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Collection Reference Number GLC00115.01
From Archive Folder Documents Relating to 1808 
Title Thomas Jefferson's defense of the Embargo Act of 1807
Date October 1808
Author Jefferson, Thomas (1743-1826)  
Document Type Government document
Content Description Sent to Elijah Brown, Jr. Esq. Circular sent in response to criticisms of the Embargo Act of 1807 by people in the town of Stockbridge, Massachusetts. Explains and defends the Embargo Act as a recourse for securing the United States' rights to freely navigate the ocean. Argues it is "the only honorable expedient for avoiding war." Jefferson received the petition from Brown on 13 October 1808. GLC00016 is a similar printed letter from another town in Massachusetts (now Maine), though it is the result of a different printing.
Subjects War of 1812  President  Embargo  Law  Congress  Government and Civics  Global History and Civics  Maritime  Commerce  Merchants and Trade  Finance  Economics  
People Jefferson, Thomas (1743-1826)  Brown, Elijah (1771-1841)  
Place written Washington, D.C.
Theme Government & Politics; Merchants & Commerce; Naval & Maritime; War of 1812; The Presidency
Sub-collection The Gilder Lehrman Collection, 1493-1859
Additional Information Jefferson believed that Americans would cooperate with the embargo out of patriotism. Instead, smuggling flourished, particularly through Canada. To enforce the embargo, Jefferson took steps that infringed on his most cherished principles: individual liberties and opposition to a strong military. He had to mobilize the army and navy to enforce the blockade, and in April 1808, he declared the Lake Champlain region of New York, along the Canadian border, in a state of insurrection. Early in 1809, three days before Jefferson left office, Congress repealed the embargo. In effect for 15 months, it had exacted no political concessions from either France or Britain. It had produced economic hardship, evasion of the law, and political dissension at home.
Copyright The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History
Module Settlement, Commerce, Revolution and Reform: 1493-1859
Related documents Thomas Jefferson's defense of the Embargo Act of 1807  
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