By Richard Buel
Read Online or Download America on the Brink: How the Political Struggle Over the War of 1812 Almost Destroyed the Young Republic PDF
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Additional resources for America on the Brink: How the Political Struggle Over the War of 1812 Almost Destroyed the Young Republic
The victory strengthened the Royal Navy’s hand in enforcing the new legal doctrine against American carriers, thus liquidating the last vestiges of the informal alliance that had existed between the United States and Britain since the Quasi-War against France in the late 1790s. 67 The seizures inspired a spate of protests, referred to at the time as memorials, against the new restrictions from the merchants of the nation’s principal ports— New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Boston—reinforced by those from secondary ports like Salem, New Haven, and Norfolk.
Britain’s attempt to expand its blockade of Napoleonic Europe stretched the Royal Navy’s manpower to the limit and made every additional hand valuable. 77 The British were prepared to be more generous about the re-export trade, but Jefferson did not bother sending the treaty to the Senate for ratification because these concessions were accompanied by an objectionable caveat that left Britain free to take them back if the United States failed to defend her neutral rights against the French. On November 21, 1806, France had responded to Britain’s May blockade of the European coast from the Seine to Ostend with the Berlin Decree.
America’s neutral commerce provided an inviting means. In early January 1807, shortly after signing the Monroe-Pinkney treaty, Britain had retaliated against the Berlin Decree with an order issued by the Privy Council that banned neutral shipping from the coastal trade of France and her allies. Napoleon responded in kind by excluding all British products as well as ships from entering the portions of the continent that he controlled. 79 While both powers were escalating their pressure on the commerce of neutrals, Britain precipitated a crisis with the United States by attacking an American frigate.