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The War of 1812 - In the Publics Eyes Throughout the years of 1803 to 1812 the people of the United States were pushed over the edge and were forced to retaliate against the antagonistic Britain simply because of their ignorance toward the United States growing power Great Britain tried to preserve its naval strength by impressing thousands of seamen from US vessels including naturalized Americans of British origin claiming that they were either deserters or British subjects The United States defended its right to naturalize foreigners and challenged the British practice of impressments on the high seas Relations between the two nations reached a breaking point in 1807 when the British frigate Leopard fired on the USS Chesapeake in American territorial waters and removed and later executed four crewmen In addition Britain issued orders to blockade the coastlines of the Napoleonic Empire and then seize vessels bound for Europe that did not first call at a British port Napoleon retaliated with a similar system of blockades under the Berlin and Milan decrees confiscating vessels and cargos in European ports if they had first stopped in Britain Collectively both empires seized nearly 1500 American vessels between 1803 and 1812 thus posing the problem of whether the United States should go to war to defend its neutral rights Americans at first prepared to respond with economic intimidation rather than war At the urging of Thomas Jefferson Congress passed the Embargo Act of 1807 prohibiting all US ships from putting to sea In 1810 a bill was introduced that reopened American trade with all nations but stipulated that if one belligerent repealed its anti-neutral measures the United States would then impose a prohibition against the other In August Napoleon announced the repeal of the Berlin and Milan constrains with the understanding that the United States would also force Britain to respect its neutral rights Although Napoleon continued to seize American vessels in French ports
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