Smuggling in the War of 1812

During the War of 1812, writes Harvey Strum, profit proved more persuasive than patriotism to many New Yorkers and Vermonters, who continued to supply the British forces in Canada.

In June of 1807 the British warship Leopard fired upon the American frigate Chesapeake when the American captain refused to permit the British to search his vessel for deserters. The British broadsides killed three and injured eighteen Americans. Retaliating for the attack and for British violations of American neutral rights. President Thomas Jefferson asked Congress for an embargo on trade.

An embargo would prevent the capture of American vessels, stop impressment and coerce the British into settling the outstanding problems in Anglo-American relations. While New Yorkers and their Vermont neighbours shared the public outrage at the attack upon the Chesapeake, they refused to respect the law. In spite of the embargo, New Yorkers and Vermonters traded with the Canadians.

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