Extorting Philadelphia: Commodore Beresford and the Vixen Parolees

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Ross Hassig


Philadelphia was an official though little-used prisoner-of-war (POW) exchange station for nine months at the opening of the War of 1812. But notoriously, it was also the locus of the most egregious violation of the sanctity of cartels returning paroled POWs in the entire war. This violation of the bilateral exchange agreement and international law, benefiting the British as it did, was castigated by the Americans but ignored at all levels by the British naval commanders and the British government.

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