1797

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A Mutiny for Higher Pay

Mutiny on a British warship is an exceedingly foolish thing to contemplate, but driven by a lack of food and no pay raise since 1658, the sailors currently at the Spithead anchorage conspire to protest their treatment. They stage a two-week work-stoppage. Officers are prevented from leaving, except for a hated few. Otherwise, normal respect for officers is maintained. The sailors promise that if the French set sail, they will suspend their protest and fight. Otherwise, the sailors have taken an oath amongst themselves not to cave until their central demands are met. This strike is seen by the English government and the man-in-the-street as endangering the safety of the nation. Nevertheless, the demands are met and the sailors are pardoned. It does not go so well with the mutiny at Nore anchorage. The leader, Richard Parker, makes sweeping demands, including peace with France. After a short time, his fellow sailors start deserting. The mutiny collapses and Parker is hung along with 29 co-conspirators. Several other mutinies occur this year which result in reforms to the Royal Navy, and the prohibition of (secular) oaths that conflict with the duties of a sailor. Religious oaths are trickier and remain under discussion. [1] [2] [3] [4]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
The government had a fixed pay schedule, so a reasonable sailor's pay in 1658 was reduced considerably by 1797 due to inflation and the general economic turmoil of the times. If you can believe it, the sailors did NOT complain about the flogging per se. They complained about the unjust use of flogging by certain officers. For example, three sailors were killed when an officer threatened to flog the last man to reach the deck from their positions in the rigging. (That is, amongst the sails.) The crew mutinied shortly thereafter. In most cases, the sailors were treated worse than Australian-bound prisoners, so they tried to commit infractions that would justify sending them to Australia as a prisoner. It really was a better deal. Press-gang sailors had it worse since they also endured the disdain of the career sailors. (A press gang is like shanghaiing someone, but with government approval... like the draft... only more sudden.) [5]

Millions for Defense, not a Cent for Tribute. America's First Undeclared War

The USA has run up a heck of a bill with France but does it still owe the money? The original French monarchy is gone and the government of France keeps changing. They are currently on their 3rd government depending on how you count it. Frankly it is a dictatorship. It is also interdicting American shipping, seizing over 300 American merchant ships. A new treaty must be negotiated, but negotiations cannot start because certain French officials want a hefty bribe first. President John Adams recalls his negotiating team. His political opponents assume that the negotiations have failed because his incompetence, so they demand the French dispatches. Adams is forced to turn them over, but he substitutes the letters X, Y, and Z for the names of French officials demanding bribes. It becomes known as the XYZ Affair. By the rules of the Senate, Thomas Jefferson is required to read the dispatches out loud. Abigail Adams delights as she watches him squirm. The public is outraged. They shout, "Millions for defense, not a cent for tribute." John Adams manages to avoid outright war. He gets funding for finishing the Navy frigates, and runs his own Quasi-War... an undeclared war with France. This war will continue until 1800. [6] [7] [8] [9] [10]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
So... there was an undeclared war before the 20th century... eh? Although Congress did not specifically declare war against France, they did support and fund the protection of American commercial vessels. It also authorized shooting French naval vessels. While that certainly seems like a declaration of war, the resolution did not use the word "war." Congress could have easily mentioned war whether Adams liked it or not. Two thirds of the Congress were Thomas Jefferson republicans. They could have stuffed "war" down Adams' throat whether he liked it or not. Instead, they authorized everything but a formal war. As the modern Supreme Court reads this sort of situation, the Court can only intervene when there is a full-blown conflict between the Congress and the President. That didn't happen with the Iraq War under President Bush the Younger, and it didn't happen with the Quasi-War under President Adams the Elder. That is... interesting. [11] [12]

In Other News

  • The USS Constitution launches. Its 1st mission will be to protect American shipping from the French in what will be called the Quasi-War. [13] [14] [15]
  • Rear-Admiral Horatio Nelson loses his arm. Nelson takes a musket ball to the arm, so it is amputated without anesthetic. He complains that the knife is too cold and recommends a warmed knife in the future. [16] [17]
  • The flag of Italy is first used. After the Milan region is conquered by Napoleon, he has a new flag made using the old Milan colors plus the green of the Milan guard. It is styled after the French flag, naturally. [18]
  • Deutschland über alles (Germany above all else) Joseph Haydn adapts a traditional melody for a song to honor Emperor Franz. It will one day become the National Anthem of Germany. After World War 2, they will skip the "Germany above all else" stanza. [19]

This Year in Wikipedia

Year 1797, Wikipedia.

See Also

References

  1. Spithead and Nore mutinies - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 2 May 2016. “The mutiny at Spithead (an anchorage near Portsmouth) lasted from 16 April to 15 May 1797. Sailors on 16 ships in the Channel Fleet, commanded by Admiral Lord Bridport, protested against the living conditions aboard Royal Navy vessels and demanded a pay rise.”
  2. Billy Budd - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 2 May 2016. “The plot follows Billy Budd, a seaman impressed into service aboard HMS Bellipotent in the year 1797, when the British Royal Navy was reeling from two major mutinies and was threatened by the Revolutionary French Republic's military ambitions. He is impressed from another ship, The Rights of Man (named after the book by Thomas Paine). As his former ship moves off, Budd shouts, 'Good-by to you too, old Rights-of-Man.'”
  3. Unlawful Oaths Act - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 2 May 2016. “The Unlawful Oaths Act 1797 (37 Geo. III, c. 123) was an Act passed by the British Parliament. The Act was passed in the aftermath of the Spithead and Nore mutinies and aimed at clandestine political associations and ad hoc agreements such as those which had bound several of the mutineers.”
  4. Tolpuddle Martyrs - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 2 May 2016. “In 1834 James Frampton, a local landowner and magistrate, wrote to the Home Secretary Lord Melbourne to complain about the union. Melbourne recommended invoking the Unlawful Oaths Act 1797, an obscure law promulgated in 1797 in response to the Spithead and Nore mutinies, which prohibited the swearing of secret oaths. James Brine, James Hammett, George Loveless, George's brother James Loveless, George's brother in-law Thomas Standfield, and Thomas's son John Standfield were arrested and tried before Sir John Williams in R v Lovelass and Others. They were found guilty and transported to Australia.”
  5. History of the Australian Bushrangers. gutenberg.net.au (2016). Retrieved on 30 May 2016. “If flogging is efficacious in preventing crime, it should have made the convict colonies the most virtuous places on earth, for the 'cat' was in almost continuous use in New South Wales and in Van Diemen's Land. The 'cat' generally used was the ordinary military or naval cat; but 'the cat used at Macquarie Harbour was a larger and heavier instrument than that used generally for the punishment of soldiers or sailors. It was called the thief's cat, or double cat-o'-nine-tails. It had only the usual number of tails, but each of these was a double twist of whipcord, and each tail had nine knots. It was a very formidable instrument indeed.'** How far the influence of this barbarous instrument of torture tended to make the prisoners at Macquarie Harbour the most reckless and ferocious of the convicts of Australia it is unnecessary to enquire, but there can be no doubt that its influence was for evil and not for good. It is with the ordinary 'cat,' with which England in these barbarous times flogged her defenders as ferociously as she did her prisoners, that we have to deal; and, frightful as the tortures were which were inflicted on the convicts, we have positive evidence that their lot was looked upon with envy by the soldiers who guarded them. Several soldiers in New South Wales deliberately committed crime so that they might be convicted, in the hope that, by good conduct, they might earn some of the indulgences open to convicts.”
  6. French Directory - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 30 May 2016. “The Directory became a kind of ineffective dictatorship. It repudiated most of the assignats [paper money] and the debt but failed to restore financial confidence or stability. Guerrilla activity flared up again in the Vendée and other parts of western France. The religious schism became more acute; the Directory took severe measures toward the refractory clergy [those who would not swear allegiance to the government].”
  7. French Directory - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 30 May 2016. “Tensions between the U.S. and France developed into the Quasi-War, an undeclared naval war. France complained the U.S. was ignoring the Treaty of Alliance (1778) that had brought the French into the Revolutionary War. The United States insisted on taking a neutral stance in the war between France and Britain. After the Jay Treaty with Britain went into effect in 1796, France began to side against the United States and by 1797 they had seized over 300 American merchant ships. Federalists favored Britain, while Jeffersonian Republicans favored France. Federalist President John Adams built up the U.S. Navy, finishing three frigates, approving funds to build three more, and sending diplomats to Paris to negotiate. They were insulted by Foreign Minister Talleyrand (who demanded bribes before talking). The XYZ Affair told Americans about the negotiations and angered American public opinion.”
  8. XYZ Affair - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 30 May 2016. “An American diplomatic commission was sent to France in July 1797 to negotiate problems that were threatening to break out into war. The diplomats, Charles Cotesworth Pinckney, John Marshall, and Elbridge Gerry, were approached through informal channels by agents of the French Foreign Minister Talleyrand, who demanded bribes and a loan before formal negotiations could begin. Although such demands were not uncommon in mainland European diplomacy of the time, the Americans were offended by them, and eventually left France without ever engaging in formal negotiations.”
  9. Ellis, Joseph J.. First Family: Abigail and John Adams. Knopf. “And, double irony, Jefferson himself, as president of the Senate, was required to read the dispatches that described in excruciating detail the insulting behavior of the French government, bribes and all. Abigail, who was present in the gallery for this melodramatic scene, noted with enormous satisfaction that "the Jacobins in the Senate and House were struck dumb and opened not their mouths."” 
  10. Quasi-War - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 30 May 2016. “The Quasi-War (French: Quasi-guerre) was an undeclared war fought almost entirely at sea between the United States of America and the French Republic from 1798 to 1800. After the toppling of the French crown during the French Revolutionary Wars, the United States refused to continue repaying its debt to France on the grounds that it had been owed to a previous regime. French outrage led to a series of attacks on American shipping, ultimately leading to retaliation from the Americans and the end of hostilities with the signing of the Convention of 1800 shortly thereafter.”
  11. An Act further to protect the commerce of the United States - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 30 May 2016. “An Act further to protect the commerce of the United States, (5th Congress, Sess. 2, ch. 68, 1 Stat. 578) is an act of Congress approved July 9, 1798, authorizing the President of the United States to use military force in the Quasi-War with France.”
  12. Iraq Resolution - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 30 May 2016. “In early 2003, the Iraq Resolution was challenged in court to stop the invasion from happening. The plaintiffs argued that the President does not have the authority to declare war. The final decision came from a three-judge panel from the US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit which dismissed the case. Judge Lynch wrote in the opinion that the Judiciary cannot intervene unless there is a fully developed conflict between the President and Congress or if Congress gave the President 'absolute discretion' to declare war.”
  13. USS Constitution - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 30 May 2016. “President John Adams ordered all Navy ships to sea in late May 1798 to patrol for armed ships of France, and to free any American ship captured by them. Constitution was still not ready to sail, and eventually had to borrow sixteen 18-pound (8.2 kg) cannons from Castle Island before finally being ready.[3] Constitution put to sea on the evening of 22 July 1798 with orders to patrol the Eastern seaboard between New Hampshire and New York.”
  14. Quasi-War - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 30 May 2016. “The Quasi-War (French: Quasi-guerre) was an undeclared war fought almost entirely at sea between the United States of America and the French Republic from 1798 to 1800. After the toppling of the French crown during the French Revolutionary Wars, the United States refused to continue repaying its debt to France on the grounds that it had been owed to a previous regime. French outrage led to a series of attacks on American shipping, ultimately leading to retaliation from the Americans and the end of hostilities with the signing of the Convention of 1800 shortly thereafter.”
  15. XYZ Affair - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 30 May 2016. “The XYZ Affair was a political and diplomatic episode in 1797 and 1798, early in the administration of John Adams, involving a confrontation between the United States and Republican France that led to an undeclared war called the Quasi-War. The name derives from the substitution of the letters X, Y and Z for the names of French diplomats Hottinguer (X), Bellamy (Y), and Hauteval (Z) in documents released by the Adams administration.”
  16. Toll, Ian W.. Six Frigates: The Epic History of the Founding of the U.S. Navy. Penguin / Michael Joseph. ISBN 9780718146580. 
  17. Battle of Santa Cruz de Tenerife (1797) - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 30 May 2016. “Launched by Rear-Admiral Horatio Nelson on 22 July 1797, the assault was defeated, and on 25 July the remains of the landing party withdrew under a truce, having lost several hundred men. Nelson himself had been wounded in the arm, which was subsequently partially amputated: a stigma that he carried to his grave as a constant reminder of his failure.”
  18. Flag of Italy - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 30 May 2016. “The first entity to use the Italian tricolour was the Cisalpine Republic in 1797, which supplanted Milan after Napoleon's victorious army crossed Italy in 1796. The colours chosen by the Cispadane Republic were red and white, which were the colours of the recently conquered flag of Milan; and green, which was the colour of the uniform of the Milanese civic guard.”
  19. Deutschlandlied - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 30 May 2016. “Since World War II and the fall of Nazi Germany, only the third stanza has been used as the national anthem. The stanza's beginning, 'Einigkeit und Recht und Freiheit' ('Unity and Justice and Freedom') is considered the unofficial national motto of Germany, and is inscribed on modern German Army belt buckles and the rims of some German coins.”

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