Tripoli Monument

by David Porter

In 1839, in the course of complaining that the British had vandalized the Tripoli Monument when they occupied the Navy Yard in Washington, DC. in 1814, Commodore David Porter gave this description of the Monument:

To the Editor of the Army and Navy Chronicle: “… It may be within the recollection of many, that during our war with Tripoli, several of our naval officers fell gloriously before it, in vindication of the honor of our country. I was confined a prisoner at the time, in the Pasha's castle, and was prevented from participating in the acts which immortalized their names; but I was no sooner released by the peace which took place, than a subscription was got up by their brother officers to erect a monument to perpetuate their fame, so that their conduct might serve as, an example for the imitation of others. The money for this purpose was placed at my disposal. I drew the design, had it executed in Italy, brought to the United States, and placed in the navy yard, surrounded by trophies taken from the Tripolitans.

“Suitable descriptive inscriptions in English, explanatory of its object, and by whom erected, were placed on it; and one, among others, purporting that the heroes, whose ashes were supposed to be deposited in it, had been inspired by the love of Glory, (represented by the lamps which surrounded the base;) and Fame, after crowning them, had presented to them the Palm. Commerce, bearing the Cornucopia, is represented lamenting the fall of its protectors. The bas-relief at the foot of the naval column, represents the battles fought before Tripoli, which America is pointing out and describing to her admiring children, and History is calmly seated at the base, looking back, recording the past events, with a golden pen.…”