Impressment & the American Merchant Marine 1782–1812; an American View

By George Selement, published November 1973


British seamen deserted frequently.  The British navy boarded neutral American ships to recover them and then also seized other nationalities. The British pressed ten times the number that might be British. Less than ten percent of wrongly pressed Americans were released.   The Americans protested but diplomatic negotiations foundered for reasons of British security, American nationalism, divergent definitions of neutral rights, commercial rivalry, and American domestic politics.  The breakdown in negotiations led to war in 1812.  However, no further impressment was carried out subsequently.  A very small American navy succeeded where politicians failed.

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Filed under: Atlantic | War of 1812 | English Channel | Other (Eighteenth C) | Press Gangs
Subjects include: Manpower & Life at Sea | Merchant Marines | Navies | Strategy & Diplomacy

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