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"Records About Impressed Seamen, 1793-1814" Topic


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Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP16 Oct 2018 10:22 p.m. PST

"From the end of the American Revolution until the conclusion of the War of 1812, the U.S. Government was concerned with British impressment of seamen on American ships and with the repatriation of men thus impressed. (In some cases seamen were also impressed by French and Spanish naval officers). An act of May 28, 1796 (1 Stat. 477), authorized the President to appoint agents at foreign ports who were charged with the following duties:

… to inquire into the situation of such American citizens or others, sailing, conformably to the law of nations, under the protection of the American flag, [who are] impressed or detained by any foreign power, to endeavour, by all legal means, to obtain the release of such American citizens or others….

In order for the U.S. Government to obtain "full and speedy information" on impressments, the act also provided that, if the impressment occurred within a foreign port, masters of U.S. ships were to "make a protest" to the American consul. If the impressment occurred on the high seas, it was to be reported to the collector of customs at the first U.S. port at which the vessel arrived. These officials were required to periodically report to the Secretary of State "an account of such impressments or detentions, as shall appear, by the protests of the masters, to have taken place." Vessel masters were further required by the act to transmit a copy of the protest directly to the Secretary of State. The protest was required to state:…"
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