Why did the United States place an embargo on France and Great Britain?Why did the United States place an embargo on France and Great Britain?

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askteacherz eNotes educator| Certified Educator
Another arena that needs some attention on this topic is the political party implications that the Embargo contained. This is during an era in US History in which the Federalist and Republicans had been battling for government dominance. The Jeffersonians had just come off a sweeping political party victory in 1800 (nicknamed the Revolution of 1800 because they managed to acquire the presidency and a simple majority in both the House and Senate in one election. The Embargo would solidify the Republican ideology (or essentially act as the nail in the coffin of the Federalist Party). The Republicans, since their formation as a distinct party, advocated that the nation become a self-sufficient nation of farmers; militia orientated and trading only amongst ourselves. While on the opposite side of the spectrum the Hamiltonian Federalists had advocated for a nation of manufacturers that would trade with the world; create big business and incur national debt to inspire world trade; especially trade with England since they were envisioned to be our prominent trading partner. Therefore, while the Embargo acted as, perhaps in Jefferson's mind, the best way to avoid all out war with a powerful nation (mostly England), it also fit very well in pushing a party platform. When it is all said and done the Embargo did successfully create a one party system dominated by the Jeffersonian Republicans which gave rise to our second war for independence and it's subsequent Era of Good Feelings all at the demise or cost of what was at one time a very successful and profitable national trade system.
larrygates eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I assume you mean the period just before the War of 1812. Great Britain and France were at war with each other, and although the United States was nominally neutral, American merchants frequently traded with both sides. Each side attempted to prevent this from happening. Britain issued Orders in Council which prohibited trade with continental Europe, and declared that all ships must be licensed if bound for the continent, and must call at a British port. The French under Napoleon proclaimed his continental system which was a blockade of French ports, and declared that any ship which complied with the British Orders in Council was subject to seizure. The British practice of impressment--seizing sailors from American ships who presumably were deserters--aggravated the situation even further. Britain appeared to be the chief offender; but France caused equally hard feelings. In an attempt to prevent American involvement in a totally European war Congress at the behest of President Thomas Jefferson passed the Embargo Act of 1807 which stopped the export of American goods and prohibited American ships from leaving for foreign ports. It proved to be a disastrous plan.

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I assume that you are talking about the embargo imposed by Pres. Thomas Jefferson in 1807.  If so, the US placed the embargo in order to force Britain and France to remove the restrictions that they rance and Britain had put on trade between the other country and neutral countries.

During this time, France and Britain were at war.  Each side wanted to stop the other from being able to trade with neutral countries like the US.  They wanted to do this to hurt the other country.  But this was really hard on the US.  Their ships, bound for France or Britain, were being stopped and that really hurt trade.  This had a major negative impact on the US economy.

In order to stop this from happening, the US imposed this embargo.  They hoped to put pressure on the British and the French by depriving them of US goods.

As the link below says,

The Embargo Act was intended to use economic pressure to compel England and France to remove restrictions on commercial trading with neutral nations that they imposed in their warfare with each other.

litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator
European countries were not eager to give the fledgling upstart United States any kind of respect. The US had to earn it by proving that they were indeed powerful and tough. It was through this tough early action that the US was able to build itself up to a position of dominance.