Free Trade and Sailors' Rights in the War of 1812
On July 2, 1812, Captain David Porter raised a banner on the USS Essex proclaiming "A free trade and sailors rights," thus creating a political slogan that explained the War of 1812. Free trade demanded the protection of American commerce, while sailors' rights insisted that the British end the impressment of seamen from American ships. Repeated for decades in Congress and in taverns, the slogan reminds us today that our second war with Great Britain was not a mistake. It was a contest for the ideals of the American Revolution bringing together both the high culture of the Enlightenment to establish a new political economy and the low culture of the common folk to assert the equality of humankind. Understanding the War of 1812 and the motto that came to explain it - free trade and sailors' rights - allows us to better comprehend the origins of the American nation.
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PART ONE FREE TRADE
PART TWO SAILORS RIGHTS
PART THREE ORIGINS
The Language of Combat 21 5
Politics of War
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Advertiser American Revolution American seamen American ships American State Papers April August Baltimore banner battle became believed Boston Britain British navy British ships Captain captured Castlereagh citizens claimed colonies Columbian commerce conﬂict crew Dartmoor Dartmoor Prison declared defend Democratic diplomacy diplomatic Embargo England Essex February Federalists ﬁght ﬁghting ﬁrst ﬂag Foreign Relations France free trade French Gallatin Gazette Ghent Gilje honor ibid impressment independence Indians issue Jack Tar James January Jay Treaty John John Quincy Adams Journal July June liberty Madison March maritime Massachusetts merchants Monroe nation Native Americans naval negotiations neutral rights newspapers North October Ofﬁce ofﬁcers ofﬁcials orders in council Patriot peace Philadelphia phrase political Porter Porter’s motto ports President press gang prisoners protect Quasi War reciprocity Republic Republicans Revolutionary Sailors Rights Salem September slogan sought tariff Thomas Jefferson trade and sailors Treaty of Ghent United University Press vessels victory Washington West Indies York