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Prelude to the War of 1812

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Impressment of American Sailors
The Chesapeake Affair of 1807
American Reaction to the Chesapeake Affair
Entanglement in World Affairs


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

Humphreys's Message to Barron

The captain of his Britannick Majesty's ship Leopard, has the honour to enclose to the captain of the United States' frigate Chesapeake, an order from the hon. vice-admiral Berkeley, commander in chief of his majesty's ships on the North American station, respecting some deserters from ships under his command, and supposed now to be serving as part of the crew of the Chesapeake. The captain of the Leopard will not presume to say anything in addition to what the commander in chief has stated, more than to express a hope that every circumstance respecting them may be adjusted in such a manner, that the harmony subsisting between the two countries, may remain undisturbed.

S. P. Humphreys

His Majesty's Ship Leopard

Barron's Reply to Humphreys

I know of no such men as you describe; the officers that were on the recruiting service for this ship, were particularly instructed by the Government, through me, not to enter any Deserters from his Britannick Majesty's ships; nor do I know of any being here.

I am also instructed, never to permit the crew of any ship that I command, to be mustered by any other but their own officers; it is my disposition to preserve harmony; and I hope this answer to your dispatch will prove satisfactory.


Commander of the US ship Chesapeake

Barron's Note of Surrender to Humphreys

Sir, I consider the Frigate Chesapeake as your prize, and am ready to deliver her to an Officer authorized to receive her--by the return of the boat I shall expect your answer; and have the honor to be

Sir, your most obedient,

Humble servant,


At sea, June 22, 1807.

Humphreys's Response to the Surrender of the Chesapeake

His majesty's ship Leopard, At sea June 22, 1807

Sir, Having to the utmost of my power, fulfilled the instructions of my Commander in Chief, I have nothing more to desire; and must, in consequence, proceed to join the remainder of the Squadron; repeating that I am ready to give you every assistance in my power, and do most sincerely deplore, that any lives should have been lost in the execution of a service, which might have been adjusted more amicably, not only with respect to ourselves, but to the Nations to which we respectively belong.

I have the honour to remain sir,

Your obedient humble servant,

S. P. Humphreys

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The Cruise of the U.S. Fleet under Commodore John Rogers

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