350 Years of Impressment of Sailors by the English Empire; Was it a form of Slavery?
What the hemp is Going Round?
Lt. Panton, removes his sword and asks to be shown the captain’s cabin. This is a symbol that he was not going to impress. Four seamen hide in a secret hole that was not visible from below deck. They are eventually discovered from the above deck and a stand-off ensues with swords and sabers probing the hidden hole. Corbett draws a line in salt on the lower deck and tells Panton based on trial testimony that : “ 'If you step over that line, I shall consider it as a proof that you are determined to impress me, and by the eternal God of Heaven, you are a dead man.' '
Learn how this initial confrontation escalates the conflict between similar legal systems and leads to the Boston Massacre.
Click here for the 350 year history of British impressment law.
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Private Riley's Debt
Private Riley is dragged out of the Boston court by his fellow soldiers led by Captain Charles Fordyce to avoid indenture. His choices were to pay the fine of 26 pounds, a large amount, go to jail (gaol) or be indentured to the plaintiff for three years. Not a good choice unless indenture was a rue for desertion. Constable Peter Barbour tried to take Riley into custody as neither Riley or his fellow soldiers had ready cash to pay the fine. Other soldiers arrived, swords were drawn and civilians joined in and some minor wounds resulted. Riley is freed by his mates but the House of Representatives reviews the mater and orders a new trial. The trial was postponed a number of times for lack of Riley. The more dramatic event of March 5, 1770, the Boston Massacre, made the issue irrelevant.
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