HIS271Y1 Lecture Notes - Lecture 6: Embargo Act Of 1807, Naval Ship, Hartford Convention

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18 Apr 2012

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Lecture 6: Wednesday October 19, 2011
The War of 1812 and the Awakening of American Nationalism
I. Origins of 1812
Origins date back to Jefferson and Napoleonic Wars
o British and French warning US not to aid the other
o US was neutral and felt they had freedom of the seas and to trade
with whomever they wanted
o Trade with England and France expanding into the West Indies
Merchant marine was becoming largest in Atlantic British watching this
As the war continues Britain has a beef with US about their high trade
Britain began to suspect that American ships were offering aid to British
Britain wasn’t happy in 1803 when US gave Napoleon $2,000
To weaken Napoleon, British set up blockade around Napoleonic Europe
o Under this policy, all vessels passing Britain had to have their cargos
inspected, pay a fee, and have the British give them the okay to
The US protests these violations of American rights but to no avail
Underlying Causes
o Harassment at Sea
US being harassed by British to the max
British Navy starts stopping American shipping in the middle
of the Atlantic in order to inspect their cargo so it wouldn’t
benefit France
o Impressment
Taking people off their ship and ‘impressing’ them into the
service of the British navy
Leads to the origins of passports able to present formal
American papers so the British won’t arrest them
o British ship fires on American naval ship in 1806 on the American
Jefferson responds by closing all American ports to British
Instructs Americans ambassador to Britain to seek reparations
for the ship that was fired upon to pay back for damages and
return the kidnapped people and demanded an apology
The British apologize, pay some money, but hold firm on their
stance that they are able to use force to return deserters
o Jefferson, at the urging of his then Secretary of State (James Madison)
suggests an Embargo of all British Trade
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o They pass the Embargo Act (1807) which puts trade embargos on all
European nations, not just the British
o Jefferson was thinking neither Britain nor France will survive the
embargo, especially since they were absorbing 45% of all British
export cargo
o Jefferson was comfortable with the Embargo Act because it was
similar to the Non-Consumption Acts of the Revolution
o Much had changed since the Revolution, the US had established one
of the world’s largest merchant marines
Brought unprecedented prosperity to the Atlantic Seaboard
and inland areas
o The Embargo kills the US economy
Trade plummets by 80% in the first year
Hard times befell farmers drop in price of wheat
o Jefferson clung to the hope that the British or the French would yield
and respect American neutrality
o Before he leaves office he works with Congress to repeal the Embargo
o Non-Intercourse Act (1808)
Opens trade to all European Nations except for Britain and
Expires in 1810
Madison repeals the Non-Intercourse Act and to restore
connections with Britain and France under the regulations
that if either one repealed the restrictions, the US could cut
off trade with either one
France invokes its measure with the US first so trade is cut off
with Britain
o Troubles with Native Americans
Under Jefferson then Madison, approximately 53 treaties of
land cessations were signed result was the US basically
received millions of land in return for annual payments and
promises not to intrude on native hunting grounds
These promises were obviously broken because the US
was undergoing a population surge
Indiana’s territory had 5800 people in 1810 it had 24,000 in
1820 it had 200,000
Jefferson had established government trading posts on a
number of native lands
Traded goods were offered in return for their land
Trade lands extended credit to native peoples in order to draw
them into debt which would result in their land being forfeited
basically souring their relationships
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o Around 1805 a Shawnee man Tenskwatawa “the Prophet” said he
received a vision calling on his people to reject the influences of white
Urges his followers to cease contacts with the white and only
use fire arms for self defense, but not for hunting or any
traditional purposes
o This gains real currency when his brother Tecumseh who is a chief
speaks of forming a confederation against various native peoples to
stop white civilizations (American) and to cease all treaties made with
the US and act as if they never happened
o This alarms the Us to the point the governor of Indiana territory calls
out the militia and then Tecumseh’s band is dispersed
o The American militia discovers British weapons in the possession of
the Shawnee 0 they assumed British Canadians were causing the
Shawnee to stir up trouble with the US
In so far as the British were supplying weapons but weren’t
whispering in peoples ears how to piss off the US
o Within Congress a group of people started to become increasingly
angered called War Hawks wanted to impose war against Britain
o The War Hawks are also fed up with Madison
o Madison asks the Congress for a declaration of war just as the British
repealed their laws that the Americans didn’t like
Unacknowledged Causes
o Political
Madison had not been the unanimous choice to run for the
party because many hated him due to the Embargo Act
1812 happened to be an election year and so Madison agrees
with the declaration for war because he believes it will unite
the party it does and he gets back in
o Economic
Explains why Canada is targeted as opposed to trying to fight
the British on the Atlantic War of 1812 fought over the Great
War Hawks believed the Natives were getting help from
British Canadians
US concerned that if the British are able to get resources from
colonies in Canada it will weaken their position
o June 1812
US declares War on Britain
II. Impact of War at Home
o Impact of Embargo Act by killing trade and grinding economy into a
halt gives US a depression
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