the Bill of Rights.
The second part is that they leave out early American history. At the time of the signing of the Treaty of Tripoli the United States had literally no Navy to protect its commerce in the Mediterranean from the Barbary Pirates. Congress commission of six frigates in the Naval Act of 1794, but the first of the six, The Philadelphia, was not completed until May of 1797. The Treaty of Tripoli was ratified in June of 1797. That means that Ambassador Barlow was negotiation the year before with no military might to support his diplomacy. Does that leave the US with a disadvantage at the bargaining table? Yes.
Let’s look at later treaties like 1805 Treaty with Tripoli. Article 11 references to US not being Christian Nation is absent. But if you look at Article 14 of 1805 treaty and it reads, “The government of the United States of American has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquility of Musselmen.” This is a nice paraphrase of original Article 11 in 1797. It is also should be noted that the US had a full Navy at this time patrolling the Mediterranean, minus the Philadelphia which burned in the Tripoli Harbor in 1804.
Finally, let’s look at other later treaties signed by the United States. In 1822, the United States ratified the Convention for Indemnity Under Award of Emperor of Russia as to the True Construction of the First Article of the Treaty of December 24, 1814. In the preamble it states, “In the name of the Most Holy and Indivisible Trinity.” Christianity is the only religion that teaches trinity view of God. If the 1797 makes the US secular, I guess the 1822 treaty supersedes it and makes the US Christian Nation again.