Date of Award

Summer 8-4-2011

Degree Type


Degree Name


Degree Program




Major Professor

Mokhiber, James

Second Advisor

Mitchell, Mary N.

Third Advisor

Millett, Allan


The following essay examines the image of "Barbary piracy" created by two prominent political figures, Thomas Jefferson and William Eaton, and by the American public from 1784 to 1805, and how those images shaped the policy of the American-Barbary War. Eaton‟s Orientalist approach to describing piracy and the North African population limited his views of this region, thus reducing the American conflict to the annihilation of animalistic "brutes." Jefferson‟s practical approach to describing piracy and the North African population focused on emancipating the region from the corrupting influence of greed, allowing him the necessary flexibility to solve the conflict by either by military force or with peace treaties, whichever was necessary. I will show the impact that categorizing piracy as either the result of a depraved society or as a corrupting force had on both American perceptions of the North Africa people and on the outcome of the American-Barbary War.


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