The Algerine Captive
After the Revolutionary War, American sailors lost the protection of Britain's Royal Navy and were easy prey for the pirates of the North African coast, who captured ships and cargo, enslaved crew, and demanded ransom from the U.S. Motivated by these events, Royall Tyler, the first American-born playwright, poet, and novelist, wrote ""The Algerine Captive."" Originally published anonymously in 1797, it tells the tale of fictitious Boston native Dr. Updike Underhill, his capture by Barbary pirates, and their efforts to convert him to their Muslim faith. Written in an entertaining and satiric style that predated Mark Twain, Tyler's novel reveals his patriotic pride and anti-slavery beliefs. His comments on the religious and cultural divide between Western and Islamic beliefs of the day still resonate today.
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