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Encyclopedia > Impressment
Look up Impressment in
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Impressment (colloquially, "press-ganging") is the act of conscripting people to serve in the military or navy. It was used by the Royal Navy during the 18th century and early 19th century in time of war as a means of crewing warships, although legal sanction for the practice goes back to the time of King Edward I. The Royal Navy impressed many British merchant sailors, as well as some sailors from other nations. People liable to impressment were eligible men of seafaring habits between the ages of 18 and 55 years, though very rarely non-seamen were impressed as well. If they believed that they were impressed unfairly, pressed men were able to submit appeals to the Admiralty, and those appeals were often successful. It is also important to note that the navy had little interest in impressing people who were not ordinary or able seamen, since they would be of no use on board a ship. Wikipedia does not have an article with this exact name. ... Wiktionary is a multilingual, Web-based project to create a free content dictionary, available in over 150 languages. ... The Royal Navy of the United Kingdom is the oldest of the British armed services (and is therefore the Senior Service). ... Diagrams of first and third rate warships, England, 1728 Cyclopaedia. ... Edward I (17 June 1239 – 7 July 1307), popularly known as Longshanks because of his 6 foot 2 inch (1. ... Seaman can be a generic term for sailor. ... Old Admiralty House, Whitehall, London, Thomas Ripley, architect, 1723-26, was not admired by his contemporaries and earned him some scathing couplets from Alexander Pope The Admiralty was historically the authority in the United Kingdom responsible for the command of the Royal Navy. ... Ordinary Seaman is the lowest normal grade of sailor. ... In the Royal Navy in the middle of the 18th century, the term Able Seaman referred to a seaman with at least two years experience at sea. ...

Contents

Recruiting and desertion

Working and living conditions for the average sailor in the Royal Navy in the middle of the 18th century, though harsh by modern standards, were generally better than conditions on British merchant ships (and often better than conditions on land for the poor), but pay was normally lower. The main problem with recruiting, though, was a simple lack of qualified seamen at time of war, when it was necessary to launch many additional warships — privateers, the navy, and the merchant marine all competed for a small pool of ordinary and able seamen in wartime, and all three groups were usually short-handed. Impressment sometimes forced sailors to serve on navy ships when they did not want to, but on the other hand, it also gave them an exit from their engagement with merchant ships, with full back-salary paid by the merchant. A privateer was a private ship (or its captain) authorized by a countrys government to attack and seize cargo from another countrys ships. ...


All three groups also dealt with high levels of desertion, as seamen moved about frequently looking for the best deal and most comfortable working conditions. In the middle of the 18th century, desertion rates on naval ships were about the same for volunteers and pressed men, starting high, then falling heavily after a few months onboard a ship, and generally becoming negligible after a year — navy pay ran months or years in arrears, and desertion might mean not only abandoning companions in the ships company, but also the loss of a large amount of money already earned (though authorities were sometimes lenient on this point). If a navy ship had taken a prize, a deserting seaman would also forfeit his share of the prize money. Arrears, or arrearages is a legal term for the type of debt accrued after missing an expected payment. ... Rules of Prize Warfare defines a set of rules for taking vessels during war that were originally laid down in the days of sailing ships. ...


The Impress Service and impressment at sea

The Impress Service was formed to force sailors to serve on naval vessels (there was no concept of joining the navy for non-officers at the time), based legally on the power of the King to call men to military service, as well as to recruit volunteers (who were paid a bounty upon joining, unlike pressed men). The Royal Navy also impressed seamen from inbound British merchant ships at sea, though this was done by individual warships rather than the Impress Service. Impressment, particularly press gangs, were consistently unpopular with the British public (as well as the American colonies), and local officials often acted against them, to the point of imprisoning officers from the Impressment Service or opposing them by force of arms. It is important to note, though, that about half of the seamen the Impressment Service brought in were volunteers, not pressed men (though some might have volunteered to make the best of a bad situation, avoiding impressment and collecting the volunteer bounty), and that popular captains and other naval officers were often petitioned by sailors to be allowed to join their ships' companies.


Impressment was usually abandoned in peacetime, since there was a surplus of seamen available and willing to work in the navy, and merchant ship salaries usually fell, making them a less attractive alternative.


Conflict with the United States

In the late 1700s and early 1800s, particularly after the American Revolution and French Revolution, the Royal Navy aggressively reclaimed British deserters on board ships of other nations, both by halting and searching merchant ships, and in many cases, by searching American port cities. The Royal Navy did not recognize naturalized American citizenship, treating anyone born a British subject as "British" — as a result, the Royal Navy impressed over 6,000 sailors during the early 1800s who were claimed as American citizens as well as British subjects. This was one of several factors leading to the War of 1812 in North America. John Trumbulls Declaration of Independence, showing the five-man committee in charge of drafting the Declaration in 1776 as it presents its work to the Second Continental Congress The American Revolution was a political movement during the last half of the 18th century that resulted in the creation of... The French Revolution (1789–1799/1804) was a vital period in the history of France and Europe as a whole. ... Combatants United States Native Americans Great Britain, Canadian provincial forces Native Americans First Nations Peoples Commanders James Madison Winfield Scott Andrew Jackson Sir Isaac Brock† George Prevost Tecumseh† Strength •U.S. Regular Army: 35,800 •Rangers: 3,049 •Militia: 458,463* •US Navy & US Marines: (at start of war): •Frigates...


In 1794, the Jay Treaty was ratified by Congress. The treaty, negotiated with the UK by John Jay, defused a situation that could have led to war. However, the treaty neglected to address British impressment of American sailors, which caused many American citizens to disapprove greatly. This controversy helped bring about the rise of political parties in the US. The Treaty The Jay Treaty between the United States and Great Britain averted war, solved many issues left over from the Revolution, and opened ten years of peaceful trade in the midst of a large war. ... Congress in Joint Session. ... John Jay (December 12, 1745 – May 17, 1829) was an American politician, statesman, revolutionary, diplomat, writer, and a jurist. ... A political party is a political organization subscribing to a certain ideology or formed around very special issues. ... Motto: (Out Of Many, One) (traditional) In God We Trust (1956 to date) Anthem: The Star-Spangled Banner Capital Washington D.C. Largest city New York City None at federal level (English de facto) Government Federal constitutional republic  - President George Walker Bush (R)  - Vice President Dick Cheney (R) Independence from...


End of impressment

British impressment ended in practice after 1814, at the end of the Napoleonic Wars — the Royal Navy fought no major naval actions again until World War I, a century later, when conscription was used for all the military services. The last law concerning impressment was passed in 1835, and limited the length of service of a pressed man to five years and added the provison that a man could not be pressed twice. The various laws authorising impressment have not been repealed. Combatants Allies: Austria[1] Portugal Prussia[1] Russia[2] Spain[3] Sweden United Kingdom[4] French Empire Holland Kingdom of Italy Kingdom of Naples Duchy of Warsaw Bavaria[5] Saxony[6] Denmark [7] Commanders Archduke Charles Prince Schwarzenberg Karl Mack von Leiberich Gebhard von Blücher Duke of Brunswick Prince... Combatants Allied Powers: British Empire France Italy Russia United States Central Powers: Austria-Hungary Bulgaria Germany Ottoman Empire Commanders Ferdinand Foch Georges Clemenceau Joseph Joffre Victor Emmanuel III Luigi Cadorna Armando Diaz Nicholas II Aleksei Brusilov Herbert Henry Asquith Douglas Haig John Jellicoe Woodrow Wilson John Pershing Wilhelm II Paul...


See also

In the Royal Navy in the middle of the 18th century, the term Able Seaman referred to a seaman with at least two years experience at sea. ... Ordinary Seaman is the lowest normal grade of sailor. ... Shanghaiing was the act of forcibly conscripting someone to serve a term working on a ship, usually after having been rendered senseless by alcohol, drugs or a sharp blow to the head . ... Łapanka (literally Catching game) was a nick-name applied to the German policy in occupied Poland during World War II. In łapankas the forces of SS, Wehrmacht and Gestapo rounded up civilians on the streets of Polish cities and took all of them as prisoners. ...

External links

  • The Impress Service, article on "press gangs" in British ports, charged with impressing sailors into the Navy
  • Pressed Men: example of impressment of HMS Pandora crew in 1790

References

  • N.A.M. Roger. The Wooden World: An Anatomy of the Georgian Navy. W.W. Norton and Company, 1986.

  Results from FactBites:
 
Impressment - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (774 words)
Impressment (colloquially, "press-ganging") is the act of conscripting people to serve as sailors.
Impressment sometimes forced sailors to serve on navy ships when they did not want to, but on the other hand, it also gave them an exit from their engagement with merchant ships, with full back-salary paid by the merchant.
Impressment, particularly press gangs, were consistently unpopular with the British public (as well as the American colonies), and local officials often acted against them, to the point of imprisoning officers from the Impressment Service or opposing them by force of arms.
Impressment - LoveToKnow 1911 (1509 words)
IMPRESSMENT, the name given in English to the exercise of the authority of the state to "press" 1 or compel the service of the subject for the defence of the realm.
In England impressment may be looked upon as an erratic, and often oppressive, way of enforcing the common obligation to serve in "the host" or in the posse comitatus (power of the county).
If compulsory service in the fleet should again become necessary it will not be in the form of the old system of impressment, which left the sailor subject to compulsory service from the age of eighteen to fifty-five, and flooded the navy with the scum of the jails and the workhouse.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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