People of Impressed!
Edwin Lawrence, a Boston merchant planning to open a Lisbon office of his family firm in order to profit from the Peninsular and Mediterranean trade. He and his wife Prudence set off for the Portuguese capital in an American merchant vessel, not knowing that two days later he would be “impressed” by the Royal Navy and forced to serve “before the mast” as an ordinary seaman.
Prudence Lawrence, a young wife accompanying her husband on a business trip, little knowing that it would turn unimaginably horrible only two days out of port. Her husband taken away at gunpoint to serve in the Royal Navy, Prudence Lawrence leaves no stone unturned, no avenue untrod as she seeks her husband’s liberation.
Prudence Lawrence: leaving no diplomatic, journalistic, governmental, business, or social contact unexploited as she seeks her husband’s liberation . . . steadfastly pursuing her goal, though increasingly aware of the influence her beauty and fashion sense have on others, and all too aware of her own human frailties . . . .
Abraham Schwartzman, a Boston-born free African-American formerly apprenticed to an elderly, childless Boston silversmith who left Abraham his business on the condition that he adopt the master craftsman’s name. A Royal Navy boarding party impresses him, knowing his skill in metal-work can be valuable in their ship’s armory.
Abraham Schwarzman: Successful in Boston, but heading to Europe to escape racism and to seek prosperity and a quieter life . . . until impressment forces him to deal with new adversities and to cultivate new skills and new sensitivities . . . and brings him face to face with previously unconsidered intricacies of race and racism, of slavery and abolition . . . .
Lt. Lemuel Didcot, R.N., first lieutenant of the British frigate Armagh, and the officer in charge of the boarding party that “impresses” Edwin Lawrence and Abraham Schwartzman.