It's funny how history provides us with answers to modern questions. (Wasn't that Dr. Who's shtick?) Anyway, Article 11 of the Treaty of Tripoli provides concise answers to two of today's stickiest questions: Was America founded as a Christian Nation? And, what would the Founders think of our Modern Mideast Misadventures?
The answers are "No," and, "They wouldn't approve." Check it out:
Have you ever wondered why the first verse of the Marine Corps Hymn references "the shores of Tripoli?" It's because America's first foreign military excursion took place along the southern Mediterranean coast, possibly presaging the direction our county was to follow. Pirates based in the Muslim city-state of Tripoli, now the capital of Libya, had adopted the policy of disrupting American trade by raiding cargo ships in the area. American naval and marine forces were dispatched to the region to punish the offenders and to rescue American captives. (For a more detailed history, click here.)
At the close of hostilities, just six years after adopting the Bill of Rights, the Treaty of Tripoli was signed after having been read aloud on the floor of the US Senate. It was ratified unanimously and approved by President Adams in 1797. Of the treaty's 12 articles, Article 11 sheds the most light on our early government's frame of mind.
Article 11, reads:
"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."
So I think it's safe to say that our non-Christian forbears would vehemently disapprove of the current administration's "character of enmity against the tranquility of Mussulmen." But of course, Adams & Co. didn't foresee the impact of oil.