Prelude to the War of 1812

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Admiral Berkeley's Orders to Search the Chesapeake

"By the hon. George Cranfield Berkeley, Vice Admiral of the White, and commander in chief of his majesty's ships and vessels, employed in the river St. Lawrence, along the coast of Nova Scotia, the Island of St. Johns and Cape Breton, the Bay of Funday, and at and about the Island of Bermuda, or Somers Island.

Whereas many seamen, subjects of his Britannick Majesty, and in his majesty's ship and vessels, as per margin,* while at anchor in the Chesapeake, deserted and entered on board the US frigate Chesapeake, and openly paraded in the streets of Norfolk, in sight of their officers, under the American flag, protected by the magistrates of the town, and the recruiting officer belonging to the above mentioned American frigate, which magistrates and naval officer refused giving them up, although demanded by his Britannick Majesty's consul, as well as the captains of the ships from which the said men deserted.

The Captains and commanders of his majesty's ships and vessels under my command, are therefore, hereby required and directed, in case of meeting with the American frigate Chesapeake, at sea, and without the limits of the U. States, to shew to the captain of her, this order, and to require to search his ship for the deserters from the above mentioned ships, and to proceed and search for the same; and if a similar demand shall be made by the American, he is to be permitted to search for any deserters from their service, according to the custom and usage of civilized nations, on terms of amity with each other.

Given under my hand, at Halifax, Nova-Scotia, the 1st day of June, 1807.

G. C. Berkeley

To the respective captains and commanders of his majesty's ships and vessels on the North American Station.

*HMS Bellisle
HMS Bellona
HMS Triumph
HMS Chichester
HMS Halifax
HMS Zenobia

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Messages Exchanged between the Chesapeake and the Leopard, June 22, 1807

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