Sunday, June 10, 2018

Press gangs

To man the fleets, the same Parliament which talked so much of the "fundamental rights of Englishmen" and the "sanctity of private property time and again authorized impressment, which was virtual kidnapping. Sailors in the merchant marine, looking forward to shore leave after a long voyage, would often find themselves taken off for naval service before they reached land. The men of the coast towns were always on guard against the press gangs which made sailors, willy-nilly, out of anyone upon whom they could lay their hands. Once caught in this way, the poor devils often had to remain in naval service until disability released them.

(from A History of England and the British Empire)

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