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In 1793, Britain went to war against France in what became known as the Napoleonic Wars. The United States was neutral during this conflict but hostilities between the two belligerents interfered with its trade. The Royal Navy blockaded French ports and obliged all neutral shipping, especially American vessels, bound for France, to call first at a British port and pay duties on its cargo before being allowed to proceed. Furthermore the Royal Navy frequently stopped United States ships and pressed into service those seamen who had either deserted from the Royal Navy or were vaguely suspected of having deserted. This policy so incensed United States officials, that on 18th June 1812, President James Madison declared war on Great Britain.