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The ambassador from Tripoli tells John Adams and Thomas Jefferson that the Barbary States have a religious duty to wage war on non-Muslim nations (WSJ’s Notable & Quotable)

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Dec. 8, 2015

From a March 28, 1786, letter written by John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, who were American diplomats at the time, to U.S. Secretary of Foreign Affairs John Jay reporting on their conversation in London with the ambassador from Tripoli regarding piracy by the Barbary States:

We took the liberty to make some enquiries concerning the ground of their pretensions to make war upon nations who had done them no injury, and observed that we considered all mankind as our friends who had done us no wrong, nor had given us any provocation.

The Ambassador answered us that it was founded on the laws of their Prophet; that it was written in their Koran; 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 Mussulman [Muslim] who was slain in battle was sure to go to Paradise.

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