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BERLIN AND MILAN DECREES.
The intelligence of this outrage was received with a burst of indignation throughout the country. Meetings of the citizens were very generally held, and, forgetting party distinctions, all united in resolutions to support the government in any measures of retaliation or redress which might be adopted. The president issued a proclamation, forbidding British ships of war thesports and harbours of the United States, and instructed the American ministers at the court of St. James to demand satisfaction for the insult. He also summoned the congress to meet, and take the subject into consideration.
The act of the naval officer was promptly disavowed by the British government, who also forbade the right of search, which they claimed, to be extended to ships of war; but as no adequate reparation was offered, this outrage remained unforgiven; and contributed to keep alive the hostile feeling already excited by the aggressions of the British on our com
By his Berlin decree of 1806, Napoleon had forbidden the introduction of any English goods to the continent of Europe, even in neutral vessels, and shut the harbours of France against any vessel that should touch at an English port. The English, in retaliation, first prohibited the trade of neutrals from port to port, belonging to their enemy; and afterwards declared the whole coast of Europe in a state of blockade, prohibiting neutrals altogether from trade with the continent.
Napoleon, on learning that this measure had been adopted, thundered forth his famous Milan decree, confiscating not only the vessels that should touch at a British port, but such as should submit to be searched by the English. This was carrying hostilities to an extreme on both sides. The great powers of the land and sea, unable to measure their strength, since each was predominant on its own element, came to vent their blows upon America.
It was in vain that the government of the United States expostulated with them. To England it denied having submitted to the decrees of the French ruler; to the latter it represented the indefeasible rights of neutrals. Join with me in bringing England to reason,' was the reply of Napoleon,
What was the effect of this outrage of the English retaliatory order in on the American people ?
council ? What was done by the president? Of the Milan decree of the emperor? By the British government ?
What did the government of the Uni. What was the effect of Napoleon's ted States represent to England ? Berlin decree?
To Napoleon ?
who was blind to all objects and reasons, but that of humbling his arch-enemy. America was, in consequence, left to choose which of the belligerents she would take for an enemy, since both at once might prove too powerful for her, and neutrality, persevered in, only exposed her vessels to capture without retaliation—10 the disadvantages, in fact, without the advantages of war.
The American ships being so much exposed to capture, congress, in December, 1807, decreed an embargo, or prohibition to American vessels to leave their ports ; a measure which operated far more to the disadvantage of England and of American merchants, than of France. Mr. Jefferson, in his correspondence, acknowledges this to have been a measure preparatory to war, allowing the merchants to recall home their ships and sailors, and the country to put itself in a posture of defence. The embargo caused much distress, and many murmurs, especially in the New England states; but the edict was rigidly enforced by the government.
During the year 1808, no progress was made towards an accommodation. To demands made by the United States of both the great European rivals, to recall their obnoxious decrees, France made no answer, whilst Mr. Canning returned one that was considered insulting. In the mean time, the distress in the United States, occasioned by the embargo, became so great as to occasion a considerable defection from the government party. In New England, particularly, the federalists acquired a decided majority, and Massachusetts boldly remonstrated against the edict, and recommended its repeal.
In the autumn of 1808, Mr. Jefferson having signified his intention of retiring from office at the expiration of his second term, James Madison was elected to succeed him, and George Clinton was re-elected to the office of vice-president. In March, 1809, he retired to his farm at Monticello, to pass the remainder of his life in literary leisure, and the society of a large circle of admiring friends, who were constantly repairing to his residence to interchange the offices of kindness and attention.
The following remarks on the character of Jefferson are
What alternative had the Americans ?
quence of the distress caused by
the embargo ?
CHARACTER OF JEFFERSON.
from a foreign writer, who appears to express himself with impartiality on American events and characters :
• However secondary the name and fame of Jefferson may seem to those classic ones of the revolution- Washington and Franklin-his influence is likely to be much more considerable and permanent than that of these memorable per
Their efforts, in conjunction with his, were directed to the great general task of freedom and independence; but, in addition to this, Jefferson has founded a school of political principle and party, which has swallowed up all others in the United States, and which is likely to be professed more or less by every free people. His principles are those, no doubt, of the French republicans ; but their short-lived and stormy reign never, allowed time for the development of a principle. They proclaimed them, but had not time to act upon them, before they were cut down. But Jefferson stood long enough, and wrote, and spoke, and overcame, so as to infuse his own spirit into the majority. He exists, indeed, in history, as a model of a republican statesman—bold and levelling in his principles, and shrinking from none of their consequences. From some of these, from both perhaps, the monarchist of Europe may shrink. But argument is i:ile on such a subject; the great phenomenon is there, and, though yet incomplete, the experiment is in progress. The political government that Jefferson conceived is realised in that of the United States; and should it prove a happy one, durable, prosperous, and great, (and there is every prospect of its continuing, as there is proof of its being so,) it will be vain to find fault with the principles which have given birth to such a state. Of Jefferson's private honesty there is irrefragable proof. The property of one who had been the greater part of his life either the minister or the sovereign of his country, was sold to pay his debts.'
COMMENCEMENT OF MADISON'S ADMINISTRATION.
THE public services of Mr. Madison had fully entitled him to the first office of the state. We have seen that he was 346
What character is ascribed to Jeffer- | What was the character of Mr. Ma son?
MISSIONS OF ERSKINE AND JACKSON.
one of the first authors of the federal constitution, and had been most active in recommending it to the adoption of his countrymen. His subsequent career had not been marked as that of a partisan. He was declared to want the strong antiBritish feeling of his predecessor, and it was now confidently hoped, that an accommodation between the United States and the leading maritime power of Europe might speedily take place.
In March, 1809, the embargo law was repealed, and an act passed prohibiting all intercourse between this country and both France and Great Britain. A provision was in. serted in this non-intercourse law, that if either of the belligerent nations should revoke her hostile edicts, the law should cease to be in force with respect to that nation.
The repeal of the embargo, and the substitution of a less obnoxious act, offered a fit and favourable pretext for renewing negotiations. Mr. Erskine was accordingly sent out by the British government to treat, and considering the suspension of the non-intercourse a fair equivalent for that of the orders in council, he stipulated that the orders should cease to be in force at a certain epoch. The president, accordingly, suspended the non-intercourse. But tidings no sooner reached England of the act of Mr. Erskine, than he was disavowed. The orders in council were suspended only so far as not to endanger those vessels which had sailed from America on the faith of Mr. Erskine's declaration. The president, in consequence, declared the non-intercourse act still in force, and the silent war of prohibitory edicts continued on its old footing.
Mr. Erskine was recalled, and Mr. Jackson sent in his place. The latter was ill chosen, since there was some cause which rendered him particularly obnoxious to the Americans. He was coldly received, and made to wait even for his recognition for some time. His endeavours to renew the negotiation were met by the remark of the inutility of such an attempt, and by an allusion to the duplicity of the British government in the affair of Erskine. Jackson retorted with warmth, and insinuated that the American government were,
When was the embargo law re- elude the performance of their enpealed ?
gagements made by Mr. Erskine ? What was substituted for it?
What was then done by the president? Who was sent out by the British Who was sent out by England in government to negotiate?
place of Mr. Erskine? What did he offer ?
How was he received ? What was done by the president? What passed between him and our How did the British government
RELATIONS WITH ENGLAND AND FRANCE,
at the time of his negotiation, aware that Erskine had exceeded his powers, and that his acts would not be sanctioned by his government. This charge being promptly denied and insultingly repeated, further communication with Jackson was declined, and his recall demanded of the minister in London.
France having been applied to by America at this time, the emperor replied, that his decrees were but retaliation; and that if England recalled her blockade and her orders in council, he would suffer his decrees to be considered null. Mr. Madison, availing himself of this fair offer of Napoleon, obtained from congress resolutions approving his high tone of policy towards England.
Preparations for war continued with activity; and the people already began to turn their attention and activity towards the domestic production of those manufactures which had been heretofore supplied by England ; and the English began to seek elsewhere those commodities which the United States had furnished. She sought them in Canada chiefly. The alienation and mutual injury thus worked by commercial prohibitions were, perhaps, greater than could have come of actual war.
The non-intercourse act expiring in 1810, the Americans again summoned the two powers to remove their restrictions. This was asked with the manifest purpose of declaring war if the restrictions were not removed. Napoleon replied by an amicable advance, intimating through his minister, that his decrees should be suspended. It was understood by him, of course, that America should no longer submit to the orders in council if unrepealed.
To the English ministry an appeal was now made to follow the example of France. Unfortunately for them, they hesitated, chicaned as to the supposed insincerity of the French declaration, or the informality of its announcement, and persisted in enforcing the orders in council. Mr. Pinck ney, the American envoy in London, disgusted at this shuf. Aling behaviour of the British government, demanded his audience of leave.
In this doubtful state of connection between America and England, another accidental collision took place between
Between our government and Na- | What was done in 1810 ? poleon ?
What was offered by Napoleon ? How did the Americans prepare for How did the English ministry bewar?
have ? The British