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forcible enrollment of recruits for military duty. Before the establishment of conscriptionconscription,
compulsory enrollment of personnel for service in the armed forces. Obligatory service in the armed forces has existed since ancient times in many cultures, including the samurai in Japan, warriors in the Aztec Empire, citizen militiamen in ancient Greece and Rome,
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, many countries supplemented their militia and mercenary troops by impressment. In England, impressment began as early as the Anglo-Saxon period and was used extensively under Elizabeth I, Charles I, and Oliver Cromwell. "Press gangs" forcibly seized and carried individuals into service; frequently subjects of foreign countries were taken. After 1800, England restricted impressment mostly to naval service. The Napoleonic Wars increased English need for sea power and led to the impressment of a large number of deserters, criminals, and British subjects who had become naturalized Americans. (Until 1850, England did not recognize the right of a man to renounce his nationality.) Frequent interception of American ships (see ChesapeakeChesapeake,
U.S. frigate, famous for her role in the Chesapeake affair (June 22, 1807) and for her battle with the H.M.S. Shannon (June 1, 1813). The Chesapeake left Norfolk, Va., for the Mediterranean under the command of James Barron in June, 1807.
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) to impress American citizens was a major cause of the War of 1812. England generally abandoned such forcible measures after 1835. In Prussia, impressment was introduced by Frederick William I after 1713, laying the groundwork for Prussian military power in the 18th cent. It reached its height under Frederick II (Frederick the Great) who made forced recruitment on foreign soil an integral part of the Prussian military system. Impressment was used in many countries as a method of ridding society of undesirables. Persons of property, apprenticed youths, and other respectable citizens were often exempted by law. The system fostered gross abuses and was often a means of private vengeance. It filled the army and navy with a group ready for mutiny, desertion, or other disloyalty, and it adversely affected voluntary recruitment. After 1800 impressment tended to become a means of enforcing conscription, and it fell into disuse after 1850.


See J. R. Hutchinson, The Press-Gang Afloat and Ashore (1914); J. F. Zimmerman, Impressment of American Seamen (1926, repr. 1966).

References in periodicals archive ?
A fellow student later reaffirmed to CBS that age old rule outlined above that getting stuck in walls is a bad way to impress a girl.
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Impress Paving Ltd is renowned for its expertise both across the Huddersfield area and in Yorkshire.
Newspapers have always been trying to do one thing: Impress people from other newspapers.
Impress, which has researched the possibility of doing a publishing business in China since 2003, has concluded that the market will continue to grow in years to come.
As if donning masks, we style our hair, choose our clothes, hone our body language to impress those around us.
IMPRESS is also coordinated by ESA but funded through the Sixth Framework Program for European Research.
CHEEKY Girl Monica Irimia was left itching uncontrollably when she tried to impress Robbie Williams.
DAVID DUNN comes face to face with his former Blackburn teammates in today's FA Cup clash with Birmingham City manager Steve Bruce urging the midfielder ``stop trying too hard to impress and we'll see the best of you''.
The Japanese market for eBooks soared to 1 billion yen in 2002, publishing house Impress Corp.