A UNIQUE AND HISTORIC ARTIFACT OF THE BRITISH IMPRESSMENT OF AMERICAN SAILORS, ONE OF THE PRINCIPAL GRIEVANCES LEADING TO THE WAR BETWEEN THE UNITED STATES AND GREAT BRITAIN IN 1812.
"Lat. 10. Long 74 [Note: location off the Caribbean coast of South America] on Board the Pethel Sloop of War. I am American Born at Boston aged 26 years. Sailed from New York on Board the Brig Lyon Nov 26, 1805. Nothing Occured worthy of Remark for 14 days after. We lost sight of the Hook when at 6 o'clock in the Evening we was brought to by the above Vessel and after undergoing many Species of Insult myself & three others mainly Frederick Fenton, Simon Alongos & Aaron Stusio, all native Americans were ordered on board which we refused & on so doing was beaten & Kicked into the Boat, was then thrown into Irons for ten days, after which time was brought on Deck & Interrogated if we would enter in his Majesties Service with the Alternative of a good flogging and to live on bread and Water until we should comply with their Imperious mandates, after a short Consultation amongst us we agreed to enter & Embrace the first Opportunity that Occured to free us from the Slavery in which we was involved. Accordingly we Signified our Willingness to become the Tools of the Navy of his Britannic Majesty./Tis impossible to say any more as my watch on Deck is called. I must therefore conclude hoping that some Effectial mode of Redressing the grievances of American Tars will be thought of & put into Execution by our Govt./John Johnston/Jany. 10, 1806."
The accompanying folded transmittal letter is datelined "Collectors Office, Baltimore 10 June 1806" from the Collector of Customs at Baltimore, R. Purviance, to David Gelston, Collector of Customs at New York. It bears a red "Balte. Md. Jun. 9" circular datestamp and manuscript "34" rate. The letter reads:
"Sir, The enclosed letter was handed to me this morning by William Jennett, Master of a coasting vessel, who found corked up in a Bottle on Shore, the State of North Carolina. As the writer, as well as the other sufferers, who were Impressed with him, sailed from your Port in the month of November last, in the Brig Lion, I hope you may have it in your power to furnish the necessary proofs for their relief. I have the honor to be very respectfully, Sir, you mo(st) ob(edient) serv(ant), R. Purviance, Coll." The receipt docketing reads "R Purviance 10 June 1806. No discovery can be made."
Ex Frajola and Dr. LeBow.