Just out of quriosity, what actual documentation can you cite for this statement?
"So was it "unjustified" for the British to reclaim a deserter, for example, because the deserter had a piece of paper said deserter bought for a few bucks from an American consulate somewhere, and when said deserter had never stepped foot in the U.S. and might never step foot in the U.S.? [What is your source of proof that this was actually done?]
"That, of course, is the most "justifiable" action the British took. At least, if not "legally" justifiable under American law, "morally" justifiable by the laws of common sense and fairness. [And just who made the determination that the papers so presented were bogus?]
" Lifting non-deserter Brits off U.S. ships is a little less justifiable. Lifting true Americans off of course can't be justified legally or morally." [But it happened which is the whole point of this discussion.
--- On Tue, 1/31/12, James Yaworsky <yawors1@...> wrote:
From: James Yaworsky <yawors1@...>
Subject: 1812 Re: Impressment and US sovereignty and supposed Brit disrespect of same
Date: Tuesday, January 31, 2012, 10:25 PM
--- In WarOf1812@yahoogroups.com, "usmarine1814" <usmarine1814@...> wrote:
> As opposed to a soldier switching to Iraqi or Afghan citizenship >during the wars, the sailors who were British citizens, and not >American citizens, that were taken from American ships were taken >before a state of war had commenced between the US and the UK.
Colin, I don't believe that whether a state of war existed between the US and the UK was relevant to the issue. British citizens (or to be precise, "subjects") were expected to do their duty. Whenever they came within reach of British authority, they might be called on. And deserting the armed forces is considered a crime in most states, whether the state is at war with anybody else at the time or not. The British *were* at war with France et al, so deserting or shirking in this period of national crisis was even worse in British eyes. The point is, to the British, "switching" citizenship was not an option. Once a British subject, always a British subject...
>Some may and others may not have attained US citizenship by law.
By American law, maybe. By British law - not possible...
>Those who had attained it were, in the eyes of American Law, US >citizens and should be protected as such, despite what British Law >may be.
That's the US position in a nutshell, all right. The British disagreed...
>Of the est. 6000 impressed sailors from American ships, it is >estimated (recalling from the top of my head) that 1,200 to 2,000 >were American citizens by birth or by law. Britain, not respecting >the latter were, even if they had their own interests and reasons, >disrespecting US sovereignty and law.
6,000 trained sailors equals the manpower to man a considerable number of essential warships. Plus, letting British sailors know that if they were found by a British warship, they'd be punished and then "reunited with their countrymen" whether they wanted to be or not might be seen as deterring another 6,000 or whatever trained sailors from deserting in the first place.
Also, the British merchant fleet - still the largest in the world - also needed sailors to function. There was a formula for how many men a Royal Naval vessel could take off a British merchant ship under any given circumstances. I believe (going off the top of my head here) that more men could be taken off a ship heading towards Britain than one just heading off on a long voyage. If I recollect correctly, sailors on ships operated by the East India company were exempt from being "drafted". Because in effect, "impressment" to the British was a primitive form of what we would now call drafting people.
A British sailor couldn't technically "desert" from a British merchant ship, the way he could if he was a member of the crew of a Royal Navy ship. But his presence on one form or the other of Britain's shipping (civilian or military) was considered vital. In effect, a British merchant sailor was sort of preemptively deserting the British cause if he abandoned his British merchant ship and took himself out of any possibility of being impressed by the Royal Navy if needed...
Only American citizens by birth would, under normal British law, be exempt from being taken, because they were obviously not British subjects. So how many of the 1,200 to 2,000 were natural American citizens as opposed to naturalized but British-born citizens?
The U.S. didn't have to abide by British citizenship laws, so why would the British have to abide by American ones?
Who is "disrespecting" who?
Seems a pointless question. Either both are disrespecting the other, or it's not a question of "disrespecting" another nation's laws, when out in international waters, only a question of enforcing one's own. The only way a party could be guilty of breaking "the law" would be if the two nations had a treaty that bound each to mutually agreed-upon conditions. This didn't exist between Britain and the U.S. at this time.
The situation is just like the fact there are some countries that have extradition treaties with others for criminals, and others that don't. A country that doesn't have an extradition treaty with the U.S. is not "disrespecting" American law by refusing to extradite someone who is facing criminal sanctions in the U.S.
They are merely exercising their *own* sovereign rights...
> And while the anglophiles among us may deem the British Actions >during the 1790s and early 1800s as necessary for survival and to >defeat the French, that does not necessarily translate to the need >for Americans, at that time, or now to accept those actions as >justified.
True enough. Just like maybe the government of Pakistan didn't appreciate U.S. Seals violating Pakistani airspace, landing on Pakistani soil, and killing most of the people in the Osama compound. Or U.S. drones flying over the parts of Pakistan that border Afghanistan and sending in guided missiles to kill people that may or may not be "criminals" under Pakistani law.
It might not be legally "justified" to do these things, but is it morally justified to go after terrorists that are using a "neutral" nation to hide out in?
What do you mean by "justified"? Legally? Morally? Practically?
So was it "unjustified" for the British to reclaim a deserter, for example, because the deserter had a piece of paper said deserter bought for a few bucks from an American consulate somewhere, and when said deserter had never stepped foot in the U.S. and might never step foot in the U.S.? That, of course, is the most "justifiable" action the British took. At least, if not "legally" justifiable under American law, "morally" justifiable by the laws of common sense and fairness. Lifting non-deserter Brits off U.S. ships is a little less justifiable. Lifting true Americans off of course can't be justified legally or morally.
The simple fact of the matter is that nobody likes to be pushed around. Many in Pakistan resent what they see as America pushing them around in their own lands. The British resented Confederate agents being taken off a British mail packet. The Spanish resented Napoleon deposing their king and seizing control of all their key fortresses. But pushing around has gone on all through history. It's not always nice, but it's reality.
If Brazil had been independent already and was handing out citizenship cards to British sailors, then the Royal Navy would have been doing to the Brazilian merchant fleet exactly what they did to the American fleet. The British needed sailors - theoretically, their own sailors, in fact - and they were powerful enough to take concrete action to get them back and make them do their duty. As far as I know, deserters, once recaptured, were punished but not strung up etc., even though British law would have allowed such a penalty. They were too valuable and necessary to the fleet, alive and fit!
The U.S. is powerful enough to go in to Pakistan to get terrorists who are hiding out there and there isn't a heck of a lot Pakistan can do about it.
Seems a similar situation to me.
The Spanish were not powerful enough on their own to eject the French and needed the assistance of the Anglo-Portuguese armed forces. It seems they were lucky to find good allies.
There are legal niceties, and there are the realities of the real world. They are not always one and the same.
> If playing the "what if" game....then, what if a country today >seized 1,200 to 2,000 lawful citizens of our respective countries >today. Say Iran seized 2,000 Canadian Citizens (some of them maybe >recent Iranian immigrants that obtained citizenship) Many of us >would be calling for some sort of action, possibly military, >especially after years of failed diplomatic and economic attempts to >deter the offending nation's actions.
Canada allows for dual citizenship, so we undoubtedly have "Canadians" who are also still officially, even in Canada, recognized as also being Iranian citizens. If these persons go to Iran, then they, as Iranian citizens, are subject to Iranian law just like any other Iranian would be and while the Canadian government might press the Iranians diplomatically to go easy on said dual citizens in any given scenario, ultimately, the Iranians would be within their rights to do what they feel is best with "their" citizens. When these persons are in Canada, they are of course subject to Canadian law. When they are anywhere else, it seems they can choose who they are on any given day. Quite confusing, n'est cafe?
But when an Iranian citizen is in Iran, they naturally are expected to obey Iranian law.
The official British position in 1812 was that the people they were seizing off American ships were British subjects. They were found by official British naval vessels on the high seas, so that was that.
But what to do when the Iranians seize our citizens who are not Iranian? Or the British seize persons the Americans maintain are Americans?
This doesn't have to be a theoretical question as regards Iran.
The Iranians seized quite a few American diplomats when they had their revolution and attacked the American embassy. This was additionally against international law as the persons seized were protected by diplomatic immunity - a worse case situation than the Brits taking sailors who they maintained were British subjects off American ships pre-1812.
So what happened? Well, theoretically, the injured nation can bitch and complain. We saw how far this got the U.S. with the Brits pre-1812, and with Iran with the embassy hostages.
Next step is to put on economic sanctions. The U.S. tried this in pre-1812 and succeeded mostly in ticking off the New England states. Didn't work with Iran either.
Next step is military. Easier said than done. The hostages in Iran couldn't be rescued and the impressed Americans on British ships weren't rescued by anything done by U.S. forces unless they happened to be serving on a ship captured by an American naval vessel or privateer. The British government never changed its position on impressment, despite the actions of the U.S. in declaring war in 1812.
The British bitched and complained in the Trent affair. For a number of reasons, the bitching paid off in that one. Surely, an important part of the success of the protest was a desire on the part of the U.S. to keep the British from recognizing the Confederacy, or even as a worst-case scenario, declaring war on the U.S. In this case, the nature of the situation was such that the threat of British power was potent enough to get them the redress they demanded.
If the U.S. had been ruthless enough to start carpet-bombing Iranian cities one by one until the U.S. embassy hostages were released, maybe the Iranians would have quickly knuckled under. Of course, maybe the Iranians would have instead decided to shoot one American for each Iranian city bombed.
Lots of ifs. One thing's for sure - saving face is a big part of these scenarios. Escalation of a minor dispute in to something much bigger is always a possibility.
I do find it interesting that the part of the U.S. most opposed to declaring war in 1812 was New England - the states with most of the U.S.-based shipping activity. The ones that one would think were being most adversely affected by British impressment policies hence be howling for redress the loudest. Maybe they were either worried about getting their shipping shut down by the Royal Navy in the event of a war (which of course is exactly what happened), or maybe they recognized that there was some justification in the British position. Maybe both.
> Just thinking
> C Murphy
> USS CON 1812 MG
Thinking is good!
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