|Naval history of Great Britain
||Leopard and Chesapeake
British ships of war from entering the ports of the United States, Mr. Jefferson says : " This enormity was not only without provocation or justifiable cause, but was committed with the avowed purpose of taking by force, from a ship of war of the United States, a part of her crew ; and, that no circumstance might be wanting to mark its character, it had been previously ascertained that the seamen demanded were natives of the United States. " The assertion here made about the want of provocation, or of justifiable cause, is in the usual strain of American invective, where the British are the accused. Not so if the French offend ; for, as a Boston newspaper informs us, when in the summer of the same year 1807, the United States' sloop of war Hornet lay in the port of Lorient, a French officer and a party of men went on board, and seized and carried off five Frenchmen, naturalized citizens of the United States, and who had been several years in the American naval service ; but not a murmur was heard on the subject.
The statement respecting the birthplace of " the seamen demanded " is, and was probably meant to be, equivocal. If it refers to the " three men demanded at Washington, " the assertion may be true ; but, if to the whole of the deserters demanded of Commodore Barron, it is not so. The officers of the Leopard, we must own, would have given a fairer colour to the transaction ; they would, indeed, have deprived the American president of the power of dwelling, with any effect, upon its " enormity, " had they left the Melampus's three men where they found them, and taken an equal number, or the whole if they pleased, of the 12 British subjects, also composing a part of the crew of the Chesapeake, and, to strengthen the former's claim upon them, also deserters from British ships of war.
All four of the recovered seamen, namely, the one belonging to the Halifax and the three to the Melampus, were tried at Halifax, Nova-Scotia, on the 26th of August, 1807. Jenkin Ratford was found guilty of mutiny, desertion, and contempt, and hanged at the fore yard-arm of the Halifax, the ship from which he had deserted. The three remaining prisoners were also found guilty of desertion, and sentenced to receive each 500 lashes ; but the men were afterwards pardoned.
The account of the attack upon the Chesapeake reached London on the 26th of July ; and on the 2d of August, before any demand for redress had been made by the American minister in London, the British government caused to be conveyed to the latter, a disavowal of the right to search ships in the national service of any state for deserters, and a promise of suitable reparation for the unauthorized act of the British officer. On the 6th Mr. Munroe transmitted to his government the note of Mr. Secretary Canning ; and on the same or the following day arrived American newspapers, with Mr. Jefferson's interdictory proclamation. Encouraged by the proclamation, the citizens of
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