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1808: Exploration and settlement; wars; government; civil rights; statistics.

The war between Great Britain and Napoleonic France in the early nineteenth century caused great damage to America's economy and led to government action to solve the problem. On Dec. 22, 1807, an Embargo Act became law. In effect the act banned all trade with foreign countries in an attempt to show England and France, who were trying to keep U.S. ships from reaching each other's ports, the importance of U.S. products and markets. Another Embargo Act was passed on Jan. 9, 1808, and still a third on Mar. 12. None of the acts had the desired effect. Trade to and from Canada was difficult to stop, and neither Britain nor France suffered. The chief result was damage to shipping and commercial interests of the North, especially New England.


In congressional elections the Republicans maintained their 28-6 Senate majority over the Federalists. In the House they lost 24 seats but kept a majority, 94-48.

Apr. 17

French seizure of American shipping was authorized by Napoleon. His Bayonne Decree ordered seizure of all U.S. vessels entering French and Italian ports and all ports of the Hanseatic League. The U.S. was helpless before this legalized piracy. The French took the position that all American shipping in those waters was really British and operating under false registration. In addition, the French contended that any actual U.S. shipping was prohibited by the U.S. Embargo Act and should be confiscated as a favor to the U.S. government. Through his Bayonne Decree, Napoleon increased his nation's wealth by some $10,000,000 worth of U.S. ships and cargo.

Dec. 7

James Madison was elected president of the United States. George Clinton, Republican of New York, was elected vice president. The electoral vote was Madison, Democratic-Republican of Virginia, 122; Charles Cotesworth Pinckney, Federalist of South Carolina, 47; George Clinton, 6. In the vice presidential race the electoral vote was Clinton, 113; Rufus King, Federalist of New York, 47.

Dec. 29

Andrew Johnson, 17th president of the United States, was born in Raleigh, N.C.

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Author:Carruth, Gorton
Publication:Encyclopedia of American Facts & Dates, 9th ed.
Article Type:Reference Source
Date:Jan 1, 1993
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