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This paper will examine how British prize law and the Anglo-American War of 1812 influenced Anglo-American negotiations over anti-slave-trade treaties and courts in the post-Napoleonic era. Britain emerged from the Napoleonic Wars as the global maritime hegemon. During the war, the United States had enjoyed the position of a neutral nation that could profit from carrying European (particularly French) colonial commerce in an attempt to avoid Britain's strategy of maritime predation. U.S. neutrality, and carriage of French colonial commerce, created tension with Britain who used the prize system to curtail U.S. neutral rights. These tensions would contribute to the War of 1812. The United States' fear that Britain would abuse its maritime hegemony to illegally board U.S. vessels did not end with the War of 1812 or the with the European peace of 1815. British attempts to suppress the African slave trade after 1807 were partly dependent on British warships being able to board suspected illegal slave ships even when those ships were flying the American Flag. The U.S. remained unwilling to grant this right until well into the second half of the 19th century. Examining the Anglo-American negotiations over anti-slave trade laws requires delving into Anglo-American thinking on neutral maritime rights as well as American and British maritime aspirations post-1815. Both nations tried to shape international maritime law to their advantage in order to fulfil national strategic aims in the conflict weary post-Napoleonic period.


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