At the dawn of the 19th century, a young and growing United States was quickly becoming a leader in transatlantic shipping. Southern plantations churned out tobacco, cotton and sugar thanks to ample land, and a burgeoning slave trade. Before asserting its independence from the Crown, these exports sailed under the watchful eye of the British Navy. Now alone, yet undaunted, U.S. ships took the treacherous voyages at the mercy of the high seas. As the trade routes reached the Mediterranean, American ships came under attack from the Barbary pirates. Left over from the Crusades, the Barbary pirates were a feared navy of Muslims that called the shores of North Africa home. Attacking all Christian ships, the pirates soon made life miserable for 3rd President Thomas Jefferson. In July of 1803, Jefferson, fed up with mounting losses, ordered the U.S.S. Philadelphia to restore order in the Mediterranean. Initially successful in recapturing an American vessel, the Philadelphia soon ran aground off the coast of Tripoli and was surrendered. Not wanting the spoils of war to be used against them, Lieutenant Stephen Decatur, Jr., led a group of men to the grounded ship and set it afire in the Tripoli Harbor. Occurring in 1806, the loss of the Philadelphia was only the end of the first act. The Second Barbary War lasted until 1815, when at last American ships could safely travel the southern Atlantic shores at the mouth of the Straight of Gibraltar. Free of piracy and tribute payments, the American agrarian export economy flourished until cotton was no longer king.