The War Of 1812: America Vs. Britain

809 words - 3 pages

The weak ties between the new American nation and the European world toppled over when British and Indian actions made an infringement of American rights and beliefs. Such violations involved illicit impressment of natural born American citizens, attacks and raids on innocent merchant ships, which lead to the Embargo Act, and Indian rebellion against the colonies. Although the Jefferson administration pleaded numerous times to have the British discontinue their unruly and unnecessary actions, the only rational resolution was war.The tension of war first began when British warships impressed hundreds of American seamen illegally. In England, Parliament decided that during a state of emergency, any able-bodied subject would be forced to abandon their own interests and duties to be drafted into the British navy. Usually, a shorthanded commander would port along the Atlantic coast and round up men in the local bars. More than often, the docked vessels would not require any kind of American or other seaman's assistance. The British even went to the extremities of boarding neutral merchant ships to commandeer the new seamen. One particular incident concerned an American captain named Figsby who was stopped twice along his route by British warships. They seized not only most of his cargo and men, but the national flag as well. Once Jefferson heard of this unnecessary impressment, his administration conceded the right of the British to impress any American person from merchant ships. The British refused, saying that once a man was British, they were always British despite naturalization. They also insulted the American government by basically pronouncing that there was no absolute way to terminate the impressment law.The next event to hit the war table was the battle ship incident of 1807. An American 46-gun frigate named the Chesapeake was on Mediterranean patrol duty with a crew of four British deserters from the HMS Halifax along with three illegally impressed Americans. When a British 56-gun vessel approached the Chesapeake and signaled it to stop, Captain James Barron expected only a routine communication check. However, a British officer came aboard to demand all the seamen be returned immediately. Barron refused and soon after, the Leopard opened fire upon the Chesapeake, killing three sailors and wounding the ship. The Jefferson administration stated that this attack was a breach of international law and no vessel from any nation can impress sailors from a warship. Americans began to press for war...

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