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The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History - 02539 (Page 12)

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The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History - 02539
GLC02539
The impressment of our scanner is an injury of very serious magnitude, which deeply
affects the feelings & the honor of the nation.
This valuable class of men is composd of natives & foreigners who engage voluntarily in
our service.
No right has been asserted to impress the natives of America. Yet they are impressd, they
are dragd on board british ships of war with the evidence of citizenship in their hands, & forcd
by violence there to serve, until conclusive testimonials of their birth can be obtaind. These
must, most generally, be sought for on this side the Atlantic. In the mean time acknowledgd
violence is practicd on a free citizen of the United [26] States, by compeling him to engages, &
to continue in, foreign service. Altho the Lords of the admiralty uniformly direct their discharge
on the production of this testimony, yet many must perish unreleivd, & all are detained a
considerable time in lawless & injurious confinement.
It is the duty as well as the right of a friendly nation to require that measures be taken by
the british government to prevent the continued repetition of such violence by its agents. This
can only be done by punishing & frowning on those who perpetuate it. The meer release of the
injurd, after a long course of service & of suffering, is no compensation for the past, & no
security for the future. It is impossible not to believe, that the decisive interference of the
government in this respect, woud prevent a practice the continence of which must inevitably
produce discord between two nations which ought to be the friends of each other.
Those seamen who, born in a foreign country have been adopted by this, were either the
subjects of Britain or some other power.
The right to impress those who were british subjects has been asserted, & the right to
impress those [27] of every other nation has not been disclaimed.
Neither the one practice nor the other can be justified.
With the naturalization of foreigners, no other nation can interfere further, than the rights
of that other are affected. The rights of Britain are certainly not affected by the naturalization of
other than british subjects. Consequently those persons who, according to our laws, are citizens,
so
must be considerd by Britain, & by every other power not having a conflicting claim to the
person.

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