The Year Was 1806

Napoleon.jpgThe year was 1806 and Europe was embroiled in the Napoleonic wars. Prussia, concerned with France’s growing power in the German states, entered the conflict, allied with Britain and Russia. Napoleon quickly defeated the Prussians, forcing King Frederick William III into exile in Russia. French forces went on to occupy Berlin and by the end of November had entered Poland and captured Warsaw. On 21 November, Napoleon issued the Berlin Decree, threatening seizure of any and all ships en route to or from Great Britain. Britain retaliated with a similar order in January of 1807.

During the Napoleonic Wars, Britain was in great need of seamen, and with mercenaries from the German and Prussian states unavailable now, they turned to more desperate measures. British ships routinely stopped American merchant ships under the guise of seeking out deserters from British ships, but sailors unable to prove American birth were impressed into service in the British Navy. The dispute over this practice would be a motivating factor for the War of 1812.

With trade to Europe restricted, America had turned its sights westward to explore its newly acquired territories. The Lewis and Clark Expedition began their journey home from the Pacific in March and reached St. Louis on 23 September.

Prior to their return, in July another expedition left Fort Bellefontaine for western territories. Led by Lieutenant Zebulon Montgomery Pike, the expedition would explore the territories that would later become Missouri, Kansas, Colorado, New Mexico, and Texas.

Travel in America was to get a bit easier for some, as in 1806, plans were approved for the construction of the National Road, or Cumberland Road as it is commonly called. The route would extend from Cumberland, Maryland, through Pennsylvania, to Wheeling, West Virginia. It later extended to Vandalia, Illinois. The creation of this road opened up much of the land west of the Appalachians to settlement.

The year ended with a tragic storm in Scotland, which struck the Moray Firth on Christmas. Three fishing vessels from the town of Stotfield were lost, “containing 21 seamen, who have left 17 widows and 42 children, besides aged parents and other helpless relations to lament their fate,” as reported by the Aberdeen Journal.

The Edinburgh Weekly Journal, reported on 14 January 1807, that, “A subscription for the relief of those unfortunate families is opened at the Banking-House of Sir William Forbes and Company; at the shops of Mr. Constable, bookteller, High Street, and Mr. Wayne, bookteller, St. Andrew’s Street, Edinburgh, and at the Shop of Mr. Forsyth, bookteller in Elgin; where the smallest donations from such benevolent persons as are inclined to relieve their severe distress, will be gracefully received.”

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3 thoughts on “The Year Was 1806

  1. I had a ancestral grandfather that served under Napolean (sp?).
    Abraham Young. I often wonder if there are any records that would tell what he did and where he fought. Germans were impressed in to his armies. My ggggrandmother that died because of the typhoid fever they brought with them when the soldiers came through (Mrs Peter Young).
    Thank you for the articles.
    Linda

  2. Wonderful article. I was especially interested in Napolean. My greatgrandfather supposedly traveled with him while at a young age. He took care of the horses and was given a horse and saddle when the war ended and Napolean sent him home

  3. Interesting.
    You might want to change sites to sights in paragraph 3 before archiving the article.
    I’m curious about the bookteller shops. Were these shops selling books or more like an accounting firm? I can understand why a bank would accept donations for the misfortunate but why a bookshop (3 even!)?

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