Chesapeake–Leopard Affair

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ChesapeakeLeopard Affair
Part of the events leading to the War of 1812
Leopardchesapeake.jpg
HMS Leopard (right) fires upon the USS Chesapeake
Date June 22, 1807
Location off Norfolk, Virginia
Result British victory
Participants
 United Kingdom  United States
Commanders and leaders
United Kingdom Salusbury Pryce Humphreys United States James Barron
Strength
1 4th rate 1 frigate
Casualties and losses
none 1 frigate damaged
4 killed
17 wounded
4 captured

The Chesapeake–Leopard Affair was a naval battle that took place off the coast of Norfolk, Virginia on June 22, 1807. The English warship HMS Leopard attacked and boarded the American USS Chesapeake. The British were looking for people who had deserted the Royal Navy. The commander of the American ship surrendered his vessel to the British. When he returned home, he was tried, and had to leave the military.

The Chesapeake–Leopard Affair made many Americans angry. Some of them wanted to go to war with Great Britain, but most people did not. President Thomas Jefferson tried to use the anger to diplomatically threaten the British government into settling the matter. The United States Congress backed away from armed conflict when British diplomats showed that they felt they did nothing wrong in the matter. The diplomats also said that impressment would continue. Jefferson's political failure to solve the problem with Great Britain led him towards economic warfare: the Embargo of 1807.[1]

Further reading[change | change source]

  • Perkins, Bradford. 1968. Embargo: Alternative to War (Chapter 8 from Prologue to War: England and the United States, 1805-1812, University of California Press, 1968) in Essays on the Early Republic 1789-1815. Leonard Levy, Editor. Dryden Press, 1974.

References[change | change source]

  1. Perkins,1968, p. 317–318