There were several important factors that lead to the war between Britain and the United States. In this essay, we will explore three of them. The first issue was the impressment of United States seamen into the Royal Navy. Second, was a series of trade restrictions enacted by Britain to impede American trade with France. And third, a possible desire of the United States to annex Canada.
The Royal Navy was the largest navy in the world. In order to provide enough manpower to run its ships, the Royal Navy was permitted to follow a policy of impressment, which allowed them to draft into service any male British citizen. Between 1803 and 1812, anywhere from 5,000 and 9,000 American sailors were forced into the Royal Navy. Many American seamen had been born in Britain and became naturalized citizens. So even though the law restricted impressed soldiers to British citizens, it was loosely interpreted. Tensions were further heightened in Europe regarding Britain and France’s behavior on neutral trade. Napoleon issued the Berlin Decree in November 1806 and also instituted the Constitutional System which made all trade with Britain illegal. In response to Napoleon, London issued the Orders in Council on November 11, 1807, which closed European ports to trade and required foreign shops to pay customs duties in order to enter them. Napoleon responded again. He issued the Milan Decree only a month later, which declared that all ships who follow Britain’s rules would be seen as British property and would then be seized. This resulted in American ships becoming prey for both sides. On December 25, 1807, Jefferson implemented the Embargo Act. Jefferson hoped to end the threat to American vessels while not supplying Brain or France with American goods. This act unfortunately failed to achieve his goal. The Embargo Act was replaced with the Non-Intercourse Act in December 1809, which still failed. Finally in 1810, the final revision was made which removed all embargos, but...
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