SEPTEMBER 4, IS RICHARD SOMERS DAY IN BOTH SOMERS POINT, NEW JERSEY, AND SOMERS, NEW YORK. DO YOU KNOW HIS STORY? RICHARD SOMERS WAS BORN IN THE HOUSE THAT STILL STANDS BY THE BRIDGE TO OCEAN CITY, IN SOMERS POINT, IN 1778, IN THE MIDDLE OF THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION
AMERICA WON THE REVOLUTION IN 1783, WHEN RICHARD SOMERS WAS FIVE YEARS OLD. THE NEXT YEAR, ARAB PIRATES IN THE MEDITERRANEAN ATTACKED AMERICAN SHIPS, AND HELD THE CREWS HOSTAGE FOR THE PAYMENT OF RANSOM.
THOMAS JEFFERSON, OUR AMBASSADOR TO FRANCE WANTED TO GO TO WAR AGAINST THE PIRATES. HE ASKED FRANCE AND THE OTHER EUROPEAN COUNTRIES FOR HELP, BUT THEY REFUSED. THE FRENCH TOLD OUR YOUNG NATION THAT IT WAS MUCH CHEAPER TO PAY BRIBES THAN TO GO TO WAR.
AT FIRST, THE AMERICAN CONGRESS, AND EVEN GEORGE WASHINGTON, OUR FIRST PRESIDENT, AGREED. THEY KNEW THAT AMERICA THEN WAS TOO SMALL, TOO WEAK, AND TOO BROKE TO BUILD A NAVY AND GO TO WAR ALONE AGAINST ENEMIES THOUSANDS OF MILES AWAY. FOR THE NEXT 13 YEARS, WE PAID BRIBES LIKE EVERYONE ELSE.
BUT THE MORE MONEY WE PAID, THE MORE MONEY THE ARAB PIRATES DEMANDED. THEY BOUGHT BIGGER SHIPS, AND BETTER WEAPONS. EACH YEAR, THEY BECAME STRONGER AND MORE DANGEROUS. SOON, NEW FRENCH PIRATES APPEARED IN THE CARRIBEAN.
IN 1797, AMERICA AGAIN TURNED TO FRANCE FOR HELP IN FIGHTING THESE PIRATES. ONCE AGAIN, THE FRENCH CAME UP WITH A PLAN TO PAY PROTECTION MONEY TO THE PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN.
BUT IN 1797, AMERICA REFUSED TO PAY. WE HAD A NEW SLOGAN: “MILLIONS FOR DEFENSE, BUT NOT ONE CENT FOR TRIBUTE!”
CONGRESS SPENT THREE MILLION DOLLARS TO BUILD A NAVY, AND AN ACADEMY AT ANAPOLIS. 19 YEAR OLD RICHARD SOMERS OF SOMERS POINT SIGNED UP.
IN 1798, RICHARD SOMERS HELPED CRUSH THE PIRATES IN THE CARIBBEAN. FIVE YEARS LATER, HE WENT TO THE MEDITERRANEAN TO FIGHT THE ARAB PIRATES.
THE AMERICAN FLEET WON MANY BATTLES, BUT THEN, THE ARABS RAN TO THE SAFETY OF THEIR HARBOR EVERY TIME THEY SAW AMERICAN WARSHIPS.
RICHARD SOMERS FEARED THAT IF HE DID NOT DESTROY THE MAIN FLEET, CONGRESS WOULD SOON GET TIRED OF THE WAR, AND BRING THE FLEET HOME. SO 26 YEAR OLD RICHARD SOMERS CAME UP WITH A DARING PLAN TO END THE WAR.
HE STUFFED ONE HUNDRED BARRELS OF EXPLOSIVES INTO A CAPTURED ARAB SHIP. HIS PLAN WAS TO SNEAK THIS FLOATING BOMB NEXT TO THE PIRATE FLEET IN TRIPOLI HARBOR, LIGHT THE FUSE, AND ESCAPE.
ON SEPTEMBER 4, 1804, RICHARD SOMERS AND 12 VOLUNTEERS SAILED THIS EXPLOSIVE SHIP NAMED INTREPID INTO TRIPOLI HARBOR, BUT SOMETHING WENT WRONG. THE SHIP EXPLODED TOO SOON. RICHARD SOMERS AND HIS CREW WERE BLOWN TO BITS. BUT THE ARAB PIRATES FEARED AND RESPECTED THIS STRANGE NATION OF AMERICANS, WHO WOULD FIGHT AND DIE, BUT WHO WOULD NOT PAY BRIBES. THEY SOON MADE PEACE WITH AMERICA, AND LEFT OUR SHIPS ALONE. BUT THEY CONTINUED TO COLLECT PROTECTION MONEY FROM THE FRENCH AND THE OTHER EUROPEANS.
PLEASE JOIN LIBERTY AND PROSPERITY IN TEACHING THIS LESSON OF RICHARD SOMERS ON SEPTEMBER 4. THAT IS THE DAY RICHARD SOMERS DIED AT TRIPOLI IN 1804.
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