What was "impressment" in US history?

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pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

Impressment was something that was done by the British but which had a major impact on American history.  Impressment was the British practice of taking private sailors from British ships or sea ports and forcing them to join the Royal Navy.  

In the time after the US became independent, the British continued to impress sailors from American ships.  This showed that the British continued to think that Americans were subjects of Britain.  The British felt that they could treat American ships and sailors as if they were British.  This practice helped to lead to the War of 1812 between the US and Britain.

Yojana_Thapa's profile pic

Yojana_Thapa | Student, Grade 10 | (Level 1) Valedictorian

Posted on

British policy of impressment was a kind of forced enlistment. The British impressed American sailors into the British navy because they needed more men. The Chesapeake incident involved the flagrant use of impressment. This was one cause of the war of 1812.

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