• Bombs bursting in air over Baltimore in 1813

    War of 1812

Free Trade and Sailors' Rights

In July 1812, Captain David Porter hoisted a white flag, bearing the slogan, "a free trade and sailors' rights," on the mast of the frigate Essex. Under this banner, Porter sailed from New York harbor to a series of spectacular victories against the Royal Navy. But the real power of this banner exists in the political slogan that it became, distilling the meanings of the War of 1812 for many Americans and concentrating the grievances against Great Britain into an easily digestible and repeatable motto. This soundbite not only gave voice to the American republic's ideals of free trade, neutral rights, and a revolutionary regime in foreign affairs, but also spoke of the inalienable rights of American citizens, cutting to the very core of American identity.

Showing results 1-4 of 4