french

Impressment

Further Reading

Impressment:
An American Perspective

Napoleonic Wars: A British/Canadian Perspective

 



A British/Canadian Perspective

Sea power was Britain's pride and glory, and it was imperative to its defense. In the early 1800s, Britain was engaged in a life-and-death struggle with the Napoleonic Empire, and the Royal Navy was the only thing that prevented Napoleon from crossing the Channel and conquering Britain.

Despite the navy's acute need for sailing crews, thousands of British seamen chose to jump ship in favour of a more comfortable and profitable position with the American merchant marine.

Wartime necessity justified the recapture of "deserters" from any ship. Even deserters who had adopted the American nationality were not immune from seizure as the Royal Navy adhered to a principle of inalienable British citizenship. Besides, American citizenship certificates were frequently assumed to be forged.