Injured Honor: The Chesapeake-Leopard Affair, June 22, 1807

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A brief naval engagement off Hampton Roads on June 22, 1807, between the U. S. frigate Chesapeake and the British two-decker Leopard over British deserters had lasting repercussions on U. S. diplomatic relations with Great Britain. This first comprehensive examination of the confrontation - a prelude to the War of 1812 - also demonstrates its profound influence on the fledgling U. S. Navy and on the careers of those involved. The authors recount the details of the incident, which involved the British warship's firing on the unprepared American frigate that resulted in fatalities, and then trace the evolution of a culture of mistrust and antagonism between the two nations that came to a head over British impressment. They describe the frenzied public reactions in both countries and carefully examine Thomas Jefferson's transatlantic diplomacy. This book successfully alloys an international cast of characters that includes James Madison, King George III, Lord Grenville, John Jay, Jefferson, and Napoleon with the personal stories of the American naval officers branded with the stigma of not fighting for their ship. The authors present a fascinating reconstruction of the naval inquiry into the affair, as well as an investigation of the controversial courts-martial of Commodore James Barron and other Chesapeake officers that bitterly divided the officer corps.

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ONE The Encounter
Two The Lion and the Eaglet
THREE Thomas Jefferson and a Changing World

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About the author (1996)

Spencer C. Tucker is a professor of history and holds the John Biggs Chair of Military History at the Virginia Military Institute. A graduate of VMI, he served as a captain in Army Intelligence during 1965-1967. He lives in Lexington, VA.

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