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   Chapter 108 INTERCOURSE LAWS (1809, 1810).

Formation of the Union By Albert Bushnell Hart Characters: 1927

Updated: 2017-12-06 00:02


[Sidenote: Madison's administration.]

James Madison, who became President March 4, 1809, felt that his administration was to be a continuation of that of Jefferson; and he took over three members of Jefferson's cabinet, including Gallatin. The Secretary of State, Robert Smith, was incapable, and Madison was practically his own foreign minister.

[Sidenote: The situation abroad.]

The condition of European affairs was, on the whole, favorable to America. In 1807 Russia had formed an alliance with France and had accepted the Continental System, thus cutting off American trade; but in 1808 the French lost ground in Spain, and the Spanish and Portuguese ports were thus opened to American commerce. Nevertheless a hundred and eight merchantmen were captured by England in 1808.

[Sidenote: Non-intercourse Act.]

[Sidenote: Favorable trade.]

To defend American commerce and the national honor, the administration possessed but three weapons,-war,

retaliatory legislation, and diplomacy. War meant both danger and sacrifice; there was already a deficit in the Treasury. Congress, therefore, continued to legislate, while at the same time attempts were made to negotiate with both France and England. The Non-intercourse Act continued in force throughout 1809, and hardly impeded American commerce; trade with England and France went on through a few intermediary ports such as Lisbon and Riga, and there was a brisk direct trade under special license of one or the other of the powers. The shipping engaged in foreign trade now reached a higher point than ever before. The profits of American vessels were so great that forged American papers were openly sold in England. The defection of New England was stayed, and the President was supported by a fair majority in both Houses. It remained to be seen whether non-intercourse would have any effect in securing a withdrawal of the offensive orders and decrees.

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