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peditious, or, what is still better, a more economical measure devised, than this of defeating the Yankees by proclamation-an expedient, likewise, so gentle and humane, there were ten chances to one in favor of its succeeding,
but then there was one chance to ten that it would not succeed,as the ill-natured fates would have it, that single chance carried the day.” Even the Virginia planters, groaning under the burden of supporting their slaves, whose products remained unsold on the plantation, protested. On February 28, 1809, the embargo was repealed, having brought about no amelioration of our international position.
WAR WITH ENGLAND
THE succession of Madison to the presidency on March 4, 1809, meant no change of ideas. In fact, it hardly involved a change of personnel; for Jefferson was still Non-interconsulted, and the new secretary of state, Robert Smith, was scarcely more than a figure-head, Madison himself often writing his dispatches. The embargo had failed, but a substitute had been provided. This took the form of a non-intercourse act, which opened up commerce to the rest of the world but prohibited it with France, England, and their colonies. To them America remained tight closed. The law set forth, however, that should England withdraw her orders, or France her decrees, the President could resume intercourse with the complaisant power.
In spite of the importance of the restrictions that remained, the merchant marine soon found unparalleled opportunities for employment. That of Massachusetts in- Prosperity of creased from 310,000 tons in 1807 to 352,000 tons in 1810. The British armies in Spain and Portugal needed provisions, and those countries were open to our trade. To the north, Russia was free to neutrals after December 31, 1810, and we were practically the only neutrals. This opportunity was not too far afield for our enterprize. By way of the Baltic and the port of Riga, and even by the Arctic port of Archangel, the route to which had the advantage of lying far from the haunts of the British navy, we sent to Russia, in 1810, $3,975,000 worth of goods, in 1811, $6,137,000 worth. To guard this new trade, we exchanged ministers with that country in 1809, sending thither John Quincy Adams, who had now affiliated with the dominant
party. Holland and Naples, moreover, and other stretches of European coast, though actually under Napoleonic control, were not legally French and did not fall within our prohibition. To them we could send such things as Napoleon wished and England did not object to. Fish and oil were permitted, but cotton England banned as tending to build up French manufactures. Nor did prohibition by law actually prevent American vessels from dropping into the harbors of France herself, when the way was open. In addition, our ships were licensed by the belligerents to carry on some of that exchange between them which was so beneficial that it defied the dictates of policy. Increasingly, however, this trade was given to their own vessels, and it never was so large as the unlicensed smuggling carried on by the boatmen of the Channel in the teeth of the authorities of both countries. If by this description the ocean may seem to have been a smooth road to the Americans, it must be borne in mind that there were always the perils of search and impressment, and the chances of sudden changes in regulations, involving delay, seizure, and confiscation. Worse still, the standard trade of bringing English manufactures into the United States, and of exporting tobacco and other goods to England and provisions to her colonies, was practically ended.1
It was under these circumstances that George Canning, now British minister of foreign affairs, resolved to take adErskine ar
vantage of the offer contained in the nonrangement
intercourse act in order to reopen the American market to British manufactures. This negotiation was to take place in America, and he instructed his minister at Washington to announce that the orders would be recalled on condition that we withdraw non-intercourse with Eng
1 For the study of the actual course of commerce during these years the Guide to the Material in London Archives for the History of the United States since 1983, by C. 0. Paullin and F. L. Paxson, is useful. It describes the papers to the period of the Civil War. The records of the Board of Trade are found to contain the most novel material.
land, that we forego trade with the French West Indies, and that we allow England to enforce our non-intercourse act with France. The British minister at this time was David Montague Erskine, a young Whig appointed by Fox in 1806, very friendly toward America and married to an American wife. With him an agreement was made which dealt with the Chesapeake affair and the recall of the orders, and looked to the formation of a general treaty of commerce between the United States and Great Britain, but which left out Canning's last two conditions. In accordance with this arrangement, Madison, on June 10, 1809, declared intercourse with Great Britain restored.
Canning at once rejected the agreement, recalled Erskine, and sent in his place Francis James Jackson, who was not expected to repeat Erskine's mistake of over
Canning disfriendliness to America, and who lived up to
avows Erskine his reputation. After five weeks' exchange of notes, which grew increasingly unpleasant, the American government refused to deal further with him. Canning, however, had promised him a year in America, and he was not recalled until the end of it. Until the autumn of 1810, therefore, the United States and Great Britain were provided with a burr under the saddle which the tact of Pinkney, our minister at London, could scarcely be expected to make comfortable.
Meanwhile Napoleon had not been unconscious of the United States, though he had not needed to give her much of his attention, since her policy conformed Napoleon and to his own, and he seemed to be reaping
the embargo the reward for the sale of Louisiana. As if in accordance with his desires --but in reality because of the southern objection to recognizing a republic founded on a slave insurrection,-intercourse had in 1806 been prohibited with his revolted colony of Hayti, in which he took a fleeting interest. The embargo again, though a measure based on Jefferson's philosophy, exactly fitted into Napoleon's continental system. Although he objected to it as regarded
France, he could not have devised a plan better suited to his purposes had he been dictator of America. “The Emperor applauds the embargo," said Turreau, French minister at Washington. On April 5, 1808, Napoleon issued from Bayonne a decree ordering the sequestration of all American vessels arriving in France, as presumably British property sailing under false papers, no American vessels being legally afloat.
The repeal of the embargo was therefore a rebuff, and its form, by grouping England and France together and differ
entiating between France and her dependent Napoleon and non-inter states, was still more so. Moreover, the pro
hibition of Haytian trade, which had never been effective, lapsed about the same time. Napoleon therefore ordered his minister to withdraw from Washington. On August 4, 1809, after Canning's disavowal of the Erskine agreement had assured a return to non-intercourse and a period of aggravation between England and the United States, while the battle of Wagram gave him command of Europe, he issued the decree of Vienna, ordering the seizure and confiscation of "every American ship which shall enter the ports of France, Spain, or Italy." This step he justified by the arguments that those entering French ports were violating the law of the United States, and that the other countries under French control should not be allowed to enjoy trade forbidden to France. The decree was kept secret, apparently in order to induce American vessels to enter. Thiers says: “To admit false neutrals in order to confiscate them afterwards, greatly pleased his astute mind, little scrupulous in the choice of means, especially in regard to shameless smugglers who violated at once the laws of their own country and those of the country that consented to admit them."1 Napoleon himself wrote to Danzig: "Let the American ships enter your ports! Seize them afterwards.
1 M. J. L. A. Thiers, Histoire du consulat et de l'empire (21 vols., Paris, etc., 1845–69), vol. xii.