Let me tell you how I did it against impossible odds. The idea came soon after I invaded the United States. I recall a fog of cannon smoke blinding my vision but nothing could reduce the noise of the guns blasting. My guns. They rained destruction and death upon the Americans, whose flimsy coastal defences were built in haste and futility against the might of the world’s greatest navy. My navy.

My task was to eliminate those forts, enabling our brave British troops to launch their shore landings. We were teaching the Yankee upstarts a lesson long overdue.

It was June 1812, tense time for the world. The US Congress had finally and foolishly declared war on Great Britain. Their feeble excuse was alleged interference by Britain’s navy, allegedly violent, against American shipping. Of course, as explained by my Uncle Charlie, veteran seadog, our interference was simply seapower in action.

As a necessary clamp on France, the Royal Navy had banned all trade by every nation with any French-held port, and we took firm action to police this ban. As a result, American merchants were cut off from France, their major trading partner. In retaliation, misguided hawks in the US House of Representatives resolved to seize the whole of Canada, a wealthy British possession. Thus do politicians and merchant princes rock the world and rule an individual’s destiny.

“Seapower, Jim boy,” said my uncle the admiral.

“See this. The Royal Navy has 97 ships on the transatlantic station against a pathetic 16 in the US Navy. You will go show the Yanks what seapower means.” Loud on the worth of seapower was Uncle Charlie, and short on cautious shilly-shally. His blunt logic dictated action. “Do it,” he commanded me. “Britannia rules the oceans and therefore the planet.”

But seapower failed Britannia and Uncle Charlie in this particular conflict.

MY warship, the Brazen, was a sloop of 28 guns, and I felt no qualms about wrecking the American forts; even though my grandmother herself was American, from a wealthy banking family, the Willings of Philadelphia. Having renounced the King, these cousins grew rich in rebellion, and even helped to draft that damnable Declaration:

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