Embargo Act of 1807

The Embargo Act of 1807 was a general embargo on all foreign nations enacted by the United States Congress against Great Britain and France during the Napoleonic Wars.

The embargo was imposed in response to violations of United States neutrality, in which American merchantmen and their cargo were seized as contraband of war by the European navies. The British Royal Navy, in particular, resorted to impressment, forcing thousands of British-American seamen into service on their warships (under British law of the time, having been born British they were still subjects of the Crown). Britain and France, engaged in the Napoleonic Wars, rationalized the plunder of U.S. shipping as incidental to war and necessary for their survival. Americans saw the Chesapeake–Leopard affair as a particularly egregious example of a British violation of American neutrality. Perceived diplomatic insults and unwarranted official orders issued in support of these actions by European powers were argued by some to be grounds for a U.S. declaration of war.

President Thomas Jefferson acted with restraint as these antagonisms mounted, weighing public support for retaliation. He recommended that Congress respond with commercial warfare, rather than with military mobilization. The Embargo Act was signed into law on December 22, 1807. The anticipated effect of this measure – economic hardship for the belligerent nations – was expected to chasten Great Britain and France, and force them to end their molestation of American shipping, respect U.S. neutrality, and cease the policy of impressment. The embargo turned out to be impractical as a coercive measure, and was a failure both diplomatically and economically. As implemented, the legislation inflicted devastating burdens on the U.S. economy and the American people.

Widespread evasion of the maritime and inland trade restrictions by American merchants, as well as loopholes in the legislation, greatly reduced the impact of the embargo on the intended targets in Europe. British merchant marine appropriated the lucrative trade routes relinquished by U.S. shippers due to the embargo. Demand for English goods rose in South America, offsetting losses suffered as a result of Non-Importation Acts. The embargo undermined national unity in the U.S., provoking bitter protests, especially in New England commercial centers. The issue vastly increased support for the Federalist Party and led to huge gains in their representation in Congress and in the electoral college in 1808. The embargo had the effect of simultaneously undermining American citizens' faith that their government could execute its own laws fairly, and strengthening the conviction among America's enemies that its republican form of government was inept and ineffectual. At the end of 15 months, the embargo was revoked on March 1, 1809, in the last days of Jefferson's presidency. Tensions with Britain continued to grow, leading to the War of 1812.

Embargo Act of 1807
Great Seal of the United States (obverse)
Long titleAn Act laying an Embargo on all ships and vessels in the ports and harbors of the United States.
Statutes at LargeStat. 451
Legislative history
  • Introduced in the Senate by Samuel Smith on December 18, 1807
  • Passed the Senate on December 18, 1807 (22–6)
  • Passed the House on December 21, 1807 (82–44) with amendment
  • Senate agreed to House amendment on December 22, 1807 (unknown votes)
  • Signed into law by President Thomas Jefferson on December 22, 1807
Major amendments
Repealed by Non-Intercourse Act § 19


After the short truce in 1802–1803 the European wars resumed and continued until the defeat of Napoleon in 1814.[1] The war caused American relations with both Britain and France to deteriorate rapidly. There was grave risk of war with one or the other. With Britain supreme on the sea, and France on the land, the war developed into a struggle of blockade and counterblockade. This commercial war peaked in 1806 and 1807. Britain's Royal Navy shut down most European harbors to American ships unless they first traded through British ports. France declared a paper blockade of Britain (which it lacked a navy to enforce) and seized American ships that obeyed British regulations. The Royal Navy needed large numbers of sailors, and saw the U.S. merchant fleet as a haven for British sailors.[2]

Official Presidential portrait of Thomas Jefferson (by Rembrandt Peale, 1800)
Thomas Jefferson

The British system of impressment humiliated and dishonored the U.S. because it was unable to protect its ships and their sailors.[3] This British practice of taking British deserters, and often Americans, from American ships and forcing them into the Royal Navy increased greatly after 1803, and caused bitter anger in the United States.

On June 21, 1807 the American warship USS Chesapeake was attacked and boarded on the high seas off the coast of Norfolk, VA[4] by the British warship HMS Leopard. Three Americans were dead and 18 wounded; the British impressed four seamen with American papers as alleged deserters. The outraged nation demanded action; President Jefferson ordered all British ships out of American waters.[5]

Initial legislation

Passed on December 22, 1807, the Act:[6]

  • laid an embargo on all ships and vessels under U.S. jurisdiction,
  • prevented all ships and vessels from obtaining clearance to undertake in voyages to foreign ports or places,
  • allowed the President of the United States to make exceptions for vessels under his immediate direction,
  • authorized the President to enforce via instructions to revenue officers and the Navy,
  • was not constructed to prevent the departure of any foreign ship or vessel, with or without cargo on board,
  • required a bond or surety from merchant ships on a voyage between U.S. ports, and
  • exempted warships from the embargo provisions.

This shipping embargo was a cumulative addition to the Non-importation Act of 1806 (2 Stat. 379), this earlier act being a "Prohibition of the Importation of certain Goods and Merchandise from the Kingdom of Great Britain"; the prohibited imported goods being defined where their chief value which consists of leather, silk, hemp or flax, tin or brass, wool, glass; in addition paper goods, nails, hats, clothing, and beer.[7]

The Embargo Act of 1807 is codified at 2 Stat. 451 and formally titled "An Embargo laid on Ships and Vessels in the Ports and Harbours of the United States". The bill was drafted at the request of President Thomas Jefferson and subsequently passed by the Tenth U.S. Congress, on December 22, 1807, during Session 1; Chapter 5. Congress initially acted to enforce a bill prohibiting imports, but supplements to the bill eventually banned exports as well.

Impact on U.S.

The embargo, which lasted from December 1807 to March 1809 effectively throttled American overseas trade. All areas of the United States suffered. In commercial New England and the Middle Atlantic states, ships sat idle at the wharves, and in the agricultural areas, particularly in the South, farmers and planters could not sell their crops on the international market. For New England, and especially for the Middle Atlantic states, there was some consolation, for the scarcity of European goods meant that a definite stimulus was given to the development of American industry.

The embargo was a financial disaster for the Americans because the British were still able to export goods to America: initial loopholes overlooked smuggling by coastal vessels from Canada, whaling ships and privateers from overseas; and widespread disregard of the law meant enforcement was difficult.[8]

A 2005 study by economic historian Douglas Irwin estimates that the embargo cost about 5 percent of America's 1807 GNP.[9]

Case studies

A case study of Rhode Island shows the embargo devastated shipping-related industries, wrecked existing markets, and caused an increase in opposition to the Democratic–Republican Party. Smuggling was widely endorsed by the public, who viewed the embargo as a violation of their rights. Public outcry continued, helping the Federalists regain control of the state government in 1808–09. The case is a rare example of American national foreign policy altering local patterns of political allegiance. Despite its unpopular nature, the Embargo Act did have some limited, unintended benefits to the Northeastern region especially as it drove capital and labor into New England textile and other manufacturing industries, lessening America's reliance on the British.[10]

In Vermont, the embargo was doomed to failure on the Lake Champlain–Richelieu River water route because of Vermont's dependence on a Canadian outlet for produce. At St. John, Lower Canada, £140,000 worth of goods smuggled by water were recorded there in 1808 – a 31% increase over 1807. Shipments of ashes (used to make soap) nearly doubled to £54,000, but lumber dropped 23% to £11,200. Manufactured goods, which had expanded to £50,000 since Jay's Treaty of 1795, fell over 20%, especially articles made near tidewater. Newspapers and manuscripts recorded more lake activity than usual, despite the theoretical reduction in shipping that should accompany an embargo. The smuggling was not restricted to water routes, as herds were readily driven across the uncontrollable land border. Southbound commerce gained two-thirds overall, but furs dropped a third. Customs officials maintained a stance of vigorous enforcement throughout and Gallatin's Enforcement Act (1809) was a party issue. Many Vermonters preferred the embargo's exciting game of revenuers versus smugglers, bringing high profits, versus mundane, low-profit normal trade.[11]

The New England merchants who evaded the embargo were imaginative, daring, and versatile in their violation of federal law. Gordinier (2001) examines how the merchants of New London, Connecticut, organized and managed the cargoes purchased and sold, and the vessels used during the years before, during, and after the embargo. Trade routes and cargoes, both foreign and domestic, along with the vessel types, and the ways their ownership and management were organized show the merchants of southeastern Connecticut evinced versatility in the face of crisis.[12]

Gordinier (2001) concludes the versatile merchants sought alternative strategies for their commerce, and to a lesser extent, for their navigation. They tried extra-legal activities, a reduction in the size of the foreign fleet, and the re-documentation of foreign trading vessels into domestic carriage. Most importantly, they sought new domestic trading partners, and took advantage of the political power of Jedidiah Huntington, the Customs Collector. Huntington was an influential member of the Connecticut leadership class (called "the Standing Order"); he allowed scores of embargoed vessels to depart for foreign ports under the guise of "special permission." Old modes of sharing vessel ownership in order to share the risk proved to be hard to modify. Instead established relationships continued through the embargo crisis, in spite of numerous bankruptcies.[12]

Enforcement efforts

Jefferson's Secretary of the Treasury Albert Gallatin was against the entire embargo, foreseeing correctly the impossibility of enforcing the policy and the negative public reaction. "As to the hope that it may...induce England to treat us better," wrote Gallatin to Jefferson shortly after the bill had become law, "I think is entirely groundless...government prohibitions do always more mischief than had been calculated; and it is not without much hesitation that a statesman should hazard to regulate the concerns of individuals as if he could do it better than themselves."[13]:368

Since the bill hindered U.S. ships from leaving American ports bound for foreign trade; it had the side-effect of hindering American exploration.

First supplementary act

Just weeks later, on January 8, 1808, legislation again passed the Tenth U.S. Congress, Session 1; Chapter 8: "An Act supplementary..." to the Embargo Act (2 Stat. 453). As historian Forrest McDonald wrote, "A loophole had been discovered" in the initial enactment, "namely that coasting vessels, and fishing and whaling boats" had been exempt from the embargo, and they had been circumventing it, primarily via Canada. This supplementary act extended the bonding provision (i.e. Section 2 of the initial Embargo Act) to those of purely domestic trades:[14]

  • Sections 1 and 2 of the supplementary act required bonding to coasting, fishing and whaling ships and vessels. Even river boats had to post bond.
  • Section 3 made violations of either the initial or supplementary act an offense; failure of the shipowner to comply would result in forfeiture of the ship and its cargo, or a fine of double that value, and denial of credit for use in custom duties; a captain failing to comply would be fined between one and twenty thousand dollars, and would forfeit the ability to swear an oath before any customs officer.
  • Section 4 removed the warship exemption from applying to privateers or vessels with a letter of marque.
  • Section 5 established a fine for foreign ships loading merchandise for export, and allowed for its seizure.

Meanwhile, Jefferson requested authorization from Congress to raise 30,000 troops from the current standing army of 2,800. Congress refused. With their harbors for the most part unusable in the winter anyway, New England and the north ports of the mid-Atlantic states had paid little notice to the previous embargo acts. That was to change with the spring thaw, and the passing of yet another embargo act.[13]:147

With the coming of the spring, the effect of the previous acts were immediately felt throughout the coastal states, especially in New England. An economic downturn turned into a depression and caused increasing unemployment. Protests occurred up and down the eastern coast. Most merchants and shippers simply ignored the laws. On the Canada–US border, especially in upstate New York and Vermont, the embargo laws were openly flouted. Federal officials believed parts of Maine, such as Passamaquoddy Bay on the border with British-held New Brunswick, were in open rebellion. By March, an increasingly frustrated Jefferson was resolved to enforce the embargo to the letter.

Other supplements to the Act

On March 12, 1808, Congress passed and Jefferson signed into law yet another supplement to the Embargo Act. This supplement prohibited, for the first time, all exports of any goods, whether by land or by sea. Violators were subject to a fine of US$10,000, plus forfeiture of goods, per offense. It granted the President broad discretionary authority to enforce, deny, or grant exceptions to the embargo.[13]:144 Port authorities were authorized to seize cargoes without a warrant and to try any shipper or merchant who was thought to have merely contemplated violating the embargo.

Despite the added penalties, citizens and shippers openly ignored the embargo. Protests continued to grow; and so it was that the Jefferson administration requested and Congress rendered yet another embargo act.


An 1807 political cartoon showing merchants caught by a snapping turtle named "Ograbme" ("Embargo" spelled backwards). The embargo was also ridiculed in the New England press as Dambargo, Mob-Rage, or Go-bar-'em.

The Embargo was hurting the United States as much as Britain or France. Britain, expecting to suffer most from the American regulations, built up a new South American market for its exports, and the British shipowners were pleased that American competition had been removed by the action of the U.S. government.

Jefferson placed himself in a strange position with his Embargo policy. Though he had so frequently and eloquently argued for as little government intervention as possible, he now found himself assuming extraordinary powers in an attempt to enforce his policy. The presidential election of 1808, in which James Madison defeated Charles Cotesworth Pinckney, showed that the Federalists were regaining strength, and helped to convince Jefferson and Madison that the Embargo would have to be removed.[15]

Shortly before leaving office, in March 1809, Jefferson signed the repeal of the failed Embargo. Despite its unpopular nature, the Embargo Act did have some limited, unintended benefits, especially as entrepreneurs and workers responded by bringing in fresh capital and labor into New England textile and other manufacturing industries, lessening America's reliance on the British merchants.[10][16]

Repealing the legislation

On March 1, 1809, Congress passed the Non-Intercourse Act, a law that enabled the President, once the wars of Europe ended, to declare the country sufficiently safe and to allow foreign trade with certain nations.[17]

In 1810 the government was ready to try yet another tactic of economic coercion, in the desperate measure known as Macon's Bill Number 2.[18] This bill became law on May 1, 1810, and replaced the Non-Intercourse Act. It was an acknowledgment of the failure of economic pressure to coerce the European powers. Trade with both Britain and France was now thrown open, and the United States attempted to bargain with the two belligerents. If either power would remove her restrictions on American commerce, the United States would reapply non-intercourse against the power that had not so acted. Napoleon quickly took advantage of this opportunity. He promised that his Berlin and Milan Decrees would be repealed, and Madison reinstated non-intercourse against Britain in the fall of 1810. Though Napoleon did not fulfill his promise, strained Anglo-American relations prevented his being brought to task for his duplicity.[19]

The attempt of Jefferson and Madison to resist aggression by peaceful means gained a belated success in June 1812 when Britain finally promised to repeal their Orders in Council. The British concession was too late, for by the time the news reached America the United States had already declared the War of 1812 against Britain.

Wartime legislation

America's declaration of war, in mid-June 1812, was followed shortly by the Enemy Trade Act of 1812 on July 6, which employed similar restrictions as previous legislation; it was likewise ineffective and tightened in December 1813, and debated for further tightening in December 1814. After existing embargoes expired with the onset of war, the Embargo Act of 1813 was signed into law December 17, 1813. Four new restrictions were included: An embargo prohibiting all American ships and goods from leaving port; a complete ban on certain commodities customarily produced in the British Empire; a ban against foreign ships trading in American ports unless 75% of the crew were citizens of the ship's flag; and a ban on ransoming ships. The Embargo of 1813 was the nation's last great trade restriction. Never again would the US government cut off all its trade to achieve a foreign policy objective.[20] The act particularly hurt the northeastern states, since the British kept a tighter blockade on the south, and thus encouraged American opposition to the administration. To make his point, the act was not lifted by Madison until after the defeat of Napoleon, and the point was moot. On February 15, 1815, Madison signed the Enemy Trade Act of 1815; it was tighter than any previous trade restriction including the Enforcement Act of 1809 (January 9) and the Embargo of 1813, but it would expire two weeks later when official word of peace from Ghent was received.[21]

See also


  1. ^ Napoleon's brief "Hundred Days" return in 1815 had no bearing on the U.S.
  2. ^ DeToy, Brian (1998). "The Impressment of American Seamen during the Napoleonic Wars". Consortium on Revolutionary Europe 1750–1850: Selected Papers, 1998. Florida State University. pp. 492–501.
  3. ^ Gilje, Paul A. (Spring 2010). "'Free Trade and Sailors' Rights': The Rhetoric of the War of 1812". Journal of the Early Republic. 30 (1): 1–23. doi:10.1353/jer.0.0130.
  4. ^ "Embargo of 1807". Monticello and the Thomas Jefferson Foundation. Retrieved December 18, 2015.
  5. ^ Tucker, Spencer C.; Reuter, Frank T. (1996). Injured Honor: The Chesapeake-Leopard Affair. Naval Institute Press. ISBN 1-55750-824-0.
  6. ^ 2 Stat. 451 (1807) Library of Congress, U.S. Congressional Documents and Debates, 1774–1875
  7. ^ 2 Stat. 379 (1806) Library of Congress, U.S. Congressional Documents and Debates, 1774–1875
  8. ^ Malone, Dumas (1974). Jefferson the President: The Second Term. Boston: Brown-Little. ISBN 0-316-54465-5.
  9. ^ Irwin, Douglas (September 2005). "The Welfare Cost of Autarky: Evidence from the Jeffersonian Trade Embargo, 1807–09" (PDF). Review of International Economics. 13 (4): 631–645. doi:10.1111/j.1467-9396.2005.00527.x.
  10. ^ a b Strum, Harvey (May 1994). "Rhode Island and the Embargo of 1807" (PDF). Rhode Island History. 52 (2): 58–67. ISSN 0035-4619. Although the state's manufacturers benefited from the embargo, taking advantage of the increased demand for domestically produced goods (especially cotton products), and merchants with idle capital were able to move from shipping and trade into manufacturing, this industrial growth did not compensate for the considerable distress that the embargo caused.
  11. ^ Muller, H. Nicholas III (Winter 1970). "Smuggling into Canada: How the Champlain Valley Defied Jefferson's Embargo" (PDF). Vermont History. 38 (1): 5–21.
  12. ^ a b Gordinier, Glenn Stine (January 2001). Versatility in Crisis: The Merchants of the New London Customs District Respond to the Embargo of 1807–1809 (PhD dissertation). U. of Connecticut. AAI3004842.
  13. ^ a b c Adams, Henry (1879). Gallatin to Jefferson, December 1807. The Writings of Albert Gallatin. 1. Philadelphia: Lippincott.
  14. ^ 2 Stat. 453 (1808) Library of Congress, U.S. Congressional Documents and Debates, 1774–1875
  15. ^ Tucker, Robert W.; Hendrickson, David C. (1990). "Chapter 20". Empire of Liberty: The Statecraft of Thomas Jefferson. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-506207-8.
  16. ^ Frankel, Jeffrey A. (June 1982). "The 1807–1809 Embargo Against Great Britain". Journal of Economic History. 42 (2): 291–308. JSTOR 2120129.
  17. ^ Heidler, David Stephen; Heidler, Jeanne T., eds. (2004). Encyclopedia of the War of 1812. Naval Institute Press. pp. 390–91. ISBN 978-1-591-14362-8.
  18. ^ Wills, Garry (2002). James Madison: The 4th President, 1809–1817. The American Presidents Series. 4. p. 87. ISBN 978-0-8050-6905-1.
  19. ^ Merrill, Dennis; Paterson, Thomas (September 2009). Major Problems in American Foreign Relations: To 1920. Cengage Learning. pp. 132–33. ISBN 978-0-547-21824-3. Retrieved December 21, 2011.
  20. ^ Hickey, Donald R. "Ch.7: The Last Embargo". The War of 1812 – A Forgotten Conflict. pp. 172, 181.
  21. ^ Tucker, Spencer C.; Arnold, James R., eds. (2012). The Encyclopedia Of the War Of 1812, a political, social, and military history. ABC-CLIO. pp. 221–25. ISBN 1-85109-956-5.

Further reading

  • Hofstadter, Richard. 1948. The American Political Tradition (Chapter 11) Alfred A. Knopf. in Essays on the Early Republic, 1789–1815 Leonard Levy, Editor. Dryden Press, 1974.
  • Irwin, Douglas A. (2005). "The Welfare Cost of Autarky: Evidence from the Jeffersonian Trade Embargo, 1807–09". Review of International Economics. 13 (4): 631–45. doi:10.1111/j.1467-9396.2005.00527.x.
  • Kaplan, Lawrence S. (1957). "Jefferson, the Napoleonic Wars, and the Balance of Power". William and Mary Quarterly. 14 (2): 196–217. doi:10.2307/1922110. JSTOR 1922110. in Essays on the Early Republic, 1789–1815 Leonard Levy, Editor. Dryden Press, 1974.
  • Levy, Leonard W. (1963). Jefferson and Civil Liberties: The Darker Side. Cambridge: Belknap Press.
  • Levy, Leonard. 1974. Essays on the Early Republic, 1789–1815. Dryden Press, 1974.
  • McDonald, Forrest (1976). The Presidency of Thomas Jefferson. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas. ISBN 0-7006-0147-3.
  • Malone, Dumas (1974). Jefferson the President: The Second Term. Boston: Little, Brown. ISBN 0-316-54465-5.
  • Mannix, Richard (1979). "Gallatin, Jefferson, and the Embargo of 1808". Diplomatic History. 3 (2): 151–72. doi:10.1111/j.1467-7709.1979.tb00307.x.
  • Muller, H. Nicholas (1970). "Smuggling into Canada: How the Champlain Valley Defied Jefferson's Embargo". Vermont History. 38 (1): 5–21. ISSN 0042-4161.
  • Perkins, Bradford. 1968. Embargo: Alternative to War (Chapter 8 from Prologue to War: England and the United States, 1805–1812, University of California Press, 1968) in Essays on the Early Republic 1789–1815. Leonard Levy, Editor. Dryden Press, 1974.
  • Sears, Louis Martin (1927). Jefferson and the Embargo. Durham: Duke University Press.
  • Smelser, Marshall (1968). The Democratic Republic, 1801–1815. New York: Harper & Row. ISBN 0-06-131406-4.
  • Smith, Joshua M. (1998). "'So Far Distant from the Eyes of Authority:' Jefferson's Embargo and the U.S. Navy, 1807–1809". In Symonds, Craig (ed.). New Interpretations in Naval History: Selected Papers from the Twelfth Naval History Symposium. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press. pp. 123–40. ISBN 1-55750-624-8.
  • Smith, Joshua M. (2000). "Murder on Isle au Haut: Violence and Jefferson's Embargo in Coastal Maine, 1808–1809". Maine History. 39 (1): 17–40.
  • Smith, Joshua M. (2006). Borderland Smuggling: Patriots, Loyalists, and Illicit Trade in the Northeast, 1783–1820. Gainesville: University Press of Florida. ISBN 0-8130-2986-4.
  • Spivak, Burton (1979). Jefferson's English Crisis: Commerce, Embargo, and the Republican Revolution. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia. ISBN 0-8139-0805-1.
  • Strum, Harvey (1994). "Rhode Island and the Embargo of 1807". Rhode Island History. 52 (2): 58–67. ISSN 0035-4619.

External links

1808 United States presidential election

The United States presidential election of 1808 was the sixth quadrennial presidential election, held from Friday, November 4, to Wednesday, December 7, 1808. The Democratic-Republican candidate James Madison defeated Federalist candidate Charles Cotesworth Pinckney decisively. Madison's victory made him the first individual to succeed a president of the same party.

Madison had served as Secretary of State since President Thomas Jefferson took office in 1801. Jefferson, who had declined to run for a third term, threw his strong support behind Madison, a fellow Virginian. Sitting Vice President George Clinton and former Ambassador James Monroe both challenged Madison for leadership of the party, but Madison won his party's nomination and Clinton was re-nominated as vice president. The Federalists chose to re-nominate Pinckney, a former ambassador who had served as the party's 1804 nominee.

Despite the unpopularity of the Embargo Act of 1807, Madison won the vast majority of electoral votes outside of the Federalist stronghold of New England. Clinton received six electoral votes for president from his home state of New York. This election was the first of two instances in American history in which a new president was selected but the incumbent vice president won re-election, the other being in 1828.

1808 and 1809 United States House of Representatives elections

Elections to the United States House of Representatives for the 11th Congress were held in the various states between April 1808 (in New York) and May 1809 (in Tennessee). The Congress first met on May 22, 1809.

Although the Democratic-Republicans maintained control of the presidency (under James Madison) and Congress after the election of 1808, Federalists made significant gains in the House, mainly due to the unpopularity of the Embargo Act of 1807. In particular, voters in New England, who often had ties to the shipping or manufacturing industries, overwhelmingly chose to send Federalists to Washington. Economic stagnation due to the closing of the export market and fears that Democratic-Republican policies had the potential for leading America into a naval war with France or Britain were key issues that allowed for a brief Federalist resurgence. The Democratic-Republicans were left with a majority under two-thirds for the first time since the election of 1800 and 1801.

1810 and 1811 United States House of Representatives elections

Elections to the United States House of Representatives for the 12th Congress were held in the various states between April 1810 (in New York) and August 1811 (in Tennessee) during James Madison's first term in office. Louisiana elected its first representative in September 1812. Congress assembled on November 4, 1811. The first session witnessed the unprecedented occurrence of a new member, Henry Clay, being elected Speaker of the House. This has happened only once since, in 1860 when William Pennington was elected to the post.With the repeal of the Embargo Act of 1807, the Democratic-Republicans enjoyed a renewed popularity. As the economy improved following the reopening of the export market, many of the seats that had entered Federalist hands over economic concerns reverted to the Democratic-Republicans, who were able to re-claim the two-thirds majority they had lost in the previous election.

Dick the Mockingbird

Dick the Mockingbird was the name of one of U.S. president Thomas Jefferson's pet birds. Although there had been previous presidential pets, Jefferson is thought to be "the first president to have a pet [that lived] in the White House..." Prior to his term in the Oval Office, Jefferson bought his first mockingbird in November 1772 from a slave of his father-in-law John Wayles for five shillings. Birds were Jefferson's favorite animal and Dick was the favorite from among at least four mockingbirds the president had while in office. During his time in the White House, Jefferson wrote observations on the types of birds that he spotted in the area. In May 1793, in response to a letter from his son-in-law Thomas Mann Randolph, Jefferson wrote: "I sincerely congratulate you on the arrival of the mockingbird. Teach all the children to venerate it as a superior being which will haunt them if any harm is done to itself or its eggs."

Henry letters

The Henry Letters were correspondence by an adventurer named John Henry with the Governor General of Canada, Sir James Craig in 1809. The letters documented Henry's efforts to determine Federalist sympathies to have the New England states leave the United States and join the British Empire. A bundle of letters was sold to President James Madison for $50,000. The letters were fraudulent, but both the President and his fellow Republicans in Congress were deceived on the eve of the War of 1812.Henry left the United States for France shortly before the letters were made public on March 9, 1812 in a message to Congress by President Madison. Historians have been sharply critical of Madison's actions. Leopold writes, "In buying sight unseen, in February, 1812, the worthless Henry letters at the cost of a badly needed frigate in order to expose the supposed intrigues of the New England Federalists, Madison and Secretary of State Monroe looked like fools as well as knaves."

James Lloyd (Massachusetts politician)

James Lloyd (December 1769 – April 5, 1831) was a merchant, businessman and Federalist party politician from Massachusetts during the early years of the United States. He twice served as United States Senator, notably succeeding John Quincy Adams after the latter lost the party vote due to his support of the Embargo Act of 1807.

Jeffersonian democracy

Jeffersonian democracy, named after its advocate Thomas Jefferson, was one of two dominant political outlooks and movements in the United States from the 1790s to the 1820s. The term was commonly used to refer to the Democratic-Republican Party (formally named the "Republican Party"), which Jefferson founded in opposition to the Federalist Party of Alexander Hamilton. The Jeffersonians were deeply committed to American republicanism, which meant opposition to what they considered to be artificial aristocracy, opposition to corruption, and insistence on virtue, with a priority for the "yeoman farmer", "planters", and the "plain folk".They were antagonistic to the aristocratic elitism of merchants, bankers, and manufacturers, distrusted factory workers, and were on the watch for supporters of the dreaded British system of government. Jeffersonian democracy persisted as an element of the Democratic Party into the early 20th century, as exemplified by the rise of Jacksonian democracy and the three presidential candidacies of William Jennings Bryan. Its themes continue to echo in the 21st century, particularly among the Libertarian and Republican parties.At the beginning of the Jeffersonian era, only two states (Vermont and Kentucky) had established universal white male suffrage by abolishing property requirements. By the end of the period, more than half of the states had followed suit, including virtually all of the states in the Old Northwest. States then also moved on to allowing popular votes for presidential elections, canvassing voters in a more modern style. Jefferson's party, known today as the Democratic-Republican Party, was then in full control of the apparatus of government—from the state legislature and city hall to the White House.

John Fabyan Parrott

John Fabyan Parrott (August 8, 1767 – July 9, 1836) was a United States Representative and a Senator from New Hampshire.

He was born in Portsmouth to John Parrott, a merchant and ship captain, and his wife Deborah Parker. He followed his father's line of work and began trading in Europe and the Caribbean, something which stopped with the passing of the Embargo Act of 1807. Parrott was a member of the New Hampshire House of Representatives from 1809 to 1814 and also held various local offices. He was an unsuccessful candidate for election in 1812 to the Thirteenth Congress, but was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives for the Fifteenth Congress, serving from March 4, 1817 to March 3, 1819. He was then elected to the U.S. Senate and served from March 4, 1819 to March 3, 1825. He was a Democratic Republican (later Adams-Clay Republican).

Later, in 1826, he was the postmaster of Portsmouth. He was also a member of the New Hampshire Senate from 1830 to 1831. He died in Greenland, New Hampshire and was interred in the family burying ground on the Parrott estate. His papers are kept at the University of North Carolina.His sons included Robert Parker Parrott and Peter Pearse Parrott.

Mary Dixon Kies

Mary Dixon Kies (March 21, 1752 – 1837) was an American inventor. On May 5, 1809, her patent for a new technique of weaving straw with silk and thread to make hats was signed by President James Madison. She was the first woman to receive a U.S. Patent.

Non-Intercourse Act (1809)

In the last sixteen days of President Thomas Jefferson's presidency, the Congress replaced the Embargo Act of 1807 with the almost unenforceable Non-Intercourse Act of March 1809. This Act lifted all embargoes on American shipping except for those bound for British or French ports. Its intent was to damage the economies of the United Kingdom and France. Like its predecessor, the Embargo Act, it was mostly ineffective, and contributed to the coming of the War of 1812. In addition, it seriously damaged the economy of the United States. The Non-Intercourse Act

was followed by Macon's Bill Number 2. Despite hurting the economy as a whole, the bill did help America begin to industrialize, as no British manufactured goods could be imported, so these goods instead had to be produced domestically.

Non-importation Act

The Non-Importation Act was an act passed by the United States Congress on April 18, 1806, which forbade the importation of certain British goods in an attempt to coerce Great Britain to suspend its impressment of American sailors and to respect American sovereignty and neutrality on the high seas. This was the first attempt of President Thomas Jefferson's administration to respond economically, instead of militarily, to the British actions. The act was suspended, but was quickly replaced by the Embargo Act of 1807, which imposed more trade restrictions with Britain, as well as with France. It was one of the acts leading up to the War of 1812.

Smugglers Notch

Smugglers' Notch (or Smugglers or Smuggler's) is a mountain pass in Lamoille County, Vermont.

The notch separates Mount Mansfield, the highest peak of the Green Mountains, from Spruce Peak and the Sterling Range.

Most of the notch is in Mount Mansfield State Forest.

North of the height of land, Smugglers Notch is drained by the Brewster River, which drains into the Lamoille River, and into Lake Champlain.

To the south, the notch is drained by the West Branch Waterbury River, thence into the Little River, the Winooski River, and into Lake Champlain.

In turn, Lake Champlain drains into the Richelieu River in Quebec, thence into the Saint Lawrence River, and into the Gulf of Saint Lawrence.

Smugglers' Notch derives its name from activities precipitated by a request of President Thomas Jefferson to prevent American involvement in the Napoleonic Wars. The Embargo Act of 1807 forbade American trade with Great Britain and Canada. But proximity to Montreal made it a convenient trading partner, and the Act caused great hardship for Vermonters, many of whom continued the illegal trade with Canada, carrying goods and herding livestock through the Notch. Fugitive slaves also used the Notch as an escape route to Canada. The route was improved to accommodate automobile traffic in 1922 thus providing a route for liquor to be brought in from Canada during the Prohibition years.

Smugglers' Notch State Park was created near the Notch by the depression-era Civilian Conservation Corps. In 2003 the park was relocated, allowing for a larger campground and new, modern facilities incorporating alternative energy. In order to preserve the work of these pioneering conservationists, all original structures created by the CCC were painstakingly relocated to the new site.

The Long Trail, a 272-mile (438-km) hiking trail running the length of Vermont, traverses Smugglers‘ Notch.

The trail down from the summit of Mt. Mansfield to the east reaches the road south of the height of the pass, and resumes across Route 108 at the Barnes Camp Visitor Center, climbing east to the summit of Madonna Peak.

Smugglers' Notch Resort is located on the northeast side of the pass on the northern side of the Sterling Range with developments on Spruce Peak (referred to as Sterling Mountain by the resort), Madonna Peak (referred to as Madonna Mountain by the resort), and the lower portion of Morse Mountain. The resort takes its name from the pass.

Stowe Mountain Resort straddles the southern end of the pass, with developments on both Mt. Mansfield and Spruce Peak. Recent developments of the Stowe Mountain Resort after the Vail acquisition have included steam-heating of the road through Smugglers Notch, allowing it to remain open all year around.

Timothy Pickering

Timothy Pickering (July 17, 1745 – January 29, 1829) was a politician from Massachusetts who served in a variety of roles, most notably as the third United States Secretary of State under Presidents George Washington and John Adams. He also represented Massachusetts in both houses of Congress as a member of the Federalist Party.

Born in Salem, Massachusetts, Pickering began a legal career after graduating from Harvard University. He won election to the Massachusetts General Court and served as a county judge. He also became an officer in the colonial militia and served in the Siege of Boston during the early stages of the American Revolutionary War. Later in the war, he was Adjutant General and Quartermaster General of the Continental Army. After the war, Pickering moved to the Wyoming Valley of Pennsylvania and took part in the then colony's 1787 ratifying convention for the United States Constitution.

President Washington appointed Pickering to the position of Postmaster General in 1791. After briefly serving as Secretary of War, Pickering became the Secretary of State in 1795, and remained in that office after President Adams was inaugurated. As Secretary of State, Pickering favored close relations with Britain. President Adams dismissed him in 1800 due to Pickering's opposition to peace with France during the Quasi-War.

Pickering won election to represent Massachusetts in the United States Senate in 1803, becoming an ardent opponent of the Embargo Act of 1807. He continued to support Britain in the Napoleonic Wars, famously describing the country as "The World's last hope - Britain's Fast-anchored Isle." He left the Senate in 1811 but served in the United States House of Representatives from 1813 to 1817. During the War of 1812 he became a leader of the New England secession movement and helped organize the Hartford Convention. The fallout from the convention ended Pickering's political career. He lived as a farmer in Salem until his death in 1829.

USS Argus (1803)

The first USS Argus, originally named USS Merrimack, was a brig in the United States Navy commissioned in 1803. She enforced the Embargo Act of 1807 and fought in the First Barbary War – taking part in the blockade of Tripoli and the capture of Derna – and the War of 1812. During the latter inflict, she had been audaciously raiding British merchant shipping in British home waters for a month, when the heavier British Cruizer-class brig-sloop HMS Pelican intercepted her. After a sharp fight during which Argus's captain, Master Commandant William Henry Allen, was mortally wounded, Argus surrendered when the crew of Pelican were about to board.

USS Chesapeake (1799)

Chesapeake was a 38-gun wooden-hulled, three-masted heavy frigate of the United States Navy. She was one of the original six frigates whose construction was authorized by the Naval Act of 1794. Joshua Humphreys designed these frigates to be the young navy's capital ships. Chesapeake was originally designed as a 44-gun frigate but construction delays, material shortages, and budget problems caused builder Josiah Fox to alter her design to 38 guns. Launched at the Gosport Navy Yard on 2 December 1799, Chesapeake began her career during the Quasi-War with France and saw service in the First Barbary War.

On 22 June 1807 she was fired upon by HMS Leopard of the Royal Navy for refusing to comply with a search for deserters. The event, now known as the Chesapeake–Leopard Affair, angered the American populace and government and was a precipitating factor that led to the War of 1812. As a result of the affair, Chesapeake's commanding officer, James Barron, was court-martialed and the United States instituted the Embargo Act of 1807 against Great Britain.

Early in the War of 1812 she made one patrol and captured five British merchant ships before returning. She was captured by HMS Shannon shortly after sailing from Boston, Massachusetts, on 1 June 1813. The Royal Navy took her into their service as HMS Chesapeake, where she served until she was broken up and her timbers sold in 1819; they are now part of the Chesapeake Mill in Wickham, England.

USS Scourge (1812)

USS Scourge was an American warship converted from a confiscated Canadian merchant schooner. She foundered along with the American warship Hamilton during a squall on Lake Ontario at 2:00am on Sunday, August 8, 1813,. during the War of 1812.

Scourge began its career as the schooner Lord Nelson, named after the famous British Admiral Horatio Nelson. The schooner was built at Niagara-on-the-Lake in Upper Canada for merchant James Crooks and launched on May 1, 1811 as an unarmed merchant schooner to carry freight between Upper Canadian ports. Lord Nelson was illegally seized by the US Navy on June 9, 1812, almost two weeks before the War of 1812, on suspicion of smuggling. The schooner was on a voyage from Prescott, Upper Canada to Niagara, Upper Canada (then known as Newark) carrying freight and personal luggage when it was stopped and searched by Lt. Melancthon T. Woolsey in command of the American warship USS Oneida. Woolsey accused the Lord Nelson of smuggling American goods in violation of the Embargo Act of 1807, which forbid trading between the United States and British colonies. The schooner was taken to the US naval base at Sackets Harbor, New York. Although there was no proof of smuggling and the schooners owner James Crooks immediately went to Sackets Harbour to dispute the seizure, the onset of war prevented the return of his vessel.The schooner was commissioned into the US Navy at Sackets Harbor, where it was renamed USS Scourge. For naval service it was armed with four 6-pounder cannons, four 4-pounder cannons and fitted with bulwarks. The schooner was placed in Captain Isaac Chauncey's squadron and patrolled Lake Ontario during the War of 1812.

About 84 men perished when the Hamilton and Scourge sank during a sudden squall off-shore from Fourteen Mile Creek, east of present-day Hamilton, Ontario around 2:00 am on Sunday August 8, 1813. Scourge was under the command of Sailing Master Joseph Osgood. According to a Letter of August 1813 after both ships were lost, sixteen members of the crew survived. A survivor of the Scourge, Ned Myers, told his story to James Fenimore Cooper. According to Myers about eight men from the Scourge were saved, and about 42 were lost.

The site of the sunken ships was designated a National Historic Site of Canada in 1976. The Ontario Heritage Act was amended in 2005 to provide special protection to the shipwrecks of the Hamilton, the Scourge, and the SS Edmund Fitzgerald because of their historical and cultural significance and because they contain human remains.After the war, the schooner's original owner James Crooks, resumed his claim for the schooner. On July 11, 1817, the Court of Northern District of New York, determined that the vessel had been seized illegally. Despite the court's decision, compensation to the Crooks family was not paid because the funds had been embezzled by the clerk of the court. Crook's descendants, persisted and finally won compensation for the schooner 97-years-later in 1914, thanks to the determination of Henry James Bethune. The award was $5000, plus 93 years of interest. Total compensation came to $23,644.38, reduced to $15,546.63 after deduction of legal expenses, and was paid by the United States government to the 25 descendents of James Crooks.

USS Viper (1806)

USS Viper – commissioned as USS Ferret – was a brig serving the United States Navy during the early days of the republic. Viper was assigned to enforce the Embargo Act of 1807 along the U.S. East Coast. During the War of 1812, while cruising in the Caribbean, she was captured by the more heavily armed British warships. She then served the Royal Navy as HMS Mohawk until she was sold in 1814. While in British service she served in several actions that earned her crew the Naval General Service Medal,

War hawk

A war hawk, or simply hawk, is

a term used in politics for someone favoring war in a debate over whether to go to war, or whether to continue or escalate an existing war. War hawks are the opposite of doves. The terms are derived by analogy with the birds of the same name: hawks are predators that attack and eat other animals, whereas doves mostly eat seeds and fruit and are historically a symbol of peace.

Washington Doctrine of Unstable Alliances

The Washington Doctrine of Unstable Alliances, sometimes called the caution against entangling alliances, was an early realist United States foreign policy guiding its interaction with other nations. According to the policy, the United States should consider external alliances as temporary measures of convenience and freely abandon them when national interest dictates. It has been cited as a rare example of an explicit policy endorsement of what, in international relations, is known as renversement des alliances ('reversal of alliances'): a state abandoning an ally for an alliance with a recent enemy, sometimes against the former ally.

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