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Embargo act

jefferson ships war trade

Embargo act, in U.S. history, statute prohibiting trade with other nations, usually for diplomatic reasons. The term refers to seagoing trade and technically means a refusal to let ships leave or enter port. The most controversial embargo was passed in 1807 by President Thomas Jefferson to prevent the warring nations of France and Britain from interfering with U.S. ships in order to enforce their blockades of each other's ports. Not only did the act fail in this regard, it also caused great economic loss to U.S. merchants and shippers. The measure's enormous unpopularity led to its replacement by the weaker Nonintercourse Act of 1809, and the entire dispute finally led the United States into the War of 1812.

See also: Jefferson, Thomas; War of 1812.

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