To summarize, the basic involvement of Anna Maria Porcile was that, as an enslaved individual whose family was too poor to buy her freedom, she was taken in by the then US consul in Tunis, William Eaton. He first 'guaranteed' her purchaser's debt, giving her family 6 months to pay for her release, but when they failed to be able to do so, he borrowed the approximately $5,000 dollars from a local merchant, Unis bin Unis, to gain her release. This debt was added to other debts he had accrued while trying to appease the local ruler, the Bey of Tunis,Hammuda Pasha, and supporting his plan to back Hamet Caramelli in a coup to replace his brother the current Pasha of Tripoli, Yusef Caramelli. This outstanding debt was later used as leverage to remove Eaton as consul when Commodore Morris entered Tunis and was confronted by the Beys minister and the creditor Unis over the amount owed. The Bey asked Morris to remove Eaton as consul, asking for him to be replaced with someone "with a disposition more congenial to Barbary interests."3
Eaton was removed as consul on March 3, 1803. But he would return to the region later, after gathering support for his plan to place Hamet in power. He would, with his 8 marines and force of 500 mercenaries and backers of Hamet, become the hero of the Battle of Derna, which some credit with the final act which pressured the Pasha of Tripoli to sign a peace treaty and surrender the captured sailors from the Philadelphia.
So, though her presence is trivial to the war, the debt Eaton accrued while rescuing her from slavery contributed to his removal from the post of consul which led to his availability for the first US action on foreign soil (and first US attempted coup on foreign soil), the Battle of Derna.
There have been books written about the Barbary Wars, and the actions involved, several of which include:
(This source claims the debt was 34,000, and that Eaton raised 12,000 by selling the Gloria for $7000 and other belongings for $5000, Morris made up difference of $22,000.)
(from 2005,has several pages discussing the Porcile girl, and claim the entire debt amount was 22,000)
A recent book from 2017, details the amounts involved in the $22,000 dollar figure:
- $10,000 for the bribe to the Sapitapa
- $5,000 for the Porcile girl
- $7,000 for the undeliverd cargo on the Anna Maria
- THE UNITED STATES AND
THE BARBARY STATES , An extensive article in the Atlantic Monthly, VOL.
VI.,DECEMBER, 1860., is essentially an overview of the events and includes some good background concerning the attempts at appeasement and Eatons' actions at the time.
There are many US public records which relate information concerning these events, and concerning Eatons' ongoing attempts at getting reimbursement for his expenditures while consul of Tunis:
Published in 1834, this contains many letters concerning Congress and State Department discussion of claims of Eaton concerning expenses he made while in Tunis, including the Porcile girl.