Suppression of American Trade in the Early 1800â€™s
With the war between France and England resuming in 1803, the U.S. took over the prosperous task of carrying goods such as sugar and coffee from the Caribbean colonies to Europe. By doing this the U.S. provided Napoleon with the goods he needed as well causing the price of sugar and coffee from the British colonies to go down. Britain blamed their economic problems on the Americansâ€™ prosperity. The result was a suppression of American trade.
In the eyes of the British, America was guilty of reexport trade which was, as stated by the British Rule of 1756, â€œany trade closed in peacetime could not be reopened during war.â€ (pg 221, The Enduring Vision) In order to get by this law American ships would carry goods back to American ports, send them through customs, and then carry it to other countries as American goods. This was allowed until 1805 when the British courts declared this illegal. In 1806, the British established the first of a set of trade regulations known as the Orders in Council. This established a blockade of French controlled ports, to which Napoleon countered with his Continental System which seized ships obeying British regulations. This caused all kinds of problems for U.S. vessels due to the fact that if they complied with British regulations the French would seize their ships, but if they sided with the French they became a target for the British.
The fact of British ships seizing American vessels was much more humiliating than French seizures. The French navy had been weakened considerably at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. Most of the French seizures were a result of Napoleon luring American ships into European ports. The British however swarmed the American coastline stopping virtually every ship for inspection. The British also added impressments to their list of things to do to American vessels. Due to adverse cond