Cyclopædia of Political Science, Political Economy, and the Political History of the United States

Edited by: Lalor, John J.
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Includes articles by Frédéric Bastiat, Gustave de Molinari, Henry George, J. B. Say, Francis A. Walker, and more.
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EMBARGO (IN U. S. HISTORY), a prohibition of commerce by nation al authority, which was laid in various forms and at various times from 1794 until 1815. In case of a general embargo American vessels were forbidden to leave port, foreign vessels were required to sail in ballast, or with only such cargo as they had on board at the passage of the act, and coasting vessels were required to give bonds to land their cargoes in American ports only. An embargo aimed at a particular nation was a modification known as a non-intercourse law.


—The possibility of such a suspension of commerce was certainly considered by the convention of 1787 in framing the constitution. Madison, in discussing the power to tax exports, Aug. 21, 1787, spoke as follows: "An embargo may be of absolute necessity, and can only be effectuated by the general authority."


—I. ORDERS IN COUNCIL. The opening of the French revolution, the abolition of all feudal taxes, honors and immunities, the emigration of those nobles not in sympathy with the new régime, and the practical dethronement of the king, were followed, in April, 1792 by a declaration of war by the French republic against Austria and Prussia, whose troops were drawing menacingly near the French boundaries, and whose soil was permitted to be a basis of operations for hostile emigrés. Nov. 15, 1792, the French national convention declared its hostility to any people which should maintain a prince or a privileged order, and four days afterward the same authority offered assistance to every people desirous of recovering liberty. Feb. 3, 1793, the French republic declared war against Great Britain and Holland, and before the end of the year France "had but one enemy, and that was Europe." By land the French arms were steadily successful; by sea, in spite of every public and private exertion in France, Great Britain maintained her accustomed superiority. The rule that "he who is not with us is against us" became the only international law thoroughly respected in Europe, and the steady determination of both the great belligerents, to enforce the rule upon the western continent also is the key to most of the difficulties of the United States during the next twenty years.


—A French agent (see GENET, CITIZEN.) was at once sent to the United States to rouse popular enthusiasm there, and thus compel the government to engage in the war as an active or passive ally of France. May 9, 1793, in direct violation of the treaty of 1778 between France and the United States, the national convention authorized French ships of war and privateers to stop and bring into French ports all neutral vessels loaded with "eatables" or with enemy's goods, which latter were declared good prize. The representations of Morris, the American minister, only obtained a temporary and delusive suspension of the order. June 8, 1793. Great Britain, by orders in council to her navy, directed neutral vessels bound for France with breadstuffs to be seized and brought into British ports, where the cargoes were to be paid for by the government or bonded to be landed in countries at peace with Great Britain.


—Another grievance, closely connected with the general embargo system, was the vexatious right of search and impressment claimed and exercised by British national vessels. American vessels were liable at any moment to be stopped, searched, and deprived of the services of any seamen whom a British lieutenant, backed by a file of marines, might decide to be Englishmen. Great Britain had always persistently denied the right of expatriation and change of allegiance by naturalization, and, now that she was engaged in a life or death struggle with France, she claimed the services on shipboard of all her maritime citizens, at home or abroad, no matter what ceremonies of naturalization, unrecognized by English laws, they might have undergone in any foreign country. Of course, under color of natural resemblance to Englishmen, many native-born Americans were thus forced into the British navy. The right of expatriation was at that time acknowledged by hardly any nation except the United States; but, even in the case of naturalized citizens, the right of search and impressment, vexatious enough in itself, was aggravated by the rigorous and merciless manner of its exercise by British officers of all grades, unrestrained by any probability of the disapprobation of their own government.


—Many of the American politicians who had taken part in the war of the revolution retained a firm faith in the efficacy of restrictions upon British commerce as a means of compelling justice from Great Britain (see REVOLUTION), and Madison introduced into congress, Jan. 4, 1794, a series of resolutions for the imposition of prohibitory duties upon importations from Great Britain. These resolutions, though not finally adopted, laid the foundations of the "restrictive system," which was steadily followed out by the republican party until at culminated in the war of 1812. The republican leaders in 1794, Madison, Nicholas and Giles, admitted that "our trade with Great Britain was one-half our whole commerce, while Great Britain's trade with us was but one-sixth of hers," but they insisted that the exports from the United States were essentials, while the imports were luxuries, and that an embargo, or temporary stoppage of trade, would bear but lightly upon the United States, while it would promptly bring Great Britain to hear reason. While the debates were in progress news was received of a supplementary order in council, which was dated Nov. 6, 1793, but had been kept so secret at first that the American minister was unable to obtain a copy until Dec. 25. By this order neutral ships trading with French colonies were to be seized and brought in for adjudication. The news of this order, which annihilated a profitable commerce at a blow, produced great excitement in the United States, and an embargo, the first of its kind, was laid, March 26, 1794, for thirty days, and soon afterward increased to sixty days. This had hardly been done when news was received of a modifying order in council, dated Jan. 8, 1794, restricting seizures to vessels bound directly for France from her colonies, or carrying goods belonging to Frenchmen. This modification could have had no possible connection with the embargo and yet the receipt of the news so soon after the laying of the embargo seems to have unreasonably strengthened the popular faith in the efficacy of this substitute for war with Great Britain. The embargo act was allowed to expire at the end of its limitation of sixty days, but, by the act of June 4, the president was empowered generally to lay an embargo at any time during the recess of congress until November.


—In the meantime (see JAY'S TREATY) the president had sent chief Justice Jay as minister to Great Britain to obtain redress of all the grievances alleged against that country, and, pending the results of his mission, debate on neutral rights was dropped during the next session of congress, 1794-5. Jay's treaty of Nov. 19, 1794, however objectionable in other points, as in its yielding the rights of search and impressment, at least secured some safeguards for neutral trade Claims for damages for illegal seizures by British cruisers were to be passed upon by commissioners of arbitration; the seizure of an enemy's goods in a neutral vessel was not to forfeit the whole cargo; and provisions, when taken under peculiar necessity, were to be paid for at their full value. These points in the treaty gave comparative security to American commerce while it remained in force, and for the next ten years the restrictive system was dropped. During the troubles with France (see X. Y. Z. MISSION), the act of June 12, 1798, prohibited commercial intercourse with France or her colonies. This, however, was not an embargo, in the Jeffersonian sense of the term, but a preparation for war.


—The articles in Jay's treaty, which related to neutral commerce, expired by limitation at the end of twelve years. The state of affairs at their expiration was even more unfortunate for the United States than in 1794. In 1805 almost the whole civilized world had been drawn into the whirlpool of the successive wars between Napoleon and Great Britain. Sweden, Denmark, the Hanse towns and the United States were the only neutral maritime powers, and were growing rich so rapidly by their almost complete absorption of the carrying trade that their prosperity was a constant eye-sore to British merchants and a temptation to belligerent cruisers. Commerce between France, Spain, Holland and their respective colonies, was carried on in great volume by American vessels, a landing having been formally made in the United States, in order to separate the voyages from the colony and to the mother country. The king's advocate general, in March, 1801, had acknowledged to Rufus King, the American minister to Great Britain, that "landing the goods and paying the duties in the neutral country breaks the continuity of the voyage and legalizes the trade between the mother country and the colony." This was a relaxation of the "rule of 1756," so called from its official promulgation in that year, though it had been practically enforced for twelve years previous. In its full vigor the rule of 1756 prohibited all trade by neutrals with the colonies of an enemy, and allowed British cruisers to capture all neutral vessels engaged in any such trade; the reasons for it were, in brief, that no mother country allowed such trade with its colonies in peace, and that in time of war such a trade was really an interposition in the war by the neutral, and the giving of aid to one of the belligerents.


—In May, 1805, the British court of appeals, in the case of the American vessel Essex, suddenly reversed the former line of decisions, and held that transhipment in a neutral country, if evidently fraudulent, did not break the continuity of the voyage, but left the neutral vessel liable to capture and condemnation. This decision was a signal for a general attack on neutral commerce by British armed vessels, public and private, and in the United States it at once brought the restrictive system to the surface again. April 18, 1806, after a debate of two months, a "non-importation act" was passed, which prohibited, after the following November, the importation of certain specified articles, the productions of Great Britain and her colonies. This measure seems to have been designed to strengthen the hands of William Pinkney and James Monroe, who were appointed in April joint ministers to Great Britain no negotiate a new treaty to succeed those parts of Jay's treaty which were to expire with this year. Dec. 19, 1806, the non-importation act was suspended until July 1, 1807.


—Monroe and Pinkney concluded a treaty Dec. 31, 1806, which confirmed the unexpired articles of Jay's treaty, secured the indirect neutral trade between a belligerent and its colonies by a landing in the neutral country, and exempted provisions from the list of contraband. It again yielded the rights of search and impressment, upon a verbal assurance that they would be exercised only under extraordinary circumstances; and for this reason President Jefferson declined to submit the treaty to the senate for confirmation, and ordered a continuance of the negotiation. This decision, not so much in itself as in the refusal to back it by the instant and industrious preparation of a strong naval force, laid the foundation for most of the difficulties of the following eight years. It confirmed the bent of the dominant party in the United States against the formation of a navy (see DEMOCRATIC PARTY, II., III.; GUNBOATSYSTEM), and it furnished fresh reasons and excuses for the growing anti-neutral disposition of the British government, which was not in the habit of paying any great attention to the remonstrances of arguments of a defenseless nation.


—May 16, 1806, the British government, by proclamation, declared a blockade of the coast of Germany, Holland and France, from Brest to the Elbe, a distance of about 800 miles. Against warfare of this kind Napoleon was powerless; the British islands were entirely beyond his reach, and there was no way to prevent the isolation of his European empire by the British fleets unless he could furnish those fleets with active occupation in some other quarter of the world. From this time, therefore, his consistent design seems to have been to irritate the British government into fresh exhibitions of anti-neutral temper by extraordinary reprisals of his own, in order thus to force the United States at last to assume the burden of a naval warfare against Great Britain, while he should monopolize the glory and profit of the campaigns on land. The game was entertaining to the toreador, and probably to the bull also, but the United States certainly paid the expenses of the entertainment.


—Nov. 21, 1806, after the battle of Jena, Napoleon issued his Berlin decree, in which he, who hardly possessed a vessel of war in blue water, assumed to blockade the British islands. The decree also ordered the seizure of all English property, persons and letters found on the continent. The whole decree, which began the so-called "continental system" of Napoleon, was alleged to be in retaliation for the English abuse of the right of blockade. During the ensuing year, according to Mr. Baring and the American minister to France, General Armstrong, no condemnations took place under the Berlin decree. It served its purpose better by drawing out the British orders in council of Nov. 11, 1807. This extraordinary document totally prohibited any direct trade from the United States to any port or country of Europe from which the British flag was excluded; it allowed direct trade, in American produce only, between the United States and Sweden; it ordered all articles of domestic or colonial production, exported by the United States to Europe, to be landed in England, whence their re-exportation, on paying duties, would be permitted and regulated; and it declared any vessel and cargo good prize if it carried a French consular certificate of the origin of the cargo. Napoleon retorted by the Milan decree, Dec. 7, 1807, in which he declared to be "denationalized" and good prize, whether found in continental ports or on the high seas, any vessel which should submit to search by a British vessel or should touch at or set sail for or from Great Britain or her colonies.


—With this, for a time, both parties paused, for neither could well do or say more. To quote Jefferson's subsequent expression. "England seemed to have become a den of pirates, and France a den of thieves." Both had helped to make neutrality ridiculous. By sea, a British fleet had lately, without declaring war, swooped on the Danish navy and carried it off to England, by land, a French army had lately converted Portugal from neutrality by arriving the royal family to Brazil. The United States and Sweden were the only civilized nations which were now permitted to enjoy a nominal neutrality; the latter was under the open protection of the fleets of Great Britain, and if the latest orders in council were to be submitted to, it was difficult to see, in the matter of foreign commerce, any great difference between the situation of the United States and that of any other British colony. Evidently, if the United States were to maintain rank as an independent nation, some measures of protection to their foreign commerce were imperatively demanded. The dominant party, however, was still opposed to a naval war, and Jefferson, who alone could have controlled his party, was silent; the result was a four years' effort to coerce Great Britain by the restrictive system, ending in the war of 1812.


—II.THE EMBARGO. When congress met in October, 1807, (see CONGRESS, SESSIONS OF). the exercise of the right of impressment by British officers had become almost intolerable. The number of Americans impressed was afterward officially reported by the state department as 4,579 for the period March 11, 1803 - Sept 30, 1810, omitting the time from Sept. 1, 1804, until March 31, 1806, for which the records did not account. Of this number of 1,361 were released. No estimate can be made of the number of impressments never reported to a state department where no redress could be hoped for; but the muster-books of H. B. M. ships Moselle and Sappho, captured in the packet Swallow by Commodore Rodgers in 1813, showed that one-eighth of their crews were Americans; and in another ship, the Ceres, the proportion was one-third, if we may trust the affidavits of released sailors. June 22, 1807, the British frigate Leopard had taken four men out of the United States frigate Chesapeake, after a shamefully feeble resistance. Oct. 19, 1807, the British government by proclamation had called upon all its maritime subjects serving in foreign ships to return to the service of their own country, and had directed its cruisers to enforce their return.


—The proclamation, and the retaliatory orders and decrees of the great belligerents, as far as they had been received, were communicated to congress by President Jefferson in a special message of Dec. 16, as indicating the great and increasing dangers to American commerce, with the suggestion that an "inhibition of foreign commerce" would be of advantage. The act known as "The Embargo" was at once introduced. It was passed after midnight of Dec. 21, after a consideration of four hours in the senate and three days in the house, and became law Dec. 22. A supplementary act of Jan. 9, 1808, provided that coasting vessels should not be allowed to go out without bonds to reland the cargo in some other port of the United States, and that foreign vessels should take out no specie or other cargo, except necessary sea stores. Another act, March 12, 1808, gave the executive authority to grant permission to send vessels to foreign ports to bring home American property, but this was repealed Jan.9, 1809.


—For a time the traditional belief in the efficacy of an embargo induced a sullen submission to it even by those upon whom it bore hardest, and it was formally approved by most of the state legislatures of the republican states. Within six months a great change had taken place. The suspension which the infant commerce of the United States had found tolerable for sixty days in 1794 was intolerable in 1808 to a commerce which had for fifteen years been fattening upon a dangerous but profitable neutrality. The exports, domestic and foreign, from the United States, which had risen from $20, 753, 098 in 1792 to $110,084,207 in 1807, fell in 1808 to $22,430,960. The change was too sudden; it injured not commerce alone, but every interest except domestic manufactures, and in May and June, 1808, Jefferson was constrained to admit that, unless Great Britain should speedily yield the principle of her orders in council, the embargo must be exchanged for open war. It was found that the embargo was quite satisfactory to both France and Great Britain. Napoleon praised it warmly, and even presumed to enforce it by the Bayonne decree, April 17, 1808, which ordered the seizure and sale of American vessels which should arrive in his ports in violation of it. Its surrender of the carrying trade to British merchants, and the consequent transfer of American Capital to Canada and Nova Scotia, were equally pleasing to great Britain.


—In the New England states, in which the remnants of the federal party were now concentrated, the embargo was believed to be unconstitutional, and was so decided by some of the state courts. The ground assigned was, that the unlimited suspension of the embargo was an annihilation of commerce; and was therefore a usurpation of power by congress, which was only authorized by the constitution to regulate commerce; the real reason was evidently the belief that the fundamental basis of the constitution had been violated by a factious and sectional combination of agricultural representatives for the passage of the embargo, which, though it ruined federalist New England, would save the rest of the Union the expense of war. It was therefore increasingly difficult to enforce the embargo in New England. The state legislatures, taking the ground of the Kentucky and Virginia resolutions, "intervened" for the protection of their citizens by resolutions expressive of their emphatic condemnation of the embargo. Thus countenanced and emboldened, state judges took an attitude consistently hostile to the embargo, and the federal courts in New England seldom succeeded in finding juries which would convict even for the most flagrant violations of its provisions. Smugglers crossed and recrossed the Canada border almost in organized armies, and defied federal marshals; and, to encourage sea smuggling, an order in council of April 11, 1808, forbade interference by British cruisers with American vessels bound to British colonies, though without clearances. A supplementary embargo act of April 25, 1808, therefore, placed lake, river and bay commerce in the same category as sea-going vessels, and allowed the seizure of any merchandise which should in any way excite the suspicious of the collectors.


—The second session of the 10th congress, which met Nov. 7, 1808, was at first obstinate in its support of the restrictive system. Resolutions to repeal the embargo were voted down by heavier majorities than at the first session, and on Jan. 9, 1809, an enforcing act was passed. By its terms any act done with intent to evade the embargo in any way worked a forfeiture of ship, boat or vehicle and cargo or contents, besides a fine of four times the value of both: collectors were to seize all goods "apparently on their way" to a foreign country; bonds were increased to six times the value of vessel and cargo; and absolute authority to prohibit departure, even when full bonds should be filed, was given to the collectors or the president. The act was published in mourning columns by the federalist newspapers in New England, with the motto "Liberty is dead!" Many collectors resigned, and seizures by others were met by the owners of the goods with suits for damages in state courts. Even in the United States senate a federalist declaration was made that the people were not bound to submit to the embargo act and would not submit to it, and that blood would flow in the attempt to enforce it. In February, 1809, John Quincy Adams, who had resigned his seat in the senate because his support of the embargo was disapproved by his state legislature, gave Jefferson and the other republican leaders an alarming account of the feeling in New England. He stated that the Federalist leaders had now finally decided to break the embargo, that if the federal government should attempt to use force the New England states would temporarily or permanently withdraw from the Union, and that unofficial negotiations had already been opened for British assistance. A sudden panic, attributable either to the statements of Adams, to those of Joseph Story, then a republican congressman from Massachusetts, or to both, seized the majority in congress, and a house resolution was passed, Feb. 3. fixing March 4 for the termination of the embargo. (See KENTUCKY RESOLUTIONS; SECESSION; STATE SOVEREIGNTY; ESSEX JUNTO, HENRY DOCUMENTS; CONVENTION, HARTFORD.)


—III. NON-INTERCOURSE SYSTEM. During the month of February the majority recovered in some measure from its panic, and passed, March 1, 1809, the so-called non-intercourse law, to take the place of both the non-importation act and the embargo. It was to continue until the end of the next session, but was revived and continued by the acts of June 28, 1809, May 1, 1810, and March 2, 1811. It forbade the entrance to American ports of public or private British or French vessels, all commercial intercourse with France or Great Britain, and the importation, after May 20, of goods grown or manufactured in France, Great Britain, or their colonies. Its eleventh section was as follows: "That the president of the United States be, and he hereby is authorized, in case either France or Great Britain shall so revoke or modify her edicts as that they shall cease to violate the neutral commerce of the United States, to declare the same by proclamation; after which the trade of the United States, suspended by this act, and by the act laying an embargo on all ships and vessels in the ports and harbors of the United States, and the several acts supplementary thereto, may be renewed with the nation so doing". The coasting trade was thus set free, and the trade to other countries than France and Great Britain was allowed, but any naval protection to it was still denied.


—From the end of November, 1808, D. M. Erskine, the British minister at Washington, had satisfied himself, by repeated interviews with Jefferson's cabinet, and particularly with Madison, that they were disposed to deal fairly with Great Britain. On his report, the British foreign office instructed him, Jan. 28, 1809, to withdraw the objectionable orders in council, on three conditions: 1, that all non-intercourse and non-importation acts should be revoked as to Great Britain, and left in force as to France until France should revoke her edicts; 2, that the United States should abandon the trade with French colonies, which was not lawful even in peace, according to the rule of 1756; and 3, that American vessels violating the last condition should be liable to seizure by British vessels. To the first point the American negotiators agreed; the second, they said, rested with congress, but would be completely covered by the non-intercourse law, as applied to France; and the third was unnecessary, as no American shipowner could complain of such a seizure without a confession that he had violated the non-intercourse law. Accepting these explanations, Erskine exchanged three pairs of formal notes, April 17, 18 and 19, withdrawing the orders in council; and President Madison, who had been inaugurated March 4, issued a proclamation, April 19, permitting the full renewal of trade with Great Britain after June 10. As this result placed the United States in just the same position as before the embargo, without any recall of the rights of search and imprisonment, and with the "rule of 1756" as to colonial trade still in force, the general satisfaction over the "Erskine arrangement" was a decided evidence of the lack of success of the restrictive system. But the satisfaction soon disappeared on the receipt of news that the British government had recalled Erskine in disgrace and repudiated his agreement as made in contravention of his express instructions. By proclamation of Aug. 9, 1809, the president therefore re-established the non-intercourse law as against Great Britain. The whole difficulty was ascribed by the federalists to the president's trickiness in taking advantage of the youth and inexperience of Erskine, and the same assertion was repeated in substance by Erskine's successor, Jackson, until the secretary of state refused to hold further communication with him.


—During the whole period from 1800 until 1812 there is an unusual dearth of private correspondence or other similar materials for forming a judgment of the motives of the democratic leaders. They have been charged with subservience to French policy, but their course with Erskine seems to go far to acquit them of a design to subserve any other interests than those of the United States. It is certain that the Erskine arrangement would not have received from accomplices of France the eager welcome which was given to it by Madison and his cabinet. Napoleon was so far from considering the non-intercourse law, even in its first form of application to both belligerents, as offensive to Great Britain or beneficial to France, that he made it the ground of his Rambouillet decree, March 23, 1810, by which 132 American vessels, valued at $8,000,000, which had entered the ports of France or her allies, that is, nearly all the continent, since May 20, 1809, were condemned and sold. The democratic leaders seem to have been the victims, principally, of their own ignorance, and Napoleon's perception, of the naval powers of the United States.


—IV FAILURE OF THE RESTRICTIVE SYSTEM. In January, 1810, Napoleon informed the American minister that the repeal of his various decrees was dependent on the withdrawal by Great Britain of her "paper blockade" of the continent. Toward the end of this session of congress, May 1, 1810, congress passed a new bill to take the place of the non-intercourse act, which was to expire with the session. This bill, while excluding both French and British ships of war from American harbors, left commerce entirely unrestricted, but with the proviso that, if at any time before March 3, 1811, either belligerent should withdraw its objectionable measures, and the other should fall to do so within three months, the president by proclamation should restore the non-intercourse act as to the delinquent power. This act was the first step to the war of 1812. In passing it congress had set a trap for itself, which Napoleon hastened to bait. Aug. 5,he informed the American minister that his decrees were revoked, and would cease to be in effect after Nov. 1, following, "it being understood that the English shall revoke their orders in council, or that the United States shall cause their rights to be respected by the English." The president, Nov. 2, issued a proclamation which accepted this as an absolute revocation, and Great Britain was summoned to imitate it. But, as the French emperor retained all the property confiscated under the Rambouillet decree, as the French prize courts refused to consider the decrees revoked, or to release vessels seized by virtue of them, and as Napoleon's continental system was enforced as rigidly as ever against both England and the United States, the British government refused to admit that any bona fide revocation and taken place. March 2, 1811, the non-intercourse act was revived, by statute, against Great Britain.


—Notwithstanding the long continuance of the restrictive system, the merchant marine under American colors was still large. Licenses to enter continental ports were freely sold by French consuls at high prices. In Great Britain 33,277 licenses to trade with the enemy were granted from 1802 until 1811, according to a statement in the house of commons, and the fraudulent assumption of American papers and colors was so common as to furnish one of the excuses for Napoleon's general seizures of American ships. In parliament Brougham read a circular from a Liverpool manufactory of forged American papers, the price of which was almost entitled to mention in the market reports. "Simulated papers and seals" were a matter of common newspaper advertisement, and in the courts of admiralty it was admitted that, "under present circumstances, it was necessary to wink at them."


—V. WAR. While the United States government had been endeavoring by diplomacy, by embargoes, by non-importation laws, and by non-intercourse laws, to obtain liberty for its commerce to exit; while its mendicant ambassadors had been besieging the French and British courts with expostulations and entreaties; while its merchantmen, unarmed and unprotected, had been seized with impunity to the number of over 1,500 (917 by England, 558 by France, 70 by Denmark, 47 by Naples, and an unreported number of Holland and Spain), the indignation of the people at large had been slowly gathering force until it was now past control. When the new congress met, Nov. 4, 1811, it was found that the federalists had but six senators and thirty-six representatives; that among the democrats most of the "submission men," who were anxious for peace at any price, had been defeated; and that the congress was emphatically a war congress. Its temper seems to have been equally a surprise to the democratic administration, which had grown gray in efforts to shift off war, and to the federalist leaders, who had declared that the government "could not be kicked into a war," and "had no more idea of declared that the government of the house committee on foreign relations sounded a note unusual in recent proceedings. It rehearsed the misdeeds of Great Britain in enslaving American seamen, and capturing every American vessel bound to or from any port at which her commerce was not favored; and declared that the time had come for choosing between tame submission, and resistance by all the means which God had placed within our reach. Preparations for war were at once begun. Between Dec. 24, 1811, and July 6, 1812, nineteen acts were passed, most of them for the increase of the army by the enlistment of 20,000 additional regulars and of 50,000 volunteers, and by drafting 1000,000 militia into the United States service. All this was for the invasion of Canada, which was the prime object of the war. The fact that the war was to be carried on by land rather than by sea was marked by the appropriations, which amounted to $12,000,000 for the army, and $3,000,000 for the navy. of the house committee on foreign relations sounded a note unusual in recent proceedings. It rehearsed the misdeeds of Great Britain in enslaving American seamen, and capturing every American vessel bound to or from any port at which her commerce was not favored; and declared that the time had come for choosing between tame submission, and resistance by all the means which God had placed within our reach. Preparations for war were at once begun. Between Dec. 24, 1811, and July 6, 1812, nineteen acts were passed, most of them for the increase of the army by the enlistment of 20,000 additional regulars and of 50,000 volunteers, and by drafting 1000,000 militia into the United States service. All this was for the invasion of Canada, which was the prime object of the war. The fact that the war was to be carried on by land rather than by sea was marked by the appropriations, which amounted to $12,000,000 for the army, and $3,000,000 for the navy. April 4, 1812, an embargo was laid for ninety days, an act announced by its supporters to be an act announced by its supporters to be an act preparatory to war. The president was brought to coincide with the majority (see CAUCUS, CONGRESSIONAL), and June 18, 1812, war was declared against Great Britain. (See CONVENTION, HART FORD.) June 23, the British orders in council were revoked, but the revocation was as delusive as the revocation of the French decrees had been, for it concluded with the proviso: "That nothing in this present order contained shall be understood to preclude H. R. H., the prince regent, if circumstances shall so require, from restoring, after reasonable notice, the orders of the seventh of January, 1807, and the twenty sixth of April 1809, or any part thereof, to their full effect, or from taking such other measures of retaliation against the enemy, as may appear to his royal highness to be just and necessary." On receipt of this news the British admiral, Warren, proposed a suspension of hostilities, but, as he refused to suspend the right of impressment, and as the revocation did not appear to be complete, the United States rejected the offer, and the war was prosecuted to an end (see WARS, III.) though the final peace did not secure any formal abandonment by Great Britain of the rights of search and impressment, of the "rule of 1756," or of the principle of the orders in council. At first American commerce suffered little more from actual war than it had done from the decrees and the orders in council. But the commerce from the New England states, which was encouraged by the British fleets as a means of obtaining fresh provisions, was irritating to the democratic leaders, who regarded it as an unpatriotic contribution to the support of the enemy. When it was found that the British blockade, as formally declared, May 27 and Nov. 4, 1813, extended only from Montauk point to the Mississippi, leaving the New England Coast free, the dominant party at once introduced a new embargo, Dec. 17, 1813, to continue until Jan. 1, 1815. It not only abolished foreign commerce, but imposed restrictions upon the consisting trade, which had, by collusive captures and ransoms, been made a means of commerce. April 14, 1814, this embargo was repealed, because of the downfall of Napoleon's "continental system" together with his empire.


—The restrictive system disappeared with the repeal of this last embargo. As a measure of offense the utility of an embargo was extremely doubtful at all times. Most historians have denied to it any utility whatever; but Brougham's speeches in parliament in 1812, and the affidavits and memorials of English merchants, ascribe to it, perhaps from motives of self-interest, a remarkable efficacy. Merchants and manufacturers of Manchester, Birmingham, Sheffield, Rochdale, and Leeds, in their testimony before the house of commons committee in 1812, pained a lively picture of the decrease of trade, the losses of owners, and the suffering of workmen, and charted the whole upon the American embargo. Their complaints extorted from an unwilling ministry the revocation of the orders in council before mentioned. The patent object of these order was to force the trade of the civilized world into British ports, that the duties paid upon them there might sustain the government in its long struggle with Napoleon, and only a real and general English distress could have forced a change in this policy.


—But, whatever may have been the success of the embargo in inflicting injury upon Great Britain, the American government, in enforcing it, was evidently bolding the blade of the sword and striking the enemy with the hilt. It had its origin in the unwillingness of the democratic members of congress, and their agricultural constituents of the south, west and western middle states, to endure the expense of a navy for the protection of foreign commerce. Its final abandonment was due to the discovery that foreign commerce was as necessary to agriculture as agriculture was to foreign commerce. One strong fleet would have been worth it dozen embargoes, but only experience could convince the non-commercial sections of the United States of the truth of this. As the market for breadstuffs, rice and cotton disappeared, the value of an embargo was less perceptible. But, even when it was repealed in 1809, the belief that Great Britain would "Copenhagenize" any American navy which might be formed was sufficient to deter the democratic leaders from anything bolder than non-intercourse laws, until the idea of invading Canada took root and blossomed into a declaration of war. The navy then approved its value at its first opportunity, and its victories put an end to the possibility of any future embargoes. (See UNITED STATES.)


—See, in general, 5 Elliot's Debates, 455; 5, 6 Hildreth's United States (and index); Dwigh's Hartford Convention; American Register, 1806-10; 3-5 Benton's Debates of Congress; 1, 4-6 Wait's American State Papers; 1 Statesman's Manual; 1,2 Stat. at Large. (1.) See 1 Fyffee's History of Modern Europe, 53; Hamilton's Letters of Pacificus, and other authorities under GENET, CITIZENS; 2 Sparks' Life of Gouverneur Morris, 319; 2 Pitkin's United States, 398; Baring's Orders in Council; W. B. Lawrence's Visitation and Search, 4: Trescott's Diplomatic History of the Administration of Washington and Adams, 91:1 Benton's Debates of Congress,458, 498; authorities under JAY's TREATY; 1 Lyman's Diplomacy of the United States, 224; Stephens' War in Disguise, 57;2 Tucker's Life of Jefferson, 2233; Dwight's Hartford Convention, 83: 4 Jefferson's Works (edit. 1829). 169. The act of March 26, 1764, is in 1 Stat. at Large, 400; the act of April 18, 1806, is in 2 Stat. at Large, 379. (II.) See authorities cited above, in general; 3 Benton's Debates of Congress, 640; 1 von Holst's United States, 200; 6 Hildreth's United States, 35; Carey's Olive Brach, 215; 1 Tucker's United States, 532, and 2 : 307; Massachusetts Memorial and Remonstrance to Congress (1809); Memorial of W. E Channing; 2 Rives' Life of Madison, 383, 410;3 Randall's Life of Jefferson, 282; Quincy's Life of Quincy, 162; Clay's Private Correspondence, 46; 3 Webster's Works 327; Story's Life of J. Story, 185; 4 Benton's Debates of Congress, 9. The acts of Dec. 22, 1807, Jan. 9, March 12, and April 25, 1808, are in 2 Stat. at Large, 451, 453, 473, 499 respectively. (III) See ( as to "Erskine arrangement") 6 Hildreth's United States, 168; Dwight's Hartford Convention, 101; Wait's American State Papers, (1808-9), 461. The acts of March 1 and June 28, 1809, May 1, 1810, and March 2, 1811, are in 2 Stat. at Large, 528, 550, 603, 651. (IV., V) See, of the works cited, under II. and III., Hildreth, von Holst, Benton, Rives, Quincy and Carey; 1 Ingersoll's Second War with Great Britain; 2 Calhoun's Works, 2; authorities under FEDERAL PARTY. II.; CONVENTION, HARTFORD; and CLINTON, DE WITT. The declaration of war is in 2 Stat. at Large,88.


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