Declaration of War
Barbary Pirates, February 6, 1802
An Act for the Protection of the Commerce and Seamen of the United States, Against the Tripolitan Cruisers.
WHEREAS the regency of Tripoli, on the coast of Barbary, has commenced a predatory warfare against the United States:
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress Assembled, that it shall be lawful fully to equip, officer, man, and employ such of the armed vessels of the United States as may be judged requisite by the President of the United States, for protecting effectually the commerce and seamen thereof on the Atlantic ocean, the Mediterranean and adjoining seas.
SEC. 2. And be it further enacted, That it shall be lawful for the President of the United States to instruct the commanders of the respective public vessels aforesaid, to subdue, seize and make prize of all vessels, goods and effects, belonging to the Bey of Tripoli, or to his subjects, and to bring or send the same into port, to be proceeded against, and distributed according to law; and also to cause to be done all such other acts of precaution or hostility as the state of war will justify, and may, in his opinion, require.
SEC. 3. And be it further enacted, That on the application of the owners of private armed vessels of the United States, the President of the United States may grant to them special commissions, in the form which he shall direct, under the seal of the United States; and such private armed vessels, when so commissioned, shall have the like authority for subduing, seizing, taking, and bringing into port, any Tripolitan vessel, goods or effects, as the before-mentioned public armed vessels may by law have; and shall therein be subject to the instructions which may be given by the President of the United States for the regulation of their conduct; and their commissions shall be revocable at his pleasure. Provided, that before any commission shall be granted, as aforesaid, the owner or owners of the vessel for which the same may be requested, and the commander thereof, for the time being, shall give bond to the United States, with at least two responsible sureties, not interested in such vessel, in the penal sum of seven thousand dollars; or, if such vessel be provided with more than one hundred and fifty men, in the penal sum of fourteen thousand dollars, with condition for observing the treaties and laws of the United States, and the instructions which may be given, as aforesaid; and also, for satisfying all damages and injuries which shall be done, contrary to the tenor thereof, by such commissioned vessel; and for delivering up the commission, when revoked by the President of the United States.
SEC. 4. And be it further enacted, That any Tripolitan vessel, goods or effects, which shall be so captured and brought into port by any private armed vessel of the United States, duly commissioned, as aforesaid, may be adjudged good prize, and thereupon shall accrue to the owners and officers, and men of the capturing vessel, and shall be distributed according to the agreement which shall have been made between them, or, in failure of such agreement, according to the discretion of the court having cognizance of the capture.
SEC. 5. And be it further enacted, That the seamen may be engaged to serve in the navy of the United States for a period not exceeding two years; but the President may discharge the same sooner, if in his judgment, their services may be dispensed with.
APPROVED, February 6, 1802.
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