The Richard Affair: Rising Tensions Between the United States and the United Kingdom, 1806

By Leo Hershkowitz, published August 2014


In 1806 an American merchant seaman was killed by a shot from the British warship HMS Leander which was trying to enforce its right to stop and search for contraband goods. This relatively minor incident is little remembered in history but at the time attracted the attention of King George III, his ministers, President Thomas Jefferson, other American government officials, and impacted on the national political scene. The captain of Leander was acquitted by an Admiralty Court in the UK, but convicted, in his absence, by a court in the US. The incident had political consequences locally as well as nationally. It became the centre of furious debate in the US as to which party, Democratic or Federalist, was better able to protect the country. It also increased tensions between the two countries which ultimately led to war in 1812.

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Filed under: Atlantic | War of 1812
Subjects include: Administration | Manpower & Life at Sea | Strategy & Diplomacy

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