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Impressment

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• War of 1812

 

Definition: Forced "recruitment" of sailors into the British Navy. The British Empire was so large by the late 18th Century that the number of sailors needed to staff the ships that sailed around the world was not nearly enough. As a result, the British government decided to "supplement" the Navy with kidnappees. These included Americans, kidnapped from American ships and coastal cities and forced to serve aboard British ships. Nearly 6,000 Americans were impressed in the early 1800s, when Great Britain was at war with Emperor Napoleon of France. Naturally, Americans were outraged about this practice. It finally ended in 1815, with signing of the Treaty of Paris that ended the War of 1812.

Related Resources:

The War of 1812
Find out more about the second war between the United States and Great Britain.

The 19th Century
Get a glimpse of what life was like in the exciting 1800s.

Elsewhere on the Web:
More on Impressment
Learn more about this practice.

Impressment: A British View
Look at the other side of the coin.

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