Of the five hundred or so American privateers inventoried in the War of 1812, only one, the Abaellino, appears to have chosen the Mediterranean, an unlikely theater of war, as grounds for cruising, depredation, and prize disposal. The cruise of the Abaellino is worthy of attention not only on account of its uniqueness, but also on account of the repercussions it entailed in foreign relations. This study looks at three areas of historical significance. First, it introduces the privateer by identifying the origin of her name and its ideological connotations in American cultural and social history. Second, it explains how the privateer showed up in the Mediterranean and documents her six-month cruise there just as peace proceedings were underway. The third area, at the intersection of diplomatic and naval history, examines how the privateer attempted to dispose of her British prizes in Tunis and Tripoli where the local authorities wished to remain neutral, and how attendant exertions by US Consuls and the US Navy resulted in the use of gunboat diplomacy. Ultimately, the story of the Abaellino emerges as more than just a story of privateering. It introduces an ironic nuance to the conventional American narrative concerning ‘Barbary’ and American conduct towards it: after denouncing ‘Barbary’ as a den of pirates, an American corsair was now roaming the Mediterranean and using ‘Barbary’ as a base for replenishment and prize disposal.


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pp. 1-19
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