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Enemy Trade with a License

Enemy Trade with a License

Patrick Callaway

Prior to the declaration of war by the United States against Great Britain in June 1812, the administrations of Thomas Jefferson and James Madison attempted to use economic coercion to influence British policies towards the United States.  These policies failed as a result of poor planning, a lack of governmental infrastructure to enforce the law, and popular dissent. The primary victim of American trade policies in the pre-war years was the United States. A logical consequence of the gathering war clouds in the spring of 1812 would be more government restrictions on American trade. A temporary embargo was passed and legislation was created to curtail trade with Great Britain. The wartime trade restriction policies, however, had two important gaps. The primary markets for exported agricultural goods were Spain, Portugal, and the British army operating in Iberia.  This trade was not outlawed.  In addition, it was legal to trade under British license to neutral ports until the fall of 1813. These two omissions from the law destroyed whatever impact that American trade restrictions would have on Great Britain. [ ]Read More.


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