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   Chapter 104 1808).

Formation of the Union By Albert Bushnell Hart Characters: 2291

Updated: 2017-12-06 00:02


[Sidenote: Jefferson's recommendations.]

The Non-importation Act, which up to this time had had no force, finally went into effect Dec. 14, 1807. Two days later news was received that the king had ordered British naval officers to exercise their assumed right of impressment. Forthwith Jefferson sent a message to Congress, hinting that England was about to prohibit American commerce altogether, and recommending an embargo so as to prevent the loss of our ships and seamen. The Senate hurried a bill through all its stages in a single day; and the House, by nearly two to one, accepted it. No foreign merchant vessel could leave an American port, except in ballast, or with a cargo then on board; no American merchantman could leave for a foreign port on any terms.

[Sidenote: The embargo evaded.]

The embargo was not really intended to save American shipping, for the owners were willing to run their own risks. The restriction was so new, so sweeping so little in accordance with the habits of the people, and so destructive to the great interests of commerce that it was systematically evaded. Vessels left port on a coasting voyage

, and slipped into a West Indian port, and perhaps returned with a West Indian cargo. Severe supplementary acts were therefore necessary. A great trade sprang up across the border into Canada, followed by new restrictions, with severe penalties and powers of search hitherto unknown in the law of the United States. On Lake Champlain, on June 13, 1808, a band of sixty armed men fired upon United States troops, and carried a raft in triumph over the border. A prosecution for treason against one of the men involved was a failure.

[Sidenote: No settlement with England.]

The expectation was that the President, backed up by the embargo, would now succeed in a negotiation with England, that atonement would be made for the "Chesapeake" outrage, and that a commercial treaty would at last be gained. Mr. George Rose came over as British minister in December, 1807; but he took the unfortunate attitude that the American government owed England an apology for action growing out of the "Chesapeake" outrage, and he returned in March without accomplishing anything: the two countries remained in an attitude of hostility throughout the year.

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