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"“Without a press, I have no idea how our Fleet can ..." Topic

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Tango0105 Nov 2020 4:13 p.m. PST

…be manned.".

"A primary cause of the 1812 war between Britain and the U.S. was the British practice of boarding American merchant ships in search of deserters from the Royal Navy. Americans claimed that the British were none too careful about who they removed from the boarded vessels, and that free sailors were impressed into British service along with deserters.

Britain's insistence on pressing sailors into naval service sprang in part from its wars against Napoleon. The number of seaman needed to crew British ships nearly tripled between 1793 and 1812, from 36,000 to 114,000. At the same time, the life of a Royal Navy sailor became steadily more brutal. Facing harsher discipline and more dangerous conditions, as many as 100,000 Royal Navy service members died during that twenty-year period.

Because voluntary enlistments could never satisfy the demand for sailors, the British resorted to the use of press gangs to forcibly place men into service. As many as half of all seamen manning the Royal Navy were impressed. About 10,000 Americans found themselves impressed into service during the Napoleonic Wars. The British argued that the sailors it impressed had escaped from their navy. When Americans protested against the seizures, British authorities justified their practice by arguing that being a British subject took precedence over claims of American citizenship…"
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