Free Trade and Sailors' Rights in the War of 1812

Free Trade and Sailors' Rights in the War of 1812

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On 2 July 1812, Captain David Porter raised a banner on the USS Essex proclaiming 'a free trade and sailors rights', thus creating a political slogan that explained the War of 1812. Free trade demanded the protection of American commerce, while sailors' rights insisted that the British end the impressment of seamen from American ships. Repeated for decades in Congress and in taverns, the slogan reminds us today that the second war with Great Britain was not a mistake. It was a contest for the ideals of the American Revolution bringing together both the high culture of the Enlightenment to establish a new political economy and the low culture of the common folk to assert the equality of humankind. Understanding the War of 1812 and the motto that came to explain it - free trade and sailors' rights - allows us to better comprehend the origins of the American more

Product details

  • Electronic book text
  • Cambridge University Press (Virtual Publishing)
  • Cambridge, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 24 b/w illus.
  • 1139177265
  • 9781139177269

Review quote

'Gilje skilfully analyzes Anglo-American diplomacy over impressment and neutral rights. Unlike most other accounts of the War of 1812, he traces the roots of these issues back to the colonial period and also explains how these issues fared in the aftermath of the conflict. The major contribution to scholarship, however, is the reconstruction of the multiple meanings of 'free trade' and the explanation of the significance of impressment for early America's national identity.' Reviews in History 'Gilje's book is a valuable contribution and a substantial achievement.' Matthew Taylor Raffety, William and Mary Quarterly '... one of the best of many books recently published to mark the bicentennial of the War of 1812.' Brian Rouleau, Register of the Kentucky Historical Society '... I would recommend the book to anyone interested in the maritime and ideological dimensions of the war as well as anyone interested in connections between the colonial and early national periods in US history.' Christopher P. Magra, The New England Quarterly 'This work deserves a central place on bookshelves devoted to the nation's second war with Great Britain. All students interested in the origins of the War of 1812 and its aftermath will profit from it.' Donald R. Hickey, The Journal of American History '... Gilje's ambition is admirable. He has rescued the forgotten phrase that gave meaning to America's original forgotten war.' Denver Brunsman, Journal of Interdisciplinary History '[Gilje] poignantly shows that, to Americans in the postrevolutionary period, free trade and sailors' rights symbolized the success of the American Revolution and that they therefore interpreted their violation by Great Britain as an attack on their democratic aspirations.' Jasper M. Trautsch, Amerikastudien/American Studiesshow more

Table of contents

Part I. Free Trade: 1. The Enlightenment and defining free trade; 2. The revolutionary experience; 3. The new diplomacy; 4. Legacy; Part II. Sailors' Rights: 5. Anglo-American traditions; 6. The rise of Jack Tar; 7. Impressment; 8. Citizenship; 9. The Hermione and the rights of man; Part III. Origins: 10. Empire of liberty; 11. Indians in the way; 12. Contested commerce; 13. The ordeal of Jack Tar; 14. Honor; Part IV. War: 15. The odyssey of the Essex; 16. The language of combat; 17. Politics of war; 18. Pursuit of peace; 19. Dartmoor; Part V. Memory: 20. Winning the peace; 21. Remembering impressment; 22. The persistent dream; 23. Politics; 24. Popular culture; 25. more

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