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U.S. Neutrality At Any Cost

The United States is struggling to remain neutral in the war between the U.K. and France. France has declared that any British-derived cargo, even cargo on neutral transport, is subject to confiscation. The British are blockading French shipping off the coast of Virginia, and many sailors are deserting to sign up with the US Navy. British treatment of sailors has been abominable and one British deserter has been taunting the British on the streets of Norfolk. The commander of the British ship, HMS Leopold is looking for deserters so he presents a warrant to the commander of the USS Chesapeake for a search of his ship. The Chesapeake refuses to comply so the Leopold fires a broadside, killing 3 sailors and injuring many others. The Chesapeake responds with only one gun. She strikes her colors, and the British board her. One British subject and 3 Americans are pulled off and tried for desertion. The British deserter is hung from the yardarm. The rest are sentenced to lashes but the sentence is rescinded and they are impressed into service with the British Navy. (It's like being a prisoner, but a lot less fun.) The American public is outraged. President Jefferson orders all British ships out of American ports. The people call for war, but cooler heads prevail. The Congress imposes an embargo on all trade with Britain and France. Some say war with the UK is coming anyway. They are right. [1] [2] [3]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
The USA neutrality policy wasn't working because France was blocking all UK goods from entering European ports in order to hurt them economically. US Trade with the UK was thwarting France's plan, thus making the USA non-neutral, but if the USA complied with France's embargo, it would be abandoning neutrality as well. Neutrality in trade was a no-win situation. With shipping insurance going through the roof due to the war, prices were going to rise no matter what they did. The choices were to abandon trade neutrality or refuse to deal with anyone... thus the embargo was imposed. President Jefferson said that by cutting off trade with the UK and France, those countries would be punished and soon return to normal trade with America. It never happened because those other countries could do without American trade for a much longer time than America could do without them. American lifted the trade embargo two years later. [4]

The Slave Trade is Abolished

The British Parliament has finally abolished the slave trade throughout the British Empire with a vote of 100–36 in the House of Lords where it has stalled in previous years. The House of Commons is a slam dunk. William Wilberforce is the man behind the movement. When he entered politics, he was not a particularly religious man, but he became so over time. Over 26 years he has been fighting for the abolition of slavery. While he longed for the emancipation of all slaves, he knew that he could not get that through Parliament, so he has managed to abolish the trading of slaves within the Empire. This will be more proactive than one might think. The West African Squadron will be formed and aggressively blockade British slave ships, but two years later they will stop any slaver flying any flag. At this same time the United States has made the importation of slaves illegal. Slave trading itself will continue in the USA, but only with existing slaves. (The smuggling of slaves will continue.) Slavery will remain legal within the British Empire until 1833. Slavery in the USA will continue until 1863 when President Lincoln will issue his Emancipation Proclamation. [5] [6] [7]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
The United States waited because in the Constitution no federal law limiting slavery could be imposed until 1808. I think most Americans find this fact embarrassing. Certainly I do, but if slavery had been abolished immediately, Virginia would have collapsed economically. Thus Virginia wouldn't have voted for the Constitution. Then there was the 3/5ths rule of counting slaves in a congressional district. If slaves were counted one-for-one, there would be more congressional districts created in slave states but fewer eligible voters. Slaves couldn't vote. Slave owners could. Thus slave owners would have had too much power in the legislature. In other words, when I vote in a low-turn-out election, my voting power is increased, or if I live in a district with a lot of immigrants that can't vote, my voting power is increased. Thus, a pocket of eligible voters could create a "safe-district" where they always get what they want and everyone else doesn't because the others can't vote. [8]

In Other News

  • Vesta is a planet... for now. There is no such word as "asteroid" yet. By 1851, a large number of smaller objects called asteroids are discovered, so Vesta is renamed "4" or "4 Vesta" meaning the 4th asteroid discovered. [9] [10]
  • Gas-lighting comes to London streets. It is only a demonstration, but science is pushing back the darkness. [11] [12]
  • Robert E. Lee is born in Virginia. General Lee will command the Confederate Army during the American Civil War and his estate will become Arlington Cemetery. [13] [14]

This Year in Wikipedia

Year 1807, Wikipedia.

See Also


  1. Cray , Robert E., Jr. (Fall 2005). "Remembering the USS Chesapeake: The Politics of Maritime Death and Impressment". Journal of the Early Republic (University of Pennsylvania Press on behalf of the Society for Historians of the Early American Republic) 25 (3): 445-474. http://www.jstor.org/stable/30043338. Retrieved 14 June 2016. "Service against the Barbary pirates in the Mediterranean comprised of routine patrols before the government put the Chesapeake in ordinary in 1803. Jefferson's naval austerity measures left the ship so seriously neglected that it required a refitting at Hampton Roads, Virginia, when ordered to sea in January 1807.". 
  2. Chesapeake–Leopard Affair - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 14 June 2016. “The event raised tensions between the two countries and, while possibly not a direct cause, was one of the events leading up to the War of 1812. In fact, many Americans demanded war because of the attack, but President Jefferson turned to diplomacy and economic pressure in the form of the ill-fated Embargo Act of 1807.”
  3. Cray, Robert E. (Fall 2005). "Project MUSE - Remembering the USS Chesapeake : The Politics of Maritime Death and Impressment". Journal of the Early Republic 25 (3): 445-474. http://muse.jhu.edu/article/188432. Retrieved 14 June 2016. "The bombardment of the USS Chesapeake by the HMS Leopard on June 22, 1807, outraged citizens of the young republic. Not only had three sailors been killed and eighteen more wounded, but the British had forcibly removed four other men that they claimed belonged to them. Angry Americans condemned the incident, demanded satisfaction, and prepared for war. Although the crisis abated, diplomatic negotiations failed to resolve the issue until late 1811, and the surviving sailors were not returned until the start of the War of 1812.". 
  4. Alex Shrugged notes: Just to give you an idea of how poorly British sailors were treated, it was common for sailors to commit infractions sufficient to have themselves imprisoned and deported to Australia because prisoners headed to Australia got better treatment than the sailors transporting them. American sailors also had it rough, but it was relatively better.
  5. Metaxas, Eric. Amazing Grace: William Wilberforce and the Heroic Campaign to End Slavery. HarperOne. ISBN 9780061173004. “The slave's humanity had been established; now it must be honored. The immediate and main challenge in 1807 would be enforcing abolition, and at the moment things looked promising. The Americans had just abolished their slave trade that same year (although, of course, it would still be more than half a century before Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation), and Denmark had done so in 1803. Because of the ongoing war, Holland, France, and Spain were not engaged in the trade either. Portugal stood alone in conducting a large-scale trade.” 
  6. Emancipation Proclamation - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 14 June 2016. “The Emancipation Proclamation was a presidential proclamation and executive order issued by President Abraham Lincoln on January 1, 1863. In a single stroke, it changed the federal legal status of more than 3 million enslaved people in the designated areas of the South from 'slave' to 'free'. It had the practical effect that as soon as a slave escaped the control of the Confederate government, by running away or through advances of federal troops, the slave became legally free. Eventually it reached and liberated all of the designated slaves.”
  7. West Africa Squadron - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 14 June 2016. “The Royal Navy established the West Africa Squadron (or Preventative Squadron) at substantial expense in 1808 after Parliament passed the Slave Trade Act of 1807. The squadron's task was to suppress the Atlantic slave trade by patrolling the coast of West Africa.”
  8. Three-Fifths Compromise - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 14 June 2016. “The Convention had unanimously accepted the principle that representation in the House of Representatives would be in proportion to the relative state populations. However, since slaves could not vote, white leaders in slave states would thus have the benefit of increased representation in the House and the Electoral College.”
  9. 4 Vesta - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 14 June 2016. “After the discovery of Vesta, no further objects were discovered for 38 years, and the Solar System was thought to have eleven planets.[46] However, in 1845, new asteroids started being discovered at a rapid pace, and by 1851 there were fifteen, each with its own symbol, in addition to the eight major planets (Neptune had been discovered in 1846). It soon became clear that it would be impractical to continue inventing new planetary symbols indefinitely, and some of the existing ones proved difficult to draw quickly. That year, the problem was addressed by Benjamin Apthorp Gould, who suggested numbering asteroids in their order of discovery, and placing this number in a disk (circle) as the generic symbol of an asteroid. Thus, the fourth asteroid, Vesta, acquired the generic symbol ④. This was soon coupled with the name into an official number–name designation, ④ Vesta, as the number of minor planets increased. By 1858, the circle had been simplified to parentheses, (4) Vesta, which were easier to typeset. Other punctuation, such as 4) Vesta and 4, Vesta, was also used, but had more or less completely died out by 1949.[47] Today, either Vesta, or, more commonly, 4 Vesta, is used.”
  10. Heinrich Wilhelm Matthias Olbers - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 3 April 2016. “Five years later, on March 29, 1807, he discovered the asteroid Vesta, which he allowed Carl Friedrich Gauss to name. As the word 'asteroid' was not yet coined, the literature of the time referred to these minor planets as planets in their own right. He proposed that the asteroid belt, where these objects lay, was the remnants of a planet that had been destroyed. The current view of most scientists is that tidal effects from the planet Jupiter disrupted the planet-formation process in the asteroid belt.”
  11. Grun, Bernard. The Timetables of History: A Horizontal Linkage of People and Events. Simon and Schuster, 378-379. 
  12. Gas lighting - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 14 June 2016. “The first public street lighting with gas was demonstrated in Pall Mall, London, on January 28, 1807, by Frederick Albert Winsor.”
  13. Robert E. Lee - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 14 June 2016. “Robert Edward Lee (January 19, 1807 – October 12, 1870) was an American general known for commanding the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia in the American Civil War from 1862 until his surrender in 1865.”
  14. Arlington National Cemetery - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 14 June 2016. “The cemetery was established during the Civil War on the grounds of Arlington House, which had been the estate of the family of Confederate general Robert E. Lee's wife Mary Anna (Custis) Lee (a great-granddaughter of Martha Washington).”

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