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impressment, forcible enrollment of recruits for military duty. Before the establishment of conscription, 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 Chesapeake) 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).

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References in periodicals archive ?
Giles in April 1813, to say that impressment was "not an American practice" but was "utterly repugnant to our Constitution and laws," an opinion Ingersoll was sure the President and his cabinet would have known.
Madison lists the grievances about the impressments of sailors, the old canard that Britain was instigating hostilities by the Indians, and British restrictions on trade.
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.
But just as the emphasis on the British practice of impressment and the Redcoats' illegal outposts on U.S.
If the public navy were large enough, it could also increase the cost of labor for privateers either directly by bidding up wages or indirectly through impressment, as in the case of the Royal Navy, so that merchants had to pay their crews higher wages to compensate for the risk of being impressed.
The book describes military "impressment squads" which descended on a village like the naval press gangs of yesteryear to round up all the horses.
Butler's book describes military "impressment squads", which descended on a village like the naval press gangs of yesteryear to round up all the horses.
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.