Adam D. Lehman
THE PRIVATEERS OF THE WAR OF 1812: A STUDY OF THE IMPACT OF AMERICAN FEDERAL LEGISLATION AND POLICIES REGARDING AMERICAN PIRATE ARMED VESSELS DURING THE WAR OF 1812.
(Under the direction of Professor Carl E. Swanson) Department of History, May 2006.
The War of 1812 was fought between Great Britain and the United States, from June 1812 to January 1815. During this short conflict, the war's theaters of military operation encompassed the eastern half of North America, ranging from the Great Lakes and the Canadian/United States border to the Mississippi delta and Spanish Florida. During this war, the Atlantic and Pacific oceans became deadly battle grounds, in which the Royal Navy struggled against a most determined adversary, American privateers.
The greatest inhibitor that against the efforts of American privateers was not the enormity of the British fleet, but the regulations and restrictions imposed by the American government. This thesis will examine how American federal legislation inhibited the efforts of American privateers and letter of marque traders during the War of 1812. If the American government been more supportive of the guerre de course against the British merchantmen from the onset of the war, the resulting impact of American privateers on British shipping would have been far more devastating. In addition, had the United States taken significant steps to encourage the destruction of enemy vessels by the American privateers, then the outcome of the war might have been decided differently.