The main period covered by these papers is that of 1798 to 1805, relating to the Barbary affairs. The earlier and later items
are for the most part of a personal nature. The chronological distribution may be indicated as follows:
William Eaton (1764-1811) played a conspicuous part in the affairs of the United States and the Barbary Powers from 1798 to
1805. After a period of service in the U. S. Army in Georgia, he was appointed U. S. Consul to Tunis, in 1798, and was instrumental
in removing the obstacles to ratification of the peace negotiated by a former chargé d'affaires. In 1804, appointed Navy Agent to the Barbary States, he led an expedition in behalf of the deposed ruler of Tripoli, in an
attempt to end the war between that country and the United States begun in 1801. When the success of the venture seemed almost
secured with the capture of Derne, Eaton was surprised to be ordered to leave Tripoli, and to learn that negotiations by Tobias
Lear for a peace, involving the ransom of American captives and maintaining the usurping ruler, were concluded.
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