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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 ?
Ironically, the maritime matters were not even mentioned in the treaty, although the defeat and exile of Napoleon in 1814 effectively ended the need for the British blockade of the European coast and the constant demand for competent sailors that drove impressment.
Although historians have long debated this war's origins (see Dudley 2003, 1-2), violation of American neutral rights, in particular the impressment of seamen from U.
In the latter half of the eighteenth century, the writ was used vigorously by judges to open up to scrutiny the practice of both naval and military impressment, and with far less confidence, of slavery.
The longest-serving secretary of the Treasury, Albert Gallatin, administered sanctions against Great Britain in retaliation for impressment of American citizens into the Royal Navy and Britain's military support of Native Americans attacking American settlers moving into the Northwest Territory.
The four western provinces of Pakistan were chafing against their impressment into the One-Unit scheme, by which they became fused together into West Pakistan.
It appears that Adams nonetheless used the constitutional arguments strategically in negotiations with the British to avoid the more sensitive topic of impressment.
33) In 1913 and again in 1915, he complained that the quota of laborers required from his domain was "excessive" and that people were continuing to leave the district to avoid impressment.
Barnes described herself as a "passive spectator" whose only contributions to the Confederacy resulted from impressment laws.
He also gives examples of times in which the Write failed, in cases of slavery and impressment particularly, as well as noting times when it was hindered by local legislation.
221) It is a relatively recent development, because for much of history sovereigns relied on either voluntary enlistment or impressment to staff their armed forces.
This did not mean that the immigrants' passage was easy--during the 1770s and 1780s delays in departure could last up to four weeks, the threats of piracy and the impressment of passengers were well-founded, the Delaware Bay at the zenith of the journey was treacherous and Philadelphia itself was prone to ice up in winter.