Tecumseh and the War of 1812


The battle of Tippecanoe was a major setback
for Tecumseh. But warriors across the American frontier still answered his call. Less than
a year later, the Shawnee chieftain cast himself into the War of 1812, fighting alongside the
British to forge an independent homeland for his people in the crucible of war. A massive thank you to ExpressVPN for sponsoring
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On June 17th, 1812, The United States Senate voted narrowly in favour of armed conflict
with Great Britain. This war had been a long time coming. As a certain Napoleon Bonaparte
had been conquering across Europe, the British had imposed themselves upon U.S. sovereignty,
embargoing American trade with France and her allies, while kidnapping sailors off American
ships to supplement the Royal Navy’s perpetual need for manpower. But these were not the real causes of the
war. For decades, the British Empire had been empowering Native Tribes on the U.S. frontier
to resist American expansion. Indeed, most of the muskets used by Tecumseh’s warriors
were British-manufactured. For the Warhawks in Washington, this provided the excuse needed
to pursue American territorial expansion, first by annexing British Canada, then by
expanding deeper into the lands of the Native tribes on their western frontier. One of the main obstacles preventing American
expansionism was still alive and well. Tecumseh had never stopped preparing for war. He had
no love for the British, but realized it was only through their manpower and resources
that the reconquest of Native lands annexed by America, and the establishment of an independent
pan-Tribal Native state, was possible. To this end, he mobilized his warriors for battle. It was the general consensus that if the United
States launched an invasion into Canada, the territory would fall quickly. The ongoing
war with Napoleon kept the majority of Britain’s armies in Europe, and the local Canadian Colonials
were unlikely to be willing to fight against a far superior foe. On July the 12th, 1812, the United States
began their invasion when Brigadier General William Hull marched across into old Sandwich
town in present day Ontario, occupying it without a fight. He offered peace to the locals
should they become Americans, but to those who fought alongside the British or their
native allies, he had a much darker promise: “The first stroke of the Tomahawk, the first
attempt with the scalping knife, will be the signal for one indiscriminate scene of desolation.
No white man found fighting by the side of an Indian will be taken prisoner. Instant
destruction will be his lot.” However, Hull proved to be an ineffective
general. The main British garrison in the region was isolated in nearby Fort Malden,
but Hull refused to strike, instead holding position in Sandwich town while obsessing
over his supply lines across the Detroit river. On July 17th, 700 native warriors of the Great
Lakes nations arrived at Fort St. Joseph on the shores of the Huron to join the British
cause. The local British Commander had only 50 redcoats under his charge, but empowered
by his new allies, he swooped down into Michigan, and besieged nearby Fort Mackinac. Unaware
that the war had been declared, the American Garrison surrendered without a fight. As Tecumseh’s warriors took arms, the Great
Chieftain himself was heading north to join the fray. At Brownstown Creek, he fell fiercely
upon a supply convoy of 200 U.S. soldiers, scattering them with only 25 warriors at his
side. Following this string of humiliating defeats, Hull’s nerve broke, and on August
7th, he retreated back into American territory to garrison in Fort Detroit, having accomplished
little to nothing. Back in Washington, Thomas Jefferson famously asserted that “The acquisition
of Canada this year will be a mere matter of marching”, but this was no longer the
reality. Tecumseh and his natives had delivered the
British a fighting chance, and with that, the inspiration for the local Canadians to
resist the conquest. But in truth, the war had just begun; there was much to do before
Tecumseh’s dream could be realized. It was at this point that the Shawnee Chieftain’s
greatest ally enters the story. Major-General Isaac Brock was a career soldier,
and a loyal British subject. In 1802, he was appointed a station in lower Canada, where
he eventually became head of the Colonial army. Modern Canadians consider him a national
hero, but in truth, he resented his outpost. In comparison with the Napoleonic War, Canada
was a sleepy and irrelevant sideshow. Nevertheless, Brock did his duty well. He
reformed the Provincial militia and bolstered the defenses of forts on the American border.
A few months before the war’s outbreak, Brock was offered a posting in Europe. Despite
his personal desires, he refused, believing he now had a duty to defend Canada against
the invasion he knew was soon to come. On the night of August 13th, 1812, Brock arrived
at Fort Malden aboard a Flotilla of ships, by way of lake Erie. Tecumseh was there waiting
for him, and the two men were eager to see one another. Both had heard of the other’s
deeds, and both knew that they needed each other. Brock could not defend Canada without
Tecumseh’s aid, nor could Tecumseh retake his people’s lands without British support.
The two leaders soon met face to face, and quickly developed a mutual respect. They agreed that only through a quick and
decisive offense could they hope to win this war. To that end, they resolved to attack
Fort Detroit, the place where the bulk of American forces in the Northwest were stationed.
It was risky, since the allies knew they would be outnumbered two to one. Most of Brock’s
officers were against it, yet the Major-General would not relent. Tecumseh was impressed by
his new partner’s resolve, famously saying: “This is a man! A more sagacious and a more
gallant Warrior does not I believe exist.” On the morning of the 15th of August, an allied
force of Canadian Militias, Redcoats and Natives made camp in Sandwich town, opposite the river
to the American-held Fort Detroit. Major-General Brock commanded a force about 700 strong,
while Tecumseh and his warriors numbered around 600. Meanwhile, General Hull had 2,500 men
garrisoned inside his well-fortified walls, double the number of his opponent. Brock wrote a letter to his American adversary,
demanding his immediate surrender, saying: “It is far from my inclination to join in
a war of extermination, but you must be aware, that the numerous body of Indians who have
attached themselves to my troops will be beyond my control the moment the contest commences.”
In truth, Tecumseh was no butcher, and in fact abhorred unnecessary killing, but through
captured intelligence, he and Brock both knew that General Hull was terrified of Natives
warriors, and that the fear of a savage massacre may be enough to break him. Yet still, no
surrender came. The following night, Brock began to ferry
his troops across the river. The British opened fire with their three heavy cannons and two
mortars to cover the crossing. Hull ordered his 24-pounders to return fire. Neither side
managed to inflict much damage upon the other, but on the morning of the 16th, a cannon ball
struck the Fort’s mess hall and killed two Americans. Upon crossing the river, Brock organized his
troops into two rows a mile out from the fortress walls, boldly placing himself at the front
of the line. An officer pleaded that he not expose himself so plainly, to which he replied:
“Many here follow me from a feeling of personal regard. I will not ask them to go where I
will not lead them.” When news arrived that a force of 400 Ohio militiamen were arriving
from his rear, Brock doubled down and marched his troops to the far-side of the fort, opposite
to the river. Meanwhile, Tecumseh and his warriors had quietly
made the river crossing five miles south, filtering his men into a forest within view
of the Fort. Ingeniously, he paraded his men in circles, repeatedly having them pass through
a gap in the tree line within view of the Americans, delivering ferocious war-cries
all the while. This created the illusion that there were far more natives at Detroit’s
gates than there actually were, and made the weight of an Indian massacre all the more
real. By now, General Hull had been psychologically
broken, with contemporary reports claiming he sat in a muted daze, saliva and tobacco
dripping limply from his chin. Within his fort there were women and children, including
his very own daughter and grandchild. The man had never had the will of a soldier, and
the mind games of Brock and Tecumseh had broken him. After only a few hours of siege, the
gates opened, and Hull’s own son rode out, bearing a white flag. Fort Detroit had surrendered. It was a stunning defeat for the Americans.
The largest garrison in the northern United States had surrendered without a fight. 2493
soldiers were taken captive by a force barely half their number. Tecumseh had done his part,
and delivered the British a great victory. Now it was time for his Imperial allies to
help him push deeper into American territory, and help him establish a homeland for his
people. Unfortunately for him, this would never come to pass. The United States was determined to avenge
their humiliation at Detroit, and thus launched an offensive upon Queenston Heights, managing
to capture the town. This provoked Brock to rally a force of militiamen from nearby York
and some native Mohawk allies to once more drive the Americans from Canadian soil. It was in this engagement where the Major-General
met his end. He charged up the heights with his men, wearing a silk sash given to him
by Tecumseh. This made him a conspicuous target, and as he ran up the hill, he was shot fatally
through the chest. 300 Mohawk warriors jumped into the fray, holding off a much larger American
army until British reinforcements arrived. Queenston was retaken, and nearly 1,000 Americans
were captured or killed. Despite this, with Brock dead, the Native confederacy had now
lost its only reliable ally. Meanwhile, an old foe of Tecumseh had come
to assume command of the American forces in the northwest: none other than William Henry
Harrison, the conqueror of Prophetstown. Unlike his predecessor Hull, Harrison was a natural
leader and a decisive soldier. His first act was to construct a bastion along the Maumee
river, which he called Fort Meigs. From here, he planned to strike upwards and retake Detroit.
Meanwhile, the Governor-General of Canada had promoted an officer by the name of Henry
Procter to lead the British army due to Isaac Brock’s untimely death. Procter and Tecumseh
went on the southwards offensive. In January of 1813, the Native-British forces
encountered an expeditionary platoon of mounted Kentucky riflemen sallying north from Fort
Meigs. They clashed on a battlefield outside the borough of Frenchtown. For once, the Americans
were outnumbered, and suffered a resounding defeat. Nearly 500 Kentuckians were killed
in the fighting, the highest American casualty count of any battle in the war, and yet another
500 were captured. The American prisoners were put on a forced
march back to Fort Malden for detainment. Native warriors began taking liberties with
their captives, robbing and killing the injured, and cutting down any who would not keep pace
with the slog. Tecumseh himself had left before the battle’s end, and was not present to
see the massacre. He abhorred needless death, so when he caught wind of the prisoners’
fate, he was outraged. Confronting Proctor, he demanded to know why
the British General would allow such a thing, to which Proctor snidely replied that Tecumseh’s
natives were impossible to control. At this, the Chieftain replied temprously: “Begone!
You are unfit to command! Go and put on petticoats!” From there, cracks continued to form in Tecumseh’s
tenuous alliance with the British. With Brock, the chieftain had built a strong rapport,
but he had no such respect for Procter, who refused to fight the war on the Native’s
terms, as Brock had. Meanwhile, the Americans would remember the
massacre at Frenchtown, their slain prisoners would become martyrs, and the event became
a rallying cry for the rest of the war. Sure enough, the tides began to turn. In the Spring
of 1813, Tecumseh convinced a begrudging Procter into launching a joint assault upon Fort Meigs.
Twice, a force of 1200 natives and 900 British soldiers laid siege to the fort, but twice,
Harrison managed to repel them, despite suffering heavy casualties. As more Americans fell into
British captivity during these battles, Tecumseh continued to prevent massacres he much as
he could. It is because of this that many Americans to this day regard him with the
respect befitting a noble foe. The failing relationship between Tecumseh
and his allies was further exacerbated when the United States won a decisive naval engagement
in September of 1813. The battle of Put-In-Bay put the entirety of Lake Erie in American
hands, and cut off British supply lines, forcing them to abandon Fort Malden and Fort Detroit,
thereby erasing all the victories won by Tecumseh and Brock a year earlier. With winter looming, General Procter retreated
eastward, banking on the fact that Harrison would not pursue him through the winter snows.
This enraged Tecumseh, for the Shawnee chieftain still wanted to go on the offensive. He felt
betrayed. After all, he had delivered the British several victories in their war, only
to receive no aid in return for his. As it turned out, Procter’s gamble was incorrect.
Harrison was all too willing to risk a winter campaign to press his advantage. After retaking
Fort Detroit, the American general marched eastwards to pursue the British forces. Still,
Procter continued to withdraw, much to the disgust of Tecumseh, who now realized that
his unreliable ally could not be further removed from the gallantry and bravery of Brock. Reluctantly, the Shawnee took his warriors
joined the British retreat. But soon he had had enough. Realizing there was no end to
Procter’s timidity, Tecumseh stood before the General and put his foot in the earth,
issuing him an ultimatum: The British would withdraw no further, or the alliance between
them and his Native Confederacy was over. In declaring this, Tecumseh had said choice
words that would go down in history: “Our lives are in the hands of the Great Spirit.
We are determined to defend our lands, and if it be his will, we wish to leave our bones
upon them.” With his hand being forced, Procter agreed
to face Harrison’s army. He chose to make his stand on the banks of the Canadian River
Thames, near Moraviantown, a village of Christian Delawares. Procter’s 900 men lined themselves
in rows perpendicular to the River. Exhausted and starving from their forced march, the
Redcoats were in no state to fight. Tecumseh stationed his warriors in a black ash swamp
to the British right, where they would have ample cover, and could flank the approaching
American army. The emboldened Grand Chieftain personally shook the hand of each British
officer, before rejoining his men. Before long, the Americans were in sight.
Harrison’s force was imposing, nearly 4,000 strong; they more than doubled the numbers
of the British and Natives combined. Procter had made no attempt to build earthworks to
fortify his position, so the plains between him and the Americans remained entirely uncontested. Harrison knew that the best way to break his
enemy was to move fast and strike hard, much like he had done at Prophetstown two years
earlier. The American general kept the bulk of his militia and infantry in reserve, and
organized a center column of mounted Kentucky riflemen to barrel down towards the British
line. Tecumseh and his warriors opened fire from the swamp, but were unable to stop the
cavalry from thundering into their Redcoat allies. This devastating charge broke the
British morale. Gripped by panic, they broke formation and scattered, offering only a token
resistance through disorganized and scattered gunfire. General Procter fled the field with
250 of his men, while the remaining 600 British soldiers were either captured or cut down. When Tecumseh was young, he had taken an oath:
to never again flee in the face of battle. Even now, with his allies abandoning him,
and outnumbered eight to one by his enemy, he would uphold that oath. Entrenched deep
in the swamps, the Natives fought on without British aid. Harrison ordered his Kentucky
cavalrymen to break their lines, but their initial charge was cut down by a fusillade
of Native gunfire. From there, the battle devolved into a drawn out shootout, with both
sides trading fire amidst the cover of the swampy thicket. It is here, in a battlefield of smoky air
and muddy mire that the story of Tecumseh ends. As the chaotic shootout continued, an
American soldier managed to train his sights on the proud Shawnee Chieftain, and shoot
him through the chest. Tecumseh was killed immediately upon the impact. It didn’t take long for news of Tecumseh’s
death to spread among the Native warriors. Deeply demoralized by this, and afeard by
the rest of Harrison’s army descending upon them, they fled the battlefield and scattered.
The Battle of the Thames was a decisive victory for the Americans, and spelled the end of
the Great Native Coalition. Tecumseh had been the glue that bound them together; no other
warrior among them had as much respect from so many diverse tribes. After the engagement at Moraviantown, many
individual chieftains surrendered to Governor Harrison and returned to their homes, beholden
to the will of the United States. There would be no more united Native front, and no more
attempts to form a unified indigenous nation on North American soil. The confederacy that
Tecumseh had spent so many years building in life, inevitably dissolved with his death. The war of 1812 would rage on for another
two years after Tecumseh’s passing, but Native Warriors no longer played a major role.
Both British and American armies scored later victories, with the British sacking the capital
of Washington, and the Americans winning an iconic engagement at New Orleans. The war
ended in stalemate; the British had successfully defended their territory, while the Americans
had asserted their sovereignty. Canada would not be annexed, and America would no longer
have their economic and territorial interests imposed upon. In the end, the only true losers of the war
of 1812 were the indigenous tribes of the continent. During peace talks, the British
had originally negotiated to establish a Native Nation, albeit only to create a buffer state
to block further American expansion. Naturally, the Americans outright denied this proposal.
Realizing they did not have the leverage to enforce such a thing, the British quickly
abandoned the notion. When the treaty of Ghent was signed in December
of 1814, no provisions existed to stem the tide of American westward expansion, and expand
they did. Without a strong leader like Tecumseh to bind them, the indigenous peoples of the
American continent were largely helpless to combat the flood of settlers that came to
take their lands. The Red Stick Muskogees who had declared for Tecumseh fought on for
a time, engaging the Americans in the deep south. But they too were eventually defeated
by future-President Andrew Jackson in a massacre at Horseshoe bend. In the end, the story of Tecumseh is a tragic
tale. A man of remarkable charisma, integrity, bravery and strength, who spent his whole
life fighting for independence and unity, only to have it all taken away upon his death.
Even his greatest foe in William Henry Harrison had remarked that this brave warrior had the
makings of an Emperor, and it is easy to wonder what great things he could have done, if only
he had lived a little longer. Nevertheless, Tecumseh’s memory is alive and well today.
To the Americans, he was a noble opponent. To Canadians, the saviour of their nation.
But to the indigenous peoples of North America, he is and always will be above all things,
an icon of resistance. We always have more stories to tell, so make
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100 thoughts on “Tecumseh and the War of 1812”

  1. Join our patreon, so you can take part in the discord action. I promise it gets really spicy 🙂 https://www.patreon.com/kingsandgenerals

  2. Jefferson is quoted during this documentary, but he was not president in 1812. The president at that time was James Madison.

  3. Story of North American Natives never changes; that wasn't the last time that white men betrayad Natives whether British or American!

  4. Excellent video K&G's, I'm not a patreon but a dare to ask you guys to do a series about the war of intervention on Mexico and the american expantion to the west, thanks 👍🏽

  5. Great videa. I don't think "indigenous" has anything to do with Tecumseh. He was a tribal leader that tried to make a Confederacy. Indigenous religions have a big role in terms of Pontiacs rebellion, but by this time the role of American expansion made a bigger impression. Thank you.

  6. The only time in history an army has marched into old sandwich I'd wager. Yes I'm making this wonderful historical video about a tasty sandwich and thats my preferred interpretation of history. Invading sandwiches without a fight and offering to Americanise them into subway branches or something similar.

  7. Sandwich town is now Windsor, Borck University in nearby St. Catherines is named after Brock. The town near Thames where the battle ocurred is now London, and of course, York is now called Toronto.

  8. Gotta admit, as an American, it feels weird being the villain. I mean, I'm kinda used to being the villain since I'm white, but because I'm American is different

  9. While this might be just a myth, I think You should have mentioned it in this video.
    According to the book 'Wartime Anecdotes' by Geoffrey Regan, 'vengeful' Americans found Tecumseh's body and skinned it. Then used his skin to produce very popular… belts to sharpen shaving razors.
    Harrison may have had some respect for Tecumseh, but his countrymen certainly had none.

  10. Everyone calls the war of 1812 a stalemate. I believe it was a nominal American victory. Though the Canadians indeed eventually repelled the U.S. from Canada the United States repelled every British invasion attempt and secured the frontier from further British incursions while the British gained nothing.

  11. Countless surrendered native Americans including even women and children got tortured, killed and enslaved in American history that estimated numbers as high as 6 million native Americans who got enslaved but when native Americans did a similar thing to captured american soldiers there was a public outrage??? So the wicked hypocrisy of americans was always a thing even more than 200 years ago…

    https://www.brown.edu/news/2017-02-15/enslavement

  12. Hmm, I have to wonder, if Tecumseh had lived long enough and fulfilled his dream of a United native nation, assuming he won more decisive battles against the Americans, how will the native nation fare their relationship with America? Will it exist until today or fall in a later war?

    Also, to be considered as a man by a native warrior like Tecumseh… What was Brock eating to have those titanium nerves?

  13. So this is how the USA stole the Native's land. But I guess that's live, compassion is only for weak. And since the Native is so weak, their fate is extinction.

  14. What happened to the indigenous Canadians? Same occupation, same cultural and land theft by Canadians. Why didn't the British narrator mention this as well?

  15. Been a fan following this channel with good animations and historical narration on this channel, just like the other historical channels here on youtube. You guys keep doing what you do best here! 😊☺️👍

  16. Tecumseh's conduct is presented with such sugar coating here. He was a fool, a betrayer, a liar, and a killer of prisoners.

  17. In watching this episode i could not help but compare it to ROME and its wars against the kings of old. Like The USA, Rome consistently won wars against charismatic leaders, who had "the makings of an emperor". From Hannibal to Ariovist or Vercingetorix, Rome oftentimes lost battles at the beginning, but then conquered all. The strength of a nation lies in the ability to lose a charismatic leader and still be able to fight on….and get victory. If a nation is not able to do this, then it is just a giant on tin legs.

  18. I wonder how different U.S.-Native history would have been if Tecumseh had lived and the Indian State had been established. Then again, I bet there'd be even more fervor to take over the land once Jackson became president.

  19. Tecumseh was clearly a noble and inspired man, who wished to fulfil his spirtual task by protecting his people, their lands, and way of life from the 'white man' of that day. It can be seen as a culture clash, which very quickly had had a devastating impact upon both the US, and the world in general as 'the ways of the white man' have turned the earth into a sty. It was meant to be a haven for spiritual ascent, which through the wheel of reincarnation could proffer the opportunity to return to eternal life in Paradise, the place from which man came in the first place, for deep within us all are memories of this realm.

    However, the greater number of men, usually out of vain glory or emptiness, pursue the 'ways of the white man', which refers to the wrong way of living adopted by the masses, who pursue materialistic desires and base ends due to their spiritual imbalance. This imbalance brought forth the multitude of faults, which man now bears, as he blindly destroys his own race, and the earth, and includes the lust for power, money, land, riches, sex, attention, status and many others. Although not exclusive to, these type of faults were rife amongst the white settlers and invaders during the wars with the native indians.

    A time of great consternation for the Indians, but one where spirits were strengthened for the real battle, between Light and Darkness, and it is no surprise that war leaders like Tecumseh and Crazy Horse, along with prophets, were able to leave an indellible mark not just on history, but upon the greater spirtual war that persists, both here and in the beyond. And it is especially important today as we hurtle towards the imminent destruction of mother earth and the human species .

    Therefore, in honour of these great, noble warriors of the Light, let us take up their mantle, by surrendering ourselves wholeheartedly to the Great Spirit who presides over us all, and give up all our wrong thoughts, desires and actions, so that purified we can absorb of the spiritual energy and guiding urges that beckon us to take up arms in the struggle against the Darkness. So sharpen your spiritual swords my fellow warriors, for soon the prophecies will be fulfilled, and then it will be yeah or neah for every man, to be, or not to be, according to his karmic blessings, or debt, for what thou doth soweth, so you must reapeth!

    So start the day with a heartfelt thanks to the Creator for all his blessings, and life itself, which came forth from His Breath so long ago. Intuitively sense the balance and beauty in all matters and with all creatures, small and great, whether it be in dress, language, morals, relations with others, food and water intake, care of gardens, work, the environment..everything, for it is oft in the smaller details that man is found wanting, and to be born anew, which we all must, we must be completely rid of the old. Then, our lives will be blessed once again, but only after the terrible stroms of the Final Judgement, the Apocalypse, and with it all the bad karma that man has accrued over the ages. Blessed be!

  20. What did they do to people when they surrendered in these days? I noticed alot of surrenders in this video but it looks like families stayed with each other during military deployments inside of forts which is something we never heard about in other videos.

  21. It was necessary for the British to at least make the attempt to stop, or at the least slow, the inevitable expansions of what in just a relatively short amount of time would become our globally dominant American Empire. And if we had been in their shoes we would have done far worse, I hope, because they failed to prevent the rise of the next globe spanning Empire… and ensured the fall of their own.

  22. There are more heroes and great leaders in history than most are taught about, it's just that not all of them win in the end.

  23. So, the lesson is – charisma, integrity, bravery and strength serve as pure weapons in the face of overwhelming greed

  24. Massacred his own people, used lies and deception to gain their trust and then failed to deliver…"great leader"… by what the hell standards?
    A leader, yes, a interesting leader, maybe, a "great" leader, wow… no!

    Also, the entire battle had less than 8.000 fighters on all sides. Is this a joke?
    Napoleon killed this many each damn week of campaigning in Russia! In a single battle 72.000 people got killed there!
    Somehow when it comes to "murica" every damn skirmish is a "huge battle" and every crappy standoff is a "massacre".

    I understand that US of A needs some kind of "great" enemy and that the natives where beyond crap as creating a real threat but let's not play with words. He was a "famous" native leader that barely made a dent in history of his people and his lands.
    Damn people, even during Caesar times there were native leaders that manage to get over 50.000 warriors to oppose Rome! And we don't call them "great", because they were cut down.

    Also, this two fights was by far the most pathetic battles I've seen. In one the pathetic fort commander surrenders, because natives make noise in the forest, in the second the pathetic brit commander flees and the brain dead native leader decides to stay and massacre his own troops, because, what? "A promise he made" what a sack of crap! Killing your entire fighting force because the "great leader" had a dream. What the actual.

    I have no words, it should be called "the pathetic leader" that managed to get over 15.000 young native warriors killed in less than 10 years! I refuse to celebrate war criminals and idiots….

  25. sigh, just like with the Roman slave revolts, I know how this all ends, but I can't help but sit on my hands, vainly hoping that Tecumseh will somehow end up succeeding.

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