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  • 1. Appeals to the Admiralty: Viewing Impressment as a Microcosm of Anglo-American Relationsat the turn of the Nineteenth century Dissertation Submitted by Candidate 5923711 September 2008 Department of International History1

2. MA History of International Relations London School of Economics and Political Science American independence ushered in an era of haphazard interaction between GreatBritain and the United States as they navigated the uncharted waters of their post-colonialrelationship. The formal dissolution of the colonial bond left many issues unclear orunaddressed. Riding the wave of its recent emancipation, the United States questioned GreatBritain over its maritime practices and pressed for recognition of American trade rights.Great Britain had not only lost a colony rich in natural resources and commercial enterprise,but also gained a serious challenger to its near-hegemony in overseas trade. At a time whenBritain faced both war and economic blockade with Napoleonic Europe, maintaining itsmaritime supremacylong the source of its wealth and defensewas essential for survival. Great Britains global trade, colonial commitments and wartime engagements alloverstretched the Royal Navy at the start of the nineteenth century. Short on manpower, theBritish employed a policy by which they targeted men with seafaring experience and forciblycoerced them into joining the navy, a practice known as impressment. The Royal Navyused impressment at least as early as Queen Annes reign beginning in the mid-seventeenthcentury, but the practice intensified during the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Warsbecause of the extreme need for seamen.1 Seafaring required highly specialized skills thatcould only be acquired through time and experience, and even the offer of bounty uponenlistment did not persuade enough volunteers to endure the Royal Navys notoriously harsh1Perkins, Bradford. Prologue to War (Berkeley, 1968) p.87; Another lesser-known act alsopassed under Queen Anne, stated that those born in the American colonies were exempt fromimpressment. Mahan, Alfred Thayer. Sea Power in its Relations to the War of 1812 (London,1905) p.322 3. conditions.2 To make up for the deficit, press gangs roamed British port towns at homeand in the colonies with permission to seek and press into service any man with seafaringexperience. The British soon expanded the practice beyond domestic territory to the highseas where the Royal Navy began stopping American merchant ships to retake Britishdeserters, invariably impressing American citizens as well. The British populace largely accepted the practice of impressment as bothimperatively required and easily justified in defense of the country.3 Parliament reinforcedthe practice through favorable legislation, and there is no record of the policy of impressmentbeing challenged in court. 4 However, the United States vehemently objected to the practiceand responded by creating an administrative system to provide documentation of citizenshipto American seamen and an appeals process for those impressed. This did little to end thetension, and disagreements over impressment only fueled a broader commercial and maritimeimpasse that ultimately led to the War of 1812.5 Contemporary observers and historians give very different estimates of the numberof seamen who were affected by impressment. Incomplete data, inaccuracies in recordingas well as the tendency of both sides to doctor the figures for political purposes make itdifficult to determine the amount of British deserters in the American merchant marine aswell as the number of impressed American seamen in the Royal Navy.6 From 1796 to 1812there were at least 106,757 documented seamen in the United States.7 The British estimated2 Perkins, Prologue, p.863 Perkins, Prologue, p. 874 Zimmerman, James Fulton. Impressment of American Seamen (New York, 1925) p.135 For treatment of the causes of the War of 1812 see, e.g., Horsman, Reginald. The Causes ofthe War of 1812 (Philadelphia, 1962); Brown, Roger Hamilton. The Republic in Peril (NewYork, 1964)6 For a discussion of the various estimates regarding desertion and impressment seeZimmerman, p.259-275; Perkins, p.90-937 Zimmerman, p.2723 4. that 20,000 of their native seamen were employed in American merchant ships, while theUnited States estimated that 15,000 Americans were in the service of the Royal Navy. 8Despite discrepancies in the data, it can be assumed that at least 3,800 and as many as 10,000American seamen were impressed during this period, although most historians agree that thetotal was most likely around 6,500.9This paper explores the impressment of American seamen by the Royal Navy during theFrench Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars (c. 1793) to the War of 1812. Existinghistoriography addresses the diplomatic negotiations between British and American ministersduring this period.10 This paper instead examines a relatively unexplored aspect of the issue:the appeals process by which impressed Americans petitioned the Admiralty for release.Section One sets impressment within the wider Anglo-American military, economic andsocio-political milieu of this period. Section Two outlines the American response toimpressments, highlighting measures to protect seamen and provide recourse for thoseimpressed. Section Three depicts the Admiraltys response to applications made byAmericans for discharge, including the evidence required and decisions reached. Theconclusion demonstrates how probing into the intricacies of impressment reveals a complexweb of factors that colored early Anglo-American relations.Section One: Anglo-American Military, Economic and Socio-political RelationsI. Military Relations8 Ibid., p.275, 1429 Perkins, Prologue, p.91-9210 For treatment of diplomatic negotiations see, e.g., Bemis, Samuel Flagg. A DiplomaticHistory of the United States (New York, 1965); Stagg, J.C.A. Mr. Madisons War: Politics,Diplomacy and Warfare in the Early American Republic, 1783-1830 (Princeton, 1983)4 5. The primacy of Britains relationship with young America was quickly eclipsed by theemergence of post-Revolutionary French aggression, particularly under Napoleon. GreatBritain went to war with France in 1793, dedicating a substantial amount of its time,manpower, wealth and military to the conflict that raged across Europe and its colonies. 11British naval victories at Cape St. Vincent in 1797 and the Nile in 1798 highlighted Britainsmaritime supremacy in the face of French expansion and reinforced Britains commitment tonaval warfare. The defeat of the Spanish and French fleets at Trafalgar in 1805 conclusivelyquashed the threat of invasion and French victory at sea. Nonetheless, as Napoleons controlof Europe became more complete, the British felt extraordinary pressure to maintain the fightand saw the Royal Navy [as] the sole remaining obstacle between the Emperor of Franceand universal dominion. 12As mentioned, at a time of desperate need the Royal Navy suffered from a shortage of men. 13Low pay, poor living conditions, corporal punishment and the threat of violent death in warled to high levels of desertion. 14 Meanwhile, the rapid growth of the American merchantmarine created a demand for seamen in the United States, where pay and conditions weresubstantially better. 15 Fearing that American merchant ships would be a sanctuary forfugitives or an asylum forrunaway seamen, the British began vigorously pursuingdeserters by stopping American merchant ships to check the citizenship of those on board.1611 For treatment of the Napoleonic Wars see, e.g., Chandler, David G. Campaigns ofNapoleon (London, 1966); Esdaile, Charles. Napoleons Wars: an International History,1803-1815 (London, 2007)12 Steel, Anthony, Impressment in the Monroe-Pinkney Negotiation, 1806-1807 TheAmerican Historical Review, Vol. 57, No. 2 (January 1952) p.36313 Horsman, p.2614 Bad conditions in the Royal Navy spurred multiple mutinies in 1797. Kennedy, Paul M.The Rise and Fall of British Naval Mastery (London, 1976) p. 12815 American merchant ships paid seaman as much as one hundred percent more than theRoyal Navy. Zimmerman, p. 2716 Perkins, Prologue, p.885 6. What the British viewed as an expedient measure for its defense, the United Statesconsidered an affront to its national rights.II. Economic RelationsBuilding on colonial commercial linkages Anglo-American trade significantly increased afterAmerican independence. The United States provided foodstuffs and cotton to Great Britainand Great Britain supplied manufactured goods to the United States. Indeed, a third of allBritish exports went to the United States, while Britain purchased some 44 percent ofAmerican exports.17 The United States benefited from Britains preoccupation with war withFrance, and American trade expanded dramatically.18 The United States could build shipsfaster and cheaper than the British and compensated for its lack of manpower by offeringhigher wages to lure seamen from Britain.19 Commercial interdependence made tradeagreements necessary, but the budding maritime rivalry made them difficult to reach. 20While the United States advocated free trade, Great Britain remained fiercely protective of itsmonopoly on the carrying trade, that is, the maritime transport of goods to Britain and itscolonies. The United States challenged Britains mercantilist policies embodied in theNavigation Acts, which had been specifically designed in the mid seventeenth century tocreate an optimal environment for British trade.21 Negotiations on trade were furthercomplicated when the Napoleonic Wars resulted in a European trade war that restricted the17 Ibid., p.24-2618 For example, by 1805 the United States had become Europes primary supplier of sugar,one of the worlds most lucrative goods. Smith, T.C. Wars Between England and America(New York, 1914) p.19119 Zimmerman, p. 2720 The United States and Great Britain signed the Jay Treaty in 1794, which opened theBritish East Indies and India to American trade. While it was an important first step innormalizing Anglo-American trade relations, it did little to address the larger maritime issuesbetween them. Perkins, Bradford. The First Rapprochement (Philadelphia, 1955) p.521 Horsman, p.336 7. American merchant marines ability to carry certain cargo and dock at various portsthroughout Europe. After Trafalgar, it became clear that France could neither invade Britain nor defeatit at sea, so Napoleon sought to cripple it economically. Napoleons Berlin Decree in 1806and Milan Decree in 1807 deprived Great Britain of European trade by prohibiting Britishships from docking at French or French-controlled ports. The British retaliated with theOrders of Council in 1807, which prevented French and allied European ships from dockingat British or British-controlled ports, as well as blockaded French and allied European portsfrom neutral shipping. This economic warfare severely curtailed American neutral tradebecause American ships that docked in British ports would be bannedif they made itpast the British blockadefrom French or French-controlled ports and vice versa. Theseconstraints also applied to goods with regard to their country of origin and destination. Inresponse to the trade wars, the United States enacted the Embargo of 1807 and the milderNon-intercourse Act in 1809, which closed American ports to both French and British ships.Poorly conceived, the American legislation decimated American commerce but did nothingto lift British or French restrictions on American vessels.22 As Britain remained its primarytrading partner and retained dominance in maritime affairs, the United States directed itsprotestations toward London.23 Invariably American complaints over the Orders in Councilincluded objections to Britains impressment of American seamen.22 Ibid., p.14223 The United States also objected to the British Rule of 1756, where Britain would nottrade with a neutral country who was also trading with its enemy. British infringements onneutral shipping had been challenged before with limited success in 1780 (and revived in1800) by a group of European nations, led by Russia in the League of Armed Neutrality.Kennedy, p.1127 8. The British were unresponsive to American complaints over trade because of thefundamental convictionthat the welfare of the navy, the one defense of the empire,depended upon maintaining the carrying trade, with the right of impressment from it.24Indeed, the British may have viewed impressment as both a military necessity and aneconomic advantage: in 1793, Phineas Bond, a British consul to the United States, advisedLord Grenville, the British Foreign Secretary, that impressment would prevent the UnitedStates from taking over the carrying trade while Britain was occupied with war with France. 25Bond prophesied that tho only an infant now the United States would outpace Britain intrade and manufacturing particularly if it retained access to Britains seamen. 26 It is difficultto overstate the toll this would have taken on the British given the interconnectedness of itstrade wealth and military ability: the war with Napoleon, including funds given to allies,ultimately drained a total of 1.657 billion pounds.27III. Socio-Political Relations The socio-political situation between the United States and Britain also had asignificant influence on the debate over impressment. Because of the intimacy of theircolonial relationship, the United States and Great Britain shared many socio-politicalfoundations. However the two countries had very different roles on the world stage. TheUnited States was a young nation, lacking international experience and political clout. Thecentral government was formed in 1789 from a blend of ideological convictions; however, itsactions and authority were undermined by infighting between the political factions of the24 Mahan, p.10125 Neel, Joanne Loewe. Phineas Bond: a Study in Anglo-American Relations, 1786-1812(Philadelphia, 1968) p.9526 Ibid., p.15127 Kennedy, p.1398 9. Federalists and Republicans, especially with regard to foreign policy.28 The Federalists hadlong supported closer ties with Great Britain, and, under the presidency of John Adams (1797-1801), they built up the army and navy and engaged in naval skirmishes with the French overtrade in the West Indies.29 In contrast, the Republicans favored neutral ties with both GreatBritain and France in an effort to protect and promote American commerce.30 Upon comingto power in 1801, the Republicans cut funding and downsized what little military and navalreserves the Federalists had created during Adams administration. Indeed, PresidentThomas Jefferson saw no need for the navy at all since he believed that European nationswould enter into treaties with the United States based on the universal desirability of globaltrade.31 While the Federalists were more willing to acknowledge Britains need and right topursue naval deserters, both the Federalists and Republicans agreed that the impressment ofAmerican seamen was harmful to American commerce and a clear indication that GreatBritain did not fully recognize its sovereignty.32 Great Britain, on the other hand, had both stability at home and a strong record ofinternational leadership and maritime preeminence. British administrations such as theTory government under William Pitt (Prime Minister from 1783-1801; 1804-1806) weregenerally friendly toward American commerce. However, they were heavily influenced bythe powerful and vocal shipping industry who viewed the United States as a threat to Britishtrade.33 The British had not encountered a maritime rival since the Dutch in the seventeenth28 For early political history of the United States see e.g., Adams, Henry. History of theUnited States (New York, 1891-1898)29 Perkins, Rapprochement, p.9230 For treatment of Republicanism see e.g., Perkins, Prologue, p.32-6631 Smith, p.18432 Perkins, Prologue, p.8833 Mahan, p.100-1019 10. century and remained unwavering in their adherence to protective policies.34 When theUnited States made claims to rights for neutral shipping, the British felt no need to acquiesceto a former colony that was not only politically insecure, but also lacked the military abilityto back up its demands.35 Washington and London collided over the policy of belligerents toward neutralson the high seas. An international norm allowed belligerents to search neutral ships intheir domestic ports and waters for deserters and enemy goods.36 Problems arose whenBritain extended this policy to cover ships on the high seas, where the Royal Navy stoppedmerchant ships, confiscated cargo and impressed seamen. 37 While the seizure of goodstook an economic toll on the United States, the impressment of Americans struck at deeperissues. Impressment revealed a fundamental disagreement over citizenship. Britain and therest of Europe believed in indefeasible national allegiance and as such did not recognize theAmerican policy of naturalization.38 In 1790, American law required as few as two yearsresidency for naturalization, but in 1802 it increased to five years.39 The official Americanposition maintained that naturalization conferred full rights of citizenship, absolving newcitizens from former obligations. By contrast, the British adhered to a rigid definition ofcitizenship asserting, once a British subject, always a British subject. 40 This difficulty overa question so fundamental to the notion of new statehood brought additional weight to the34 Four Anglo-Dutch wars were fought over maritime issues from the mid-seventeenth to thelate-eighteenth century. Kennedy, p.47-67; 73-7435 Mahan, p.46; Perkins, Prologue, p.9536 Bemis, Samuel Flagg. The London Mission of Thomas Pinckney, 1792-1796 TheAmerican Historical Review Vol. 28, No. 2 (January, 1923) p.24037 Zimmerman, p.19-20; Hitsman, J. Mackay. The Incredible War of 1812: A MilitaryHistory (Toronto, 1966) p.1038 Zimmerman, p.2139 Ibid., p.23; Perkins, Prologue, p.8940 Steel, Anthony. Anthony Merry and the Anglo-American Dispute about Impressment,1803-6 Cambridge Historical Journal Vol. 9, No. 3 (1949) p.33110 11. issue of impressment and hindered wider discussions on maritime issues.In 1806, the special mission of American diplomats, James Monroe and ThomasPinkney, failed when the United States and Britain were unable to agree on a treaty thataddressed both neutral trade and impressment. Indeed President Jefferson refused to sendthe draft treaty to the Senate because it did not include a provision on impressment. 41 In1807, relations reached a new low when the British man-of-war, HMS Leopard fired on anAmerican frigate, the USS Chesapeake, off the coast of Virginia, killing three, woundingeighteen and impressing four suspected deserters. This high-profile clash could have beenswiftly addressed, but it remained unresolved for years because the United States refused toseparate the incident from the wider practice of impressment.42 In 1807, James Madison,then Secretary of State, neatly summarized the American position on impressment: That anofficer from a foreign ship should pronounce any person he pleased, on board an Americanship on the high seas, not to be an American citizen, but a British subject, & carry hisinterested decision on the most important of all questions to a freeman, into execution thespot, is anomalous in principlegrievous in practice andabominable in abuse.43 Thevicissitudes of Anglo-American relations were not only visible in impressment, but alsodictated its course.Section Two: American Responses to Impressment41 Steel, Monroe-Pinkney p.35342 Ibid., p.36643 Perkins, Prologue, p.8911 12. In 1792, Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson wrote to Thomas Pinckney, minister toGreat Britain, and predicted that if France and Great Britain fought, there would be negativerepercussions against the United States from Britains peculiar custom of impressingseamen.44 Given the similarities in appearance, names, language and cultural practicesof both nationalities, there were bound to be mistakes made when trying to distinguishAmerican seamen from British deserters.45 The United States tried to target these issuesproactively, albeit unsuccessfully, to prevent potential misunderstandings.The Act for Relief and Protection of American Seamen With the outbreak of war in Europe in 1793, the impressment of American citizensincreased dramatically. In response, but only after fierce partisan debate, Congress passedthe Act for the Relief and Protection of American Seamen (the Act) on May 28, 1796. 46The Act sought to obtain more accurate information regarding impressment and assist theeffort in securing the release of those impressed. It had three main elements. First, theAct required all American shipmasters to make official statements of incidents involvingimpressment. Second, in an effort to prevent future impressments, the Act called for thefederal government to issue seamen a standard document verifying citizenship. Third, theAct called for the appointment of representatives, including one primary Agent, who wouldact on behalf of American seamen suffering from impressment. While the Act outlined apremise that could have been the basis for a working relationship between the United Statesand Great Britain, it was not strong enough to be a viable solution on its own. Its earlysuccesses were followed by abuses, revealing its limited utility.44 Zimmerman, p.4345 Ibid., p.44-4546 Statute 1:477-78; Perkins, Rapprochement, p.6212 13. I. ProtestsThe Act required the captains of ships whose men had been impressed to makea protest immediately at the next port, whether foreign or domestic. The protest was asworn statement in which shipmasters recounted how their ships were stopped and boardedby the British, who then seized men, often violently and arbitrarily, regardless of whetherthey had proof of citizenship.47 Aside from concerns about the welfare of individualsimpressed, the shipmasters were inconvenienced by the loss of men; in some instances entirecrews were impressed rendering the vessel unable to sail.48 The Act dictated that Congressreceive a copy of every protest, and protests often appeared in American newspapers.Publication influenced public opinion on impressment,49 but the protests do not seem to havebeen used by the American government as evidence of Britains wrongdoing in diplomaticnegotiations or in the applications for release of seamen.50 Thus, protests were all butmeaningless in American efforts to end impressment.II. Customs House ProtectionsDiscussions on identification papers had begun as early as 1790 when GouverneurMorris, an American minister in London, suggested the idea of certificates of citizenshipto be given by . . . courts of America to our seamen.51 In 1793 Phineas Bond, a British47 NARA: RG 59, M1839; See Appendix C for a sample protest.48 Zimmerman, p.3149 Ibid., p.39-42 50 Deeben, John P. Taken on the High Seas: American Seamen Impressment RNational Archives, 1789-1815 New England Ancestors, Vol. 7, No. 4 (Fall 2006) p. 19-2051 Deeben, John P. Maritime Proofs of Citizenship: The Essential Evidence behindSeamens Protection Certificates, 1792-1875 National Genealogical Society Quarterly, Vol.96, No. 2 (June 2008) p.140; Bemis p. 233; Mahan p.11913 14. minister, suggested that American seamen receive certificates from British Consuls in theUnited States upon showing evidence of their citizenship either from church records orwitnesses.52 While both offered similar proposals, they could not agree on who would issuethe certificates of citizenship.The Act formalized what had already been a haphazard practice by some seamen ofprocuring evidence of their citizenship to show if threatened with impressment. Before 1796,seamen could get public officials to notarize a copy of their evidence but, after theintroduction of the Act, seamen were required to register with Customs Houses in Americanports and pay twenty-five cents to obtain a protection certificate before embarking on either aforeign or domestic journey.53 Customs Houses collected duties on cargo, and, as the mainpoint of departure and arrival for merchant vessels, they made a natural choice for thedispersal of protections. To apply for a protection a seaman needed to producedocumentation of his birthplace, usually in the form of copies of birth or baptismal registerssupplied by churches.54 While these records provided the most reliable proof of a seamansbirthplace, the Customs Houses also accepted verbal affirmations of citizenship. Seamenoften brought family members or friends as witnesses to provide affidavits swearing to thevalidity of the seamens claims of citizenship. Customs Houses were required by the Act tokeep records of the protections they granted, especially the date issued and informationincluded. These records proved invaluable when copies were required to obtain dischargefrom the Royal Navy.Customs House Protections (CHPs) were certificates notarized by a CustomsHouse agent that contained the date and place of birth and a physical description of the52 Neel p.9653 Deeben, Maritime Proofs p.14054 See Appendix D for a sample baptismal record.14 15. seaman. 55 Most agents tried to note unique markings such as birthmarks or scars to helpwith recognition. The more detailed the protection, the more likely the seaman would beidentified correctly and the less likely the CHP could be used fraudulently. One particularlycolorful protection describes William Forrest as having multiple crucifixes, Adam and Eve,the tree of knowledge, a mermaid and an anchor drawn with India ink on various partsof his body.56 CHPs were a genuine attempt by the United States to help differentiate theirseamen and thus make the British officers task of pursuing British deserters less open tomistakes and fraud. However, the CHP system proved to be inadequate and subject tonumerous abuses. While no formal agreement was ever reached with the British about theiruse, from 1796 CHPs became the most widely used proof of citizenship, and by 1799 theywere the most effective piece of evidence in applying for release from the Royal Navy. Tofacilitate the system of protests and protections, the United States created new ministerialpositions in Great Britain whose responsibilities were to provide relief and protection forAmerican seamen.III. Agents for American Seamen The final part of the Act called for the presidential appointment of American consulsto various port towns throughout Great Britain with the sole purpose of tending to the needsof American seamen. Until the posting of these consuls, the American Plenipotentiary to theCourt at St. James doubled as the Agent for American seamen.57 As Plenipotentiary, ThomasPinckney (1794-1795) and Rufus King (1796-1803) not only conducted all negotiations withthe Foreign Secretary (including impressment), but also oversaw the initial 401 applications55 See Appendix E for a sample Customs House Protection.56 NARA: RG 59, MLR A1 92857 Zimmerman, p.7915 16. for release made to the governing board of the Royal Navy, the Admiralty.58 When thenumbers of impressed seamen rose, the duties were passed to the newly created role of Agentfor American seamen (the Agent).59 Port town representatives served as the first pointof contact for those who were making protests or seamen who had been impressed. Whileconsuls throughout Europe received complaints of impressment, only the Agent in Londoncould appeal to the British government.60 The creation of the Agents role and the permissionfor him to reside in London showed commitment from both sides to alleviating the problem. Four men served as Agent from 1797 until the start of the War of 1812, and, whilethey were all charged with the same task of securing the release of American seamen, theirexperiences and success rates differed according to the changing international climate.Detailed registers kept by Agents David Lenox and William Lyman are available forreview61, while only some application totals are known for Agents George W. Erving andReuben G. Beasley.62 As war pressures intensified, the number of impressments rose andthe requirements for discharge became stricter. The Agents letters to the Secretary of Stateprovide the best descriptions of the appeals process and the most insight into the politicalclimate at any given time. In the early reports from David Lenox (Agent from 1797 to 1802), he appearsto be convinced that the Admiralty was willing to accept applications if the proofs areclear and the proper documents are included.63 By 1799, however he had become more58 Ibid., p.75; 7959 Ibid., p.71n60 Ibid., p.7161 See Appendix A and B for Abstracts of applications made by David Lenox and WilliamLyman.62 NARA: RG 59, MLR A1 936; RG 59, MLR A1 932; Zimmerman, p.106; 16463 NARA: RG 84, T168, 7: Letter from Lenox to Pickering, 1.3.98; Letter from Lenox toPickering, 5.12.98; Zimmerman, p.7216 17. frustrated with the Admiralty, which had begun to only accept CHPs instead of less formaldocuments. Whereas Lenox used to chastise American seamen for not carrying evidence oftheir citizenship, he then became much more critical of impressment, calling it an evil notlessening in magnitudewhich demands the most prompt and decisive interference of ourgovernment.64 Despite his growing pessimism, Lenox was quite successful as Agent andsecured the discharge of 47 percent of the 2248 applications he submitted.65 In 1801, Lenoxwrote to the Admiralty that since the war had ended with the Peace of Amiens, he expectedall Americans to be discharged regardless of their proof.66 The Admiralty replied that itcould not, because to do so would be productive of the most dangerous consequences to HisMajestys Navy.67 George W. Erving (Agent from 1803 to mid-1805) had a much more difficulttime in office and his reports revealed his frustration with the Admiralty, who he accusedof playing games to avoid the release of Americans.68 During his appointment, at a timewhen Britain feared invasion, the number of impressments increased and the rate at which theAdmiralty granted discharges slowed. Under Erving 273 seamen were reportedly released,which was only about a fifth of the applications he made.69 William Lyman (Agent from mid-1805 to1810) was much more vocal in his disapproval of impressment which can beattributed to the fervor surrounding the Chesapeake-Leopard Affair. He insisted, The timehas come to claim and insist on their redress and prevention of this badge of inferiority andsubmission too degrading longer to be bourne [sic].70 In 1807 Lyman reported that 3,79164 NARA: RG 84, T168, 8: Letter from Lenox to Pickering, 7.4.00; Zimmerman, p.73-7465 Perkins, Rapprochement, p.66; Zimmerman, p. 7566 NA: ADM 1/3852: Lenox to Nepean 23.10.0167 NA: ADM 1/3852: Nepean to Lenox 26.10.0168 Zimmerman, p.10869 Ibid., p.10670 Ibid., p.14117 18. American seamen were impressed during his term and at least 1,016 were discharged orordered to be discharged.71 By the time Reuben G. Beasley (Agent from 1810 - until war in1812) arrived, the Admiralty was extremely strict as it claimed that too many CHPs wereobtained fraudulently. He accused the Admiralty of becoming more arbitrary and irregular inits decisionsaccepting a set of documents in one case but rejecting similar ones inanother.72 The results of the 802 applications Beasley made in 1811 are not known.73 TheAgents spearheaded the American governments efforts to secure the release of its impressedcitizens and attended to applications with dutiful attention and perseverance. Nevertheless,they remained at the mercy of the vacillations of the Admiralty.Applications for ReleaseI. Application Process The application process was usually started by the impressed seamen himself whowould send a letter explaining his plight from on board a British man-of-war. Seamenoften had no idea who to turn to first; in some instances a seaman wrote home to familymembersoften for the first time in yearsimploring them to take action on his behalf.The seamen did so without knowing whether the letters would be received as they couldbe intercepted, lost en route or sent to someone who had moved or died. Others addressedtheir letters to the President, Secretary of State or Agent in London. In one such letter,seaman Henry Conway addressed President Jefferson and Congress with Now Gentlemen Ihumbly submit to your consideration if I am still to be inslaved [sic] or thus deprived of that71 Ibid., p.16472 Zimmerman, p.16773 Ibid., p.16418 19. purchased by the blood of my forefathers and relations and that which I hourly pant after.74Assuming the letter reached the government official and a reply also made its way back (atenuous proposition given the state of international mail and the difficulties in reaching a shipat sea), the seaman was then informed that he must furnish proof of his citizenship before anapplication could be made to the Admiralty. For each seaman there could be an exchange of numerous letters in an attemptto procure appropriate evidence from the right sources. When the documents were forwardedto London, the Agent then submitted a request for the seamans release to the Admiralty,often transmit[ting] herewith copies of sundry documents relating to impressed seamen. 75When an application contained sufficient documentation, the Admiralty ordinarily arrived attheir decision and informed the Agent promptly; according to Lenoxs registers, theAdmiralty usually responded within a week of receiving an application. For example, in thecase of one James Driskell, his letter informing Lenox of his impressment was dated 31January 1799, his application was made on 7 February and the Admiralty replied with hisdischarge on 26 February.76 Other applications took much longer when the Admiralty had toinvestigate the case and contact ships to enquire after seamen. The Agents kept meticulousrecords noting the date the application was made and to whom, the name of the seaman, theAmerican ship and captain from whence he was impressed, the British ship and captainwhere he was currently held, the date and place of the impressment, the evidence submittedto the Admiralty and the result of his application.77 Starting in 1799, the Agents wererequired to submit abstracts of impressed seamen compiled from these registers to Congress74 NARA: RG 59, MLR A1 928: Letter from Conway to Jefferson and Congress, 10.10.0875 NARA: RG 59, M78: Letter from Lenox to Nepean, 21.3.0176 NARA: RG 59, MLR A1 93677 Most entries only included a few of these records; See Appendix F for a sample page of aregister.19 20. through the Secretary of State.78 From the abstracts, the American government was able tograsp the scope of the impressment problem and assess the level of success met by theAgents in applying for the release of impressed Americans.As a foreign minister, Lenox was initially required to correspond with the British ForeignOffice but he secured the right to contact the Admiralty directly from Foreign Secretary LordGrenville in 1797.79 This was seen as a huge gain by the Americans and also showed aneffort by the British to expedite the process. Agents would exchange letters with theSecretary of the Admiralty, who acted as a middleman between the Agent and the Lords ofthe Admiralty who actually made the decisions. Lenox and the Secretary of the Admiralty,Evan Nepean (Secretary from 1795-1804), worked together for five years during which theybuilt a polite rapport, suggesting cordiality that extended beyond the requirements of theirrespective positions. 80 Little was known then or now about the actual assessment of theevidence by the Lords of the Admiralty. The records that exist merely report the decision ofthe Admiralty to the Agent without offering insight into the actual decision-making process. 81Erving reportedly received no reply when he requested definite information as to thegrounds on which seamen were impressed, nor did the Admiralty set specific guidelines asto what it considered acceptable evidence.82 This ambiguity afforded the Admiralty asignificant amount of flexibility in decision-making since it was not bound to any specificpolicy, but it was extremely frustrating for the Americans Agents who could not predict withany regularity whether the evidence provided would be accepted.78 Deeben, High Seas p.2079 NARA: RG 84, T168, 7: Letter from Lenox to Pickering, 12.6.97; Perkins,Rapprochement, p.6580 Perkins, Rapprochement, p.6581 NARA: RG 59, MLR A1 93482 Zimmerman, p.10720 21. II. EvidenceA seaman applying for release had the burden of proof to produce sufficient evidence toconvince the Admiralty that he was indeed American. Although the American governmentdid not raise the issue, it could be argued that the burden should have been on the side of theBritish who instigated the act of impressing the seaman. Procuring evidence of citizenshipwas often difficult, especially when an impressed seaman attempted to make his case whileon board a British man-of-war. Some British officers prevented the seamen from sendingletters and others physically blocked them from seeking the help of consuls when docked inBritish or foreign ports.83 Those who were able appeared in person at the various consulateswhere they could swear an oath that they were American and receive a written protectionfrom the American representative. Until 1799, this increased the chance that the seamanwould be released. However after 1799, when protections from consuls such as James Mauryin Liverpool were presented to the Admiralty as evidence, they were deemed insufficient andalmost never accepted. This was a particular blow to the authority of the American consuls.The British believed that consuls were too lenient when determining whether a seamanqualified for protection, thus allowing some British deserters to obtain protection. As earlyas 1796, Foreign Secretary Lord Grenville asked Rufus King, the American minister,to notify to the Consuls that they are in the future to abstain from a proceeding which farexceeds the limits of their office[and is] an actinjurious to the authority of the Kingsgovernment.8483 Ibid., p.11284 Perkins, Rapprochement, p.6321 22. When impressed seamen could not appear in person, they were responsible forensuring that any documentation that could verify their citizenship was sent to the Agent inLondon so that an official application could be made on their behalf. Before the CHP systembecame standardized, seamen who needed to produce evidence of their citizenship wereencouraged by the Agents to look to their hometowns for help.85 While clear requirementswere never outlined by the Admiralty, it was much more lenient in the types of evidenceit accepted before 1799. Copies of parish records of births and baptisms usually sufficed,but seamen achieved better results when their family and friends provided affidavits. 86In these testimonies, made before a notary, the deposed was duly sworn in and thenprovided information about their relationship to the seaman, particularly the length of theirrelationship, a physical description of the seaman and by what authority they could attest tohis citizenship.The Secretary of State was an active participant in the appeals process and oftenhelped seamen and their families locate evidence. Receipt records show that the Secretaryof States office purchased advertising space in newspapers calling upon the families ofimpressed seamen to obtain and send to his office any available evidence.87 When passingthe documents onto the Agent in London, the Secretary of State often included his ownstatement and signature confirming the validity of the claims made in the body of evidence.In the case of one Allen Baker, a copy of his CHP, a letter from the Customs House agentin Boston and three affidavits from his family were forwarded to London along with a letterfrom the Secretary of State and Agent Lyman and were deemed sufficient by the Admiralty. 8885 NARA: RG 84, T168, 7: Letter Lenox to Pickering, 1.3.9886 See Appendix G for a sample affidavit.87 NARA: RG 59, M1839: New York Customs House receipt, 16.4.0788 NARA: RG 59, MLR A1 92822 23. If additional evidence became available, a seaman could make multipleapplications. However, there is nothing to suggest that multiple applications increased thechances for release; rather each was assessed individually and the decision was based onwhether or not the new evidence met the Admiraltys current standards. For example, in thecase of one John Richards, Agent Lenox applied on 1 October 1798 with Richards letter of27 September and on 5 November the Admiralty wrote he was not on board the ship stated.Lenoxs second application of 14 November 1798 included Richards letter of 9 Novemberand a certificate of citizenship and on 19 November the Admiralty replied again that he wasnot on the ship specified. The third application was made on 24 November with Richardsown letter from the 21 November and after he appeared in person (to whom is unclear), theAdmiralty then ordered his discharge on 26 November.89 The number of duplicate orrenewed applications varied greatly; for instance, they made up around 20 percent of totalapplications for each quarter in 1801 and only five percent in 1806. Duplicate applicationswere itemized in the abstracts, but since they were included in the total applications for eachquarter they have caused discrepancies in estimates of the total number of impressedAmericans.90III. Weaknesses of the Administrative SystemThose who were critical of the Act for the Relief and Protection of American Seamen in 1796correctly identified that its protection system was weak and left too many areas open to fraud.89NARA: RG 59, MLR A1 93690NARA: RG 59, MLR A1 936; RG 59, MLR A1 932; Perkins disagrees with Zimmermansassessment that duplicate applications were unimportant. Perkins, Prologue, p.91n23 24. The abuses of the system emerged in 1798, worsened in 1803-1805 and had almostcompletely crippled the appeals process by the outbreak of war in 1812. Each countryaccused the other of wrongdoing and each was guilty: American agents and British seamenfraudulently provided and obtained CHPs; some British officers ignored protections; and theAdmiralty treated CHPs with increasing suspicion and arbitrariness to serve their interests.Abuses occurred at every stage until they had completely undermined the system. When seamen applied for protections, there were cases when affidavits wereprovided by less than trustworthy sources: seamen for fellow seamen or seamens wiveswho were more likely to be the seamans local girlfriend in the port.91 In one case, theCustoms House in New Orleans issued a protection to one William Lionnet on 23 April 1804based on the testimony of Gaspard Debuys, a Frenchman who would give his oath ofallegiance to the United States a month later. The following day, William Lionnet gave theexact same testimony in support of another seaman, Jean Gaugac.92 While all three seamenmay have previously known each other, occasions such as these were a bit too convenient tobe believable and supported the British claim that CHPs were given too freely. The laxregulations in the evidence required by some Customs Houses and consuls aroused theAdmiraltys suspicion of all CHPs. As early as 1797, Robert Liston, the British minister inthe United States, conveyed the Admiraltys complaint to Secretary of State Pickering thatthe American consul in Portugal in particular was issuing protections to anyone willing topay.93 It is unclear why some consuls were willing to give CHPs so freely, but it canprobably be attributed to bribery, incompetence and residual anti-British sentiment.91 Deeben, Maritime Proofs p.14592 Deeben, Maritime Proofs p.143-14493 NARA: RG 84, T168, 7: Letter from Liston to Pickering, 16.12.9724 25. Seamen often lost their protections due to conditions at sea or simple carelessness. WilliamLindsay claimed his CHP fell out of his pocket enclosed in a tin box, which sank into thesea.94 In the event of a lost CHP, the issuing Customs House could be contacted for aduplicate. Customs House agents were instructed to keep detailed ledgers of the protectionsthey issued for precisely this reason. Many were legitimately lost, but there is also evidencethat protections were frequently bought and sold on the black market.95 The Admiraltycomplained that CHPs issued in duplicate and triplicate increased the chance of abuse.Consequently, they tightened their standards so that if there was any discrepancy in theprotection (particularly if the seaman holding the protection did not answer to the descriptionon the protection) it was refused. The United States also accused the British of wrongdoing. Some seamen complainedthat upon presenting British officers with their protections, the documents were taken ordestroyed. Henry Conway, an American seaman, reported that he gave his protection toCaptain Coglin of HMS Bernard who examined it. According to Conway, Coglin said, itwas a very good one, he then tore it and hove it overboard.96 Lyman noted that some Britishofficers would record false names for the impressed Americans in the ships register so thatthey could not be correctly identified when applications for release were made. 97 Ervingblamed the Admiralty for having invented games to discredit protections and accused themof bribing seamen to testify that they had received their protections fraudulently.98 In onesuch case, the Admiralty claimed to have the voluntary testimony of one James Daniels whoswore he was a British native who served on an American merchant ship, and that before94 Deeben Maritime Proofs p.14395 Zimmerman, p.16596 NARA: RG 59, MLR A1 928: Letter from Conway to Jefferson and Congress, 10.10.0897 Zimmerman, p.14298 Ibid., p.10825 26. leaving Wilmington, South Carolina for Montego Bay, Jamaica, the shipmaster went ashoreand returned with four CHPs and assured the British seamen that they would be protected asAmerican citizens.99The use of CHPs by American seamen and the acceptance of them by the Admiralty assufficient proof of citizenship and grounds for release marked the closest the two countriesever reached to an understanding or compromise. The abuse of the protections system byboth Americans and the British undermined CHPs as a proof of citizenship and caused theAdmiralty to question their authenticity. The Act of 1796 was an important first step inproviding some sort of protection for American seamen, but it was not strong enough towithstand the pressures it would experience. The United States failed to support it withstronger measures but neither did Great Britain suggest any amendments that would allaytheir doubts. In addition to other factors, the flawed protection system played a key role ininfluencing the Admiraltys responses to applications for release.Section Three: The Admiraltys Responses to Applications Throughout the entire era the Admiralty maintained that they sought only toretrieve native British deserters and viewed the impressment of Americans as a regrettablebut negligible side effect.100 In February 1803, Admiral Nelson reported that as many as42,000 British seamen had deserted, representing a significant loss to the Royal Navy.101According to records, however, only 400 applications for discharge were refused because theseamen were found to be British natives, which spoke to the wider futility of impressment as99 NARA: RG 59, M50: Affidavit of James Daniels, 9.6.96100 Perkins, Rapprochement, p.60101 Ibid., p.6126 27. a means of recovering deserters.102 In an attempt to curb mistakes and abuses, Robert Liston,British minister to the United States, wrote to British captains and, suggested theproprietyof forbearance and moderation, andexhorted our officers to adopt the maximthat it is better that the guilty should escape than that the innocent should suffer. 103 Britishofficers, however, had little incentive to avoid impressing Americans since many of theirships had a legitimate need for men and the Admiralty rarely took any action against officersaccused of wrongful impressment. Wartime demands put immense pressure on theAdmiralty causing Lord Holland, a British diplomat, to comment in 1806 that, theatmosphere of the Admiralty made those who breathed it shudder at anything likeconcessions to the Americans.104 The Admiraltys overwhelming need to keep the RoyalNavy adequately manned coupled with the increasing unreliability of the protections systemdictated the actions it took when assessing applications. By not identifying clear standardsfor the applications, the Admiralty afforded itself considerable latitude, which sometimesresulted in more expedient decisions. The Admiralty entertained very few proofs ofcitizenship and investigationswere only perfunctory and discontinued on the leastexcuse.105 The Admiralty viewed applications with increasing suspicion and after a periodof relative success during Lenoxs appointment, the American Agents grew more and morefrustrated with the Admiraltys seemingly arbitrary decision-making.I. Successful Applications102 Zimmerman, p.274-275103 Perkins, Rapprochement, p.62104 Horsman p.87105 Bemis, p.23827 28. The Lords of the Admiralty were charged with the management of the Royal Navy,which include the assessment of applications for release.106 The Secretary to the Admiraltyconveyed the Admiraltys decisions to the Agents through a standardized letter.107 Asuccessful application for release resulted in the notification of the seamans discharge ororder to be discharged. Many men remained in the service of the navy for up to a year afterthe order was given for their release, but before they were actually discharged. 108 Somereceived their wages upon discharge and in some instances even prize money.109 Others sankinto destitution as they loitered around the port town consulates waiting to hear from theAdmiralty or after having been discharged but without sufficient funds for passage home.110The American government provided some financial relief for these seamen through theAgents, but the American government never went so far as to demand indemnity from theAdmiralty for the suffering of the American seamen.111II. Unsuccessful Applications Applications to the Admiralty were supposed to contain documented proof ofa seamans citizenship. Therefore, a basic and uncontested reason for rejection was that aseaman had no documents. While it can be assumed that the seaman, the Secretary of Stateand Agent exhausted all possible sources for evidence, most agreed that the refusal to releasebecause of lack of proof was fair. A more contentious reason for rejection was whendocuments were submitted with the approval of the Secretary of State and the Admiralty106 The Admiralty oversaw the expansion of the Royal Navy from 36,000 men in 1792 to120,000 in 1805. Perkins, Prologue, p.85107 See Appendix H for a sample Admiralty response letter.108 Horsman, p.21109 Perkins, Rapprochement, p.66110 NARA: RG 84, T168, 8: Letter from Erving to Nepean, 12.10.02111 Perkins, Rapprochement, p.6628 29. deemed them insufficient. It was viewed as a political affront when the Secretary of Statesubstantiated the claims made in a set of documents and they were then refused. However,after CHPs became standard issue, documents sent by the State Department (usuallyaffidavits of family members and church records) were no longer regularly accepted, so suchrejections usually did not surprise the Agents. Similarly, after first having been accepted,protections issued by American consuls were refused revealing the Admiraltys suspicionsthat both British seamen and American agents were abusing the service with spuriousprotections.112 The rejection of other applications had more to do with the qualities of the seamenthemselves rather than the documents they provided. Some applications were refused evenwhen a seaman produced a CHP because the seaman did not answer to the descriptiongiven on the CHP. In such cases the Admiralty presumably suspected that the CHP belongedto another seaman and had been obtained fraudulently. However, there were legitimateexplanations, such as aging, as to why a seaman did not resemble the description in his CHP.Another reason that the Admiralty would not approve the discharge of an American seamanwas if he married or resided in Great Britaina policy that contradicted the British claimthat national allegiance was non-transferable. Similarly, the Admiralty did not accept anyapplications made by those who claimed to have been naturalized in the United States dueagain to the principle of indefeasible allegiance and also because of the ease with whichnaturalization papers could be obtained in the United States.113 Yet another reason for immediate refusal of an application was if the seaman hadaccepted the Kings bounty, a bonus offered upon enlistment. The British considered112 NARA: RG 59, MLR A1 936113 Zimmerman, p.22-2329 30. accepting the bounty as a willingness to trade service for reward. Some seamen protestedthat they never took the bounty or received it only after being beaten or pressed into servicefor a prolonged period of time. Still others claimed it was forced upon them so as to ensurethat they would not be discharged. Nevertheless, dispersals of bounty were usually loggedin the ships records and could therefore by pointed to by the ships officers as tangibleevidence against return. Similarly, applications were rejected if the Admiralty could showthat the American seamen entered into the service of the Royal Navy by a means other thanimpressment. Americans found on board French privateer ships were held as prisoners ofwar and did not qualify for release. Others were handed over by their American shipmastersto avoid paying their wages or for mutinous or unruly behavior; such was the case of oneJohn Williamson, who said his captain handed him to HMS Leviathan after he drank toomuch of the liquor which made me and the mate quarrel.114 While the Agents were eagerto secure the release of all impressed American seamen, the aforementioned reasons forunsuccessful applications were considered fair, if not favorable.III. Grey AreasThe rationales behind unsuccessful applications were more varied, and in mostcases the Admiralty offered no explanation or evidence of how or why it reached a certainconclusion. Indeed, some applications received no answers whatsoever. The Admiraltyoperated in a grey area between rigid adherence to standards and blatant disregard of proof,which operated afforded it some discretion, resulting in some dubious decisions. Someresponses to applications merely stated that the Lords of the Admiralty do not think it fitto allow these men discharge, although most failed applications were rejected based on the114 Ibid., p.107; NARA: RG 59, MLR A1 928: Letter from Williamson to Gilson, 22.5.0930 31. documents submitted or other discrepancies in the application. 115 The documents acceptedby the Admiralty varied throughout the period, and, although there was some regularity inthe standards, there were numerous examples of arbitrary rejections of evidence that hadotherwise been accepted.116 In some applications, the Admiralty responded that the Lordshave reason to believe he is a subject of His Britannical Majesty and therefore ineligible fordischarge, but offered no explanation as to how it reached such a conclusion that the seamanwas British.117 Other applications were rejected regardless of the evidence supplied becausethe Admiralty found the seamen to be ignorant of the place supposedly from in America. 118How the Admiralty reached such results cannot be discerned, but it must be assumed thatthere was some sort of interview or questionnaire to assess the seamans knowledge ofAmerica. Even when sufficient evidence was produced to bring about an order fordischarge, there often would be problems in locating the seaman and the men-of-war onwhich they served. In some cases, the Admiralty reported that the impressed seaman did notappear to be on board the ships as claimed. This could have been for any number oflegitimate reasons such as desertion, escape or transfer to another ship. However, AgentErving credited some of these missed connections to the British practice of recording falsenames for the impressed men in the ships records.119 In some instances, the man-of-war inquestion would be in a foreign station, such as when one Spencer Hopkins wrote from Limain 1805, and the Admiralty responded with further steps cannot be taken at this time.120115 NARA: RG 59, MLR A1 932116 Zimmerman, p.167117 NARA: RG 59, MLR A1 934: Letter from Nepean to Lenox, 25.4.96118 NARA: RG 59, MLR A1 936119 Zimmerman, p.108120 NARA: RG 59, MLR A1 928: Letter from Hopkins to his mother, 11.6.0531 32. This proved to be a point of contention between the consuls and the Admiralty; the Agentsbelieved that with some effort, the Admiralty could reach the ship, but instead was trying tofind every reason to reject an application to retain a seaman in their service. There is norecord as to whether or not the Admiralty attempted to make contact with the men whoseships were in foreign stations upon their return, or if the Agents followed up on the matters atlater dates. The Admiralty appears to have interpreted ambiguities in the chaoticadministrative system in its favor, often to the disadvantage of impressed seaman.Conclusion Impressment is best viewed as a microcosm of Anglo-American relations at the turnof the nineteenth century. Despite being a relatively esoteric topic and fleeting issue betweenthe United States and Great Britain, impressment is quite importantless for what it wasand more for what it represented. In the short term, impressment did little to harm Americancommerce and only succeeded in reclaiming a fraction of the men the Royal Navy lost todesertion. In the long term, however, impressment embodied the intricacies of post-colonialrelationship between Great Britain and the United States. Most historians have dwelt upon negotiations between the diplomatic elites ofGreat Britain and the United States when examining impressment. However, the course ofimpressment cannot be viewed though any single lens. Rather was intrinsically linked to thewider military, economic and socio-political environment. It was this multidimensionality ofimpressment that hindered progress toward its resolution. Instead of focusing on preexistingapproaches to impressment, this paper delves further into individual cases, narrowing thescope to focus on vignettes that illustrate the complexity of the issue and the myriad of32 33. factors at play.At its heart impressment embodied the complicated post-colonial relationshipbetween the mother country, Great Britain, and its young offspring, the United States.Britain was a leader in the international arena and consequently followed a conservativepath to protect its preeminence in maritime power. However, the upstart United Statesempowered by its growing importance to international trade challenged Britains establishedpredominance, largely through the use of principles and ideals. Uncertain of how to respond,Britain and the United States stumbled through the post-colonial haze with ad hoc processesfor dealing with novel issues such as citizenship and naturalization.The United States also raised issues that had historically questioned Britishnaval practices, chiefly with regard to the rights of neutral trade. Due to commercialinterdependence and colonial bonds, Britain somewhat indulged the United States on tradematters, much more so than any other nation. The United States neutral trade, however,was a double-edged sword that alternately sustained Great Britain and chipped away at itsmonopoly on the carrying trade. Britain was both dependent on trade with the United Statesas source of funding that financed the war with Napoleon but also vulnerable to its loss ofseamen to the American merchant marine.While the United States was at a disadvantage in that it was largely nave aboutthe machinations of the balance of power, Britain was unable to respond because of itspreoccupation with the conflict with France. Napoleon did not beat Britain but he leftit battered. French aggression interrupted Americas coming of age and Great Britainsadjustment to it. At least from Britains point of view, the upheaval in France was influencedby, if not directly related to, American independence. As such, the British held the33 34. Americans somewhat responsible for this disruption of the European status quo.121Adolescent America was new to the international arena and not yet accepted as an equalmember. Drawing from its experience with independence, it was confident in assertinguniversal principles but reluctant with fielding military power. Content with its isolation theUnited States did not enter into an alliance with either Britain or France during theNapoleonic Wars; rather it remained wedded to neutrality and the commercial profit andpeace that accompanied it. This stance was soon betrayed as nave and the United Statessubsequently blundered its way through an ill-conceived response to the European economicwarfare. Domestic partisan infighting revealed American uncertainty about the direction ofits future development. Desiring to stay neutral yet simultaneously determined to take astand in defense of its citizens and sovereignty, the United States fumbled its way throughweak legislation that ended up causing more confusion than clarity. Perhaps as expected,Britain responded to such haphazard American efforts at reaching a compromise over tradeand impressment issues with its own set of seemingly arbitrary responses. The course of Anglo-American interaction over impressment can roughly be dividedinto different periods. In the decade following American independence impressment was anon-issue. Revolutionary France soon came to threaten the predictability of the Europeanancien regime and British comfort was rattled from across the Atlantic and the Channel.Faced with a real need for manpower, Britain vigorously pursued the policy of impressmentwith the outbreak of war in 1793. Cases of impressment spiked in 1796 and 1803 whenBritain felt most vulnerable to invasion and needed to boost its defenses. The Peace ofAmiens brought little solace, and Trafalgar did not bring peace; thus impressment continued.In response, the United States instituted a far-reaching administrative program of protections121 Bemis, London Mission p.23334 35. and appeals to mitigate, if not counteract, British impressment of American seamen. Thisadministrative process soon proved subject to fraud and wide-ranging abuse giving theBritish valid, if not sufficient reasons for discounting it. After a few short years of success,zealous officers, conniving seamen and a suspicious Admiralty rendered the Americanadministrative response impotent. Thus, in spite of winning minor adjustments to the British policy of impressment,America never became satisfied that Britain fully respected its sovereignty as an independentnation. Though a historically brief problem, impressment was representative of a myriad ofgrievances between the two states. A fluid situation that changed constantly, impressmentwas an omnipresent lightning rod for Anglo-American tensions. Ironically, the conclusion ofthe Napoleonic Wars in 1815 eliminated the British need to pursue deserters in the Americanmerchant marine, but not before the United States felt compelled to declare war against GreatBritain over a host of unresolved issues in 1812. In short, while impressment affected onlya small number of people for a relatively brief amount of time, it was nonetheless a very richhuman and historical drama played out on the international stage. Word Count: 9,948 BIBLIOGRAPHYPRIMARY MATERIAL35 36. UnpublishedUnited States National Archives and Records AdministrationRecord Group 59: General Records of the Department of State, 1756-1999M50 Letters from the British Legation in the United StatesM78 Consular Instructions from the Department of State, 1801-1834M1839: Miscellaneous Lists and Papers Regarding Impressed Seamen, 1796-1814MLR A1 928: Letters Received Regarding Impressed Seamen,Compiled 1794 1815MLR A1 929: Correspondence with Collectors of Customs Regarding Impressed Seamen,Compiled 1796 1814MLR A1 931: Quarterly Abstracts of Applications for the Release of Impressed Seamen,Compiled 1797 - 1801MLR A1 932: Quarterly Returns of Impressed Seamen, Compiled 10/1806 - 12/1809MLR A1 933: Abstracts of Quarterly Returns of Impressed Seamen, Compiled 1805 - 1809MLR A1 934: Letters Received from the British Admiralty Office, Compiled 1794 1796MLR A1 935: Index to Register of Applications for the Release of Impressed Seamen,Compiled 1794 - 1797MLR A1 936: Registers of Applications for the Release of Impressed Seamen, Compiled 19 July 1793 - 1 May 1802Record Group 84: Records of the Foreign Service Posts of the Department of State, Compiled 1788-1964T168: Despatches from US Consuls in London, Compiled 1790-1906National Archives of the United KingdomADM 1: Admiralty, and Ministry of Defense, Navy Department: Correspondence and Papers, Compiled 1660-1976SECONDARY SOURCESBooksAdams, Henry The History of the United States Vol.1-9 (New York, 1891-1898)Bemis, Samuel FlaggDiplomatic History of the United States (New York, 1965)Brown, Roger HamiltonThe Republic in Peril (New York, 1964)Chandler, David G. Campaigns of Napoleon (London, 1966)36 37. Esdaile, Charles Napoleons Wars: an InternationalHistory, 1803-1815 (London, 2007)Hitsman, J. MackayThe Incredible War of 1812: A Military History(Toronto, 1966)Horsman, Reginald The Causes of the War of 1812 (Philadelphia, 1962)Kennedy, Paul M.The Rise and Fall of British Naval Mastery (London, 1976)Mahan, Alfred ThayerSea Power in its Relations to the War of 1812, Volume One(London, 1905)Neel, Joanne Loewe Phineas Bond: A Study in Anglo-American Relations, 1786-1812 (Philadelphia, 1968)Perkins, Bradford The First Rapprochement (Philadelphia, 1955)Prologue to War (Berkeley, 1968)Smith. T.C. Wars Between England and America (New York, 1914)Stagg, J.C.A. Mr. Madisons War: Politics, Diplomacy andWarfare in the Early American Republic, 1783-1830(Princeton, 1983)Zimmerman, James Fulton Impressment of American Seamen (New York, 1925)ArticlesBemis, Samuel Flagg The London Mission of ThomasPinckney, 1792-1796 The American Historical Review Vol.28, No. 2 (January 1923)Deeben, John P.Taken on the High Seas: AmericanSeamen Impressment Records at the National Archives, 1789-1815New England Ancestors, Vol. 7, No. 4 (Fall 2006)Maritime Proofs of Citizenship: The Essential Evidencebehind Seamens Protection Certificates, 1792-1875 NationalGenealogical Society Quarterly, Vol. 96, No. 2 (June 2008)Steel, AnthonyAnthony Merry and the Anglo-AmericanDispute about Impressment, 1803-6 Cambridge HistoricalJournal Vol. 9, No. 3 (1949)Impressment in the Monroe-Pinkney Negotiation, 1806-1807The American Historical Review Vol. 57, No. 2 (January 1952)37 38. APPENDIXA. Abstracts of Applications made by David Lenox, 13 December 1797-1 May 1802B. Abstracts of Applications made by William Lyman, 30 September 1805-30 September1810C. Protest made by William Vicary, Master of the JulianaNew York, NY, 13 January 1798D. Baptismal Record of Martin Powers, seamanMiddleton, CT, undatedE. Customs House Protection for Benjamin Lincoln, seaman Boston, MA, 25 July 1804F. Page of Register kept by David Lenox, Agent for American Seamen10-27 August 1800G. Affidavit of Ann Richards, mother of seaman, John RichardsPhiladelphia, PA, 29 April1802H. Letter from Evan Nepean, Secretary to the Admiralty to David Lenox, Agent forAmerican Seamen9 February 179638 39. Abstracts of Applications made by David Lenox, 13 December 1797-1 May 1802Compiled from NARA: RG 59, MLR A1 931 and table from Zimmerman p.262D111251 1 1 11 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 11 3MJ0DJ M J AN J A J O J A J OM DauJea a u uo a p u c a p u ca ernucn r n gv n r l t n r l ty ccel11 c e 11 1 i y 1 1 i y 11 1h1y77 h 1 77 8 l 1 8 8 l 1 88 717199 1 7 99 0 1 8 0 0 1 8 00 979789 7 9 99 0 8 0 0 1 8 0 12 7989 9 90 0 0 18 8 90 1 Or 65 11787919 101012131483131713 igi 11 26 9 5 3 2 0 6 3 nal app lica tio ns Re 21 273 9 9 21286 4124 ne w ed app lica tio ns Un 53 31 28 47 41 31 33453885 61424532121233427 ans * we red Dis77 10 11 12 15 17 9 9 8 35 372239323311214031 cha 19373 rge d Or 30 42 52 64 10 99 5 113948 313331463624397454 de 1 red for dis cha rge De 58 73 10 10 14 17 28222337 412942347833435569 tai3352 ned for wa nt of doc um ent s Re 39 55 66 67 76 93 189 4 22 8 126 8 6 3 4 7 10 cei ved39 40. bo unt y Bri11 15 18 20 28 29 5 10 4 19 65 4 62 6 11 5 tish sub ject s N514 16 20 21 22 4 17 8 824 6 15 6 7 913 ot on shi ps rep res ent ed Ma 2510 11 16 17 3 24 6 963 2 42 2 37 de th eir esc ape N12 2 1 5 3 11 ot an sw eri ng des cri pti on De 4698 2 2 219 2 1 2 tai ned as pri so ner s of wa r Sh 35 31 67 ips on fo rei gn stat ion s Se 11111 nt on bo ard by the40 41. ci vil aut hor ity Ta 9 15 ken by Fre nch (no t in tot al) Ta 4 ken by Du tch (no t in tot al) Pic 8 ked up at sea esc api ng Fre nch Se 3 nt for mu tin ous con duc t De 1 1 1 1 1 2 1 ad Kil 1 led in acti on De 1 tai ned on sh ip on41 42. sus pic ion of M uti ny of He rmi one No 111 or der to lea ve the se rvi ce aft er req ue sti ng my int erf ere nce On 1 bo ard the La Be rtin on da te wh en she fou nde red Tot27 334146 6065 1178 7919 10 10 12 13 14 83 13 17 13 al 66 7 26 11269532 063*These 31 cases were on the 16th of January.Are in the return March 1st and the subsequent abstract. One invalid. One invalid and two on board the foundered La Bertin.Abstracts of Applications made by William Lyman, 30 September 1805 30 September 181042 43. Compiled from NARA: RG 59 MLR A1 933 and table from Zimmerman p. 264-2653 1 11 1 1 1 1 1 1 11 1 11 1 1110 O JJ O J A O J A JO J AJ O JAJS c au c a p c a p uc a pu c apue t nl t n r t n r lt n rl t nrlp - -y - - - - - - y- - -y - --yt 3 3- 3 3 3 3 3 3 -3 3 3- 3 33-1 1 13 1 1 0 1 1 0 31 1 J3 1 1038 D M0 D M J D M J 0D M u0 D MJ00 e aS e a u e a u Se a nS e auS D5 c re c r n c r n ec r ee c rne ate1 1p 1 1 1 1 1 1 p1 1 1p 1 11p of Ab 8 81 8 8 8 8 8 8 18 8 81 8 881 stra 0 08 0 0 0 0 0 0 80 0 08 0 118 ct 5 60 6 7 7 7 8 8 08 9 90 9 001 6 8 9 0 Nu 25262731 323334 m26209807 653648 ber of Ap pli cati ons Or 23252629 313233 igi21261925 076536 nal Ap pli cati ons Of 104 3 10 125 1 5 5 4 12X4 2 wh ich are du pli cat es Di 54294972 5928373931478853 295171 605594 70 sch arg ed and or de red to be dis cha rge d RE FU SE D No 4 1 15 4 8 1 1 5 X2 6 43 5 9 12 32 doc43 44. um ent s Sa 22 4 54 6 1 12 16 16 22 6 X 2 20 31 34 86 30 28 id to be Bri tish Ta 73 13 5 9 ken the Bo unt y Pri1 1 1 so ner s of Wa r Ta 1 1 14 411 913 6 ken out of Pri vat eer M 12 1 1112 2 24211 3 arr ied to En gli sh / Iris h Ac 1 cu sed of Ste ali ng Nat 1 ive of Ca nad a Nat 1 ive of De nm44 45. ark Nat 1 1 2 1 5 5 2 1 ive of W est Ind ies Nat 1 1 1 1 ive of Afr ica Nat 1 1 ive of Sw ede n Nat 1 ive of Pru ssi a Nat 1 ive of Ha no ver Nat 1 ive of Ital y N 1 X 61 2 ot A me ric an Vo 4 4 13 5 3 X 4 10 9 8 4 4 14 lun tee r Im 2 1 41 1 5 1 2 2 pos ters Ig 22 1 1 1 1 4 no ran t of45 46. par t of US sa id to be fro m Mu 3 2 tin ous Co nd uct Iris 1 1 hm an se nt for mi sde me ano r De 1 1 1 fra ud ing the Re ven ue3 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 10 O J J O J A O J A J O J A J O J A JS c a u c a p c a p u c a p u c a p ue t n l t n r t n r l t n r l t n r lp - - y - - - - - - y - - - y - - - yt 3 3 - 3 3 3 3 3 3 - 3 3 3 - 3 3 3 -1 1 1 3 1 1 0 1 1 0 3 1 1 J 3 1 1 0 38 D M 0 D M J D M J 0 D M u 0 D M J 00 e a S e a u e a u S e a n S e a u S D5 c r e c r n c r n e c r e e c r n e ate1 1 p 1 1 1 1 1 1 p 1 1 1 p 1 1 1 p of Ab 8 8 1 8 8 8 8 8 8 1 8 8 8 1 8 8 8 1 stra 0 0 8 0 0 0 0 0 0 8 0 0 0 8 0 1 1 8 ct 5 6 0 6 7 7 7 8 8 0 8 9 9 0 9 0 0 16 8 9 0 IN SU FF ICI EN T EV ID EN CE46 47. Pro10 5 1 7 11 9 11 14 9 7 815 11 15 16 913 11 14 tect ion fro m con sul s Aff64 5 1 3 335 4 665611 3799 ida vit fro m US Aff5 11 2113 ida vit fro m En gla nd Co 92 1 11 913 1 132252 lle cto rs Pro tect ion Do 65 5 3 171 3 1121462610 cu me nt fro m De pt. of Sta te Ad 1 1 1 11 mi ral ty Pro tect ion Ind 1121 ent ure s N3 3 12 2 6 10 7614 12 17 10 913 ot an sw eri ng the des47 48. cri pti on Ke 4 pt by of fic ers w ho im pr ess ed the m Ce 1 rti fic ate of Bir th Pro 4 tec tio ns tak en fro m the m Dis 3 1 1 31 cha rge fro m Ro yal Na vy as A me ric an Cit ize ns N11 4 9 9 7 2 5 9 2 3 7 1 1 3 7 12 12 15 9 ot on sh ip stat ed N 2412 13 ot kn48 49. ow n wh ere or on w hat shi p De 1643 1 44 12 6 76 311 93 67 sert ed Be 2412 11 ing de se rter s or sa id to be des ert ers Att 11 em pt ed to des ert Sh 19 13 36 18 9 2 6 11 8 10 4 12 3 18 14 20 4 30 59 ip on fo rei gn stat ion N11 ot im pre sse d Ap 5 pli cati ons req uir ed do cu me nts ret urn ed49 50. De 1 1 1 1 1 tai ned not kn ow n Un 31156 21319 10 3113 36176 3 2 1 ans we red Inv 1 1 1 1 7/1 1 4 5 4 6 114 103 8 ali d De 1 1 1 1 1 5 ad/ dro wn ed Sh 1 ip lost Sh 1 1 2 1 ip out of co m mis sio n For 1 1 me rly bel on ged to the Ro yal Na vy3 1 1 1 1 11 11 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 10 O J J O JA OJ A J O J A J O J A JS c a u c ap ca p u c a p u c a p ue t n l t nr tn r l t n r l t n r lp - - y - -- -- - y - - - y - - - yt 3 3 - 3 33 33 3 - 3 3 3 - 3 3 3 -1 1 1 3 1 10 11 0 3 1 1 J 3 1 1 0 38 D M 0 D MJ DM J 0 D M u 0 D M J 00 e a S e au ea u S e a n S e a u S D5 c r e c rn cr n e c r e e c r n e ate1 1 p 1 11 11 1 p 1 1 1 p 1 1 1 p of Ab 8 8 1 8 88 88 8 1 8 8 8 1 8 8 8 1 stra 0 0 8 0 00 00 0 8 0 0 0 8 0 1 1 85 6 0 6 77 78 8 0 8 9 9 0 9 0 0 150 51. ct 6 8 9 0 Be 3 2 2 2 ing exc han ged as Bri tish su bje cts fro m ene my pri son s Fr 2 2 8 7 4 6 3 au dul ent pro tect ion s Pro 1 tec tio ns irre gul ar No 2 5 9 1 2 rea son ass ign ed Re 1 fer red to tra nsp ort boa rd Be 3 ing rel eas ed fro m pr iso n at Go51 52. tte nb urg by Bri tish con sul Etc1 .52