Historical Period: The Early Republic
Definition:general embargo enacted by the United States Congress against Great Britain and France during the Napoleonic Wars.
The embargo was imposed in response to violations of U.S. neutrality, in which American merchantmen and their cargo were seized as contraband of war by the European navies. The British Royal Navy, in particular, resorted to impressment, forcing thousands of American seamen into service on their warships. Great Britain and France, engaged in a struggle for control of Europe, rationalized the plunder of U.S. shipping as incidental to war and necessary for their survival
Significance: The Embargo Act was a great miscalculation on the part of Jefferson--France and GB were not as dependent upon American trade as was originally thought. Thus, New England's commercial economy was slammed.