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America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion

Image by “Caveman Chuck” Coker
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 Musselmen; and as the said States never have entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mehomitan 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.
— Article 11 of the Treaty of Peace and Friendship, signed at Tripoli November 4, 1796.

The above page is from American State Papers, Senate, 5th Congress, 1st Session, Foreign Relations: Volume 2, pages 18-19. It can be found at the Library of Congress by clicking here.

The treaty was signed at Tripoli on November 4, 1796. A third-party witness signed it at Algiers on January 3, 1797. It was signed in Lisbon on February 10, 1797 by David Humphreys, Commissioner Plenipotentiary.

It was ratified by the U.S. Senate on June 7, 1797. 23 of the 32 Senators were present for the June 7 vote which unanimously approved the ratification. The Senators were Bingham, Bloodworth, Blount, Bradford, Brown, Cocke, Foster, Goodhue, Hillhouse, Howard, Langdon, Latimer, Laurance, Livermore, Martin, Paine, Read, Rutherfurd, Sedgwick, Stockton, Tattnall, Tichenor, and Tracy.

It was signed by President John Adams on June 10, 1797.

There is no record of discussion or debate of the Treaty of Tripoli at the time that it was ratified. However, there is a statement made by President Adams on the document that reads:

Now be it known, That I John Adams, President of the United States of America, having seen and considered the said Treaty do, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, accept, ratify, and confirm the same, and every clause and article thereof. And to the End that the said Treaty may be observed, and performed with good Faith on the part of the United States, I have ordered the premises to be made public; And I do hereby enjoin and require all persons bearing office civil or military within the United States, and all other citizens or inhabitants thereof, faithfully to observe and fulfill the said Treaty and every clause and article thereof.

The Treaty of Tripoli would have disappeared into oblivion, along with all the other treaties the U.S. signed, except for Article 11.

The treaty is cited as historical evidence in the modern day controversy over whether there was religious intent by the founders of the United States government. Article 11 of the treaty has been interpreted as an official denial of a Christian basis for the U.S. government.

Advocates of the separation of church and state claim that this text constitutes evidence that the United States Government was not founded on the Christian religion. The Senate’s ratification was only the third recorded unanimous vote of 339 votes taken. The treaty was printed in the Philadelphia Gazette and two New York papers, with no evidence of any public dissent.

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Treaty of Peace and Friendship between the United States of America and the Bey and Subjects of Tripoli of Barbary.

ARTICLE 1.

There is a firm and perpetual Peace and friendship between the United States of America and the Bey and subjects of Tripoli of Barbary, made by the free consent of both parties, and guaranteed by the most potent Dey & regency of Algiers.

ARTICLE 2.

If any goods belonging to any nation with which either of the parties is at war shall be loaded on board of vessels belonging to the other party they shall pass free, and no attempt shall be made to take or detain them.

ARTICLE 3.

If any citizens, subjects or effects belonging to either party shall be found on board a prize vessel taken from an enemy by the other party, such citizens or subjects shall be set at liberty, and the effects restored to the owners.

ARTICLE 4.

Proper passports are to be given to all vessels of both parties, by which they are to be known. And, considering the distance between the two countries, eighteen months from the date of this treaty shall be allowed for procuring such passports. During this interval the other papers belonging to such vessels shall be sufficient for their protection.

ARTICLE 5

A citizen or subject of either party having bought a prize vessel condemned by the other party or by any other nation, the certificate of condemnation and bill of sale shall be a sufficient passport for such vessel for one year; this being a reasonable time for her to procure a proper passport.

ARTICLE 6

Vessels of either party putting into the ports of the other and having need of provissions or other supplies, they shall be furnished at the market price. And if any such vessel shall so put in from a disaster at sea and have occasion to repair, she shall be at liberty to land and reembark her cargo without paying any duties. But in no case shall she be compelled to land her cargo.

ARTICLE 7.

Should a vessel of either party be cast on the shore of the other, all proper assistance shall be given to her and her people; no pillage shall be allowed; the property shall remain at the disposition of the owners, and the crew protected and succoured till they can be sent to their country.

ARTICLE 8.

If a vessel of either party should be attacked by an enemy within gun-shot of the forts of the other she shall be defended as much as possible. If she be in port she shall not be seized or attacked when it is in the power of the other party to protect her. And when she proceeds to sea no enemy shall be allowed to pursue her from the same port within twenty four hours after her departure.

ARTICLE 9.

The commerce between the United States and Tripoli, — the protection to be given to merchants, masters of vessels and seamen, — the reciprocal right of establishing consuls in each country, and the privileges, immunities and jurisdictions to be enjoyed by such consuls, are declared to be on the same footing with those of the most favoured nations respectively.

ARTICLE 10.

The money and presents demanded by the Bey of Tripoli as a full and satisfactory consideration on his part and on the part of his subjects for this treaty of perpetual peace and friendship are acknowledged to have been recieved by him previous to his signing the same, according to a reciept which is hereto annexed, except such part as is promised on the part of the United States to be delivered and paid by them on the arrival of their Consul in Tripoly, of which part a note is likewise hereto annexed. And no presence of any periodical tribute or farther payment is ever to be made by either party.

ARTICLE 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 Musselmen; and as the said States never have entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mehomitan 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.

ARTICLE 12.

In case of any dispute arising from a notation of any of the articles of this treaty no appeal shall be made to arms, nor shall war be declared on any pretext whatever. But if the (consul residing at the place where the dispute shall happen shall not be able to settle the same, an amicable referrence shall be made to the mutual friend of the parties, the Dey of Algiers, the parties hereby engaging to abide by his decision. And he by virtue of his signature to this treaty engages for himself and successors to declare the justice of the case according to the true interpretation of the treaty, and to use all the means in his power to enforce the observance of the same.

Signed and sealed at Tripoli of Barbary the 3d day of Jumad in the year of the Higera 1211 — corresponding with the 4th day of Novr 1796 by

JUSSUF BASHAW MAHOMET Bey
SOLIMAN Kaya
MAMET Treasurer
GALIL Genl of the Troops
AMET Minister of Marine
MAHOMET Coml of the city
AMET Chamberlain
MAMET Secretary
ALLY Chief of the Divan

Signed and sealed at Algiers the 4th day of Argib 1211 — corresponding with the 3d day of January 1797 by

HASSAN BASHAW Dey

and by the China Agent plenipotentiary of the United States of America

[Seal] Joel BARLOW

Source: Yale Law School

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Journal of the executive proceedings of the Senate of the United States of America, 1789-1805
WEDNESDAY, June 7, 1797.

Mr. Bloodworth, from the Committee to whom was referred the consideration of the treaty of peace and friendship, between the United States of America and the Bey and subjects of Tripoli, of Barbary, made report, that it be adopted; and the report being amended,

On the question to agree to the report as amended,

It was determined in the affirmative, Yeas 23.

The yeas and nays being required by one-fifth of the Senators present,

Those who voted in the affirmative, are — Messrs. Bingham, Bloodworth, Blount, Bradford, Brown, Cocke, Foster, Goodhue, Hillhouse, Howard, Langdon, Latimer, Laurance, Livermore, Martin, Paine, Read, Rutherfurd, Sedgwick, Stockton, Tattnall, Tichenor, and Tracy.

So it was

Resolved, (two-thirds of the Senators present concurring therein,) That the Senate do advise and consent to the ratification of the treaty of peace and friendship between the United States of America and the Bey, and subjects of Tripoli, of Barbary.

Ordered, That the Secretary lay this resolution before the President of the United States.

Source: Library of Congress: A Century of Lawmaking for a New Nation: U.S. Congressional Documents and Debates, 1774-1875.

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Note: This image was supposed to look like torn paper, but it didn’t quite work. If anything it looks like metal. If anyone can offer any tips I would appreciate it. Thanks.

treaty-of-tripoli_b3_800x600

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