For years, PIRATES from the BARBARY COAST
states of NORTH AFRICA---
MOROCCO, ALGERIA, TUNISIA, and TRIPOLI---
had harassed American ships in the
MEDITERRANEAN SEA. They often demanded
payment from the ships in return for protection.
In 1801, when THOMAS JEFFERSON refused to
pay the pirates, the ruler of TRIPOLI declared war
against the UNITED STATES.
The war ended in 1805 when the ruler of TRIPOLI
agreed to end demands for protection payments.
During JEFFERSON’S presidency, BRITAIN and
FRANCE continually fought against each other. As
GEORGE WASHINGTON had done, JEFFERSON
sought to keep the UNITED STATES neutral.
Despite U.S. neutrality, FRENCH and BRITISH
warships seized many Americans vessels. The
BRITISH also continued their practice of
kidnapping American sailors and forcing them to
serve on British ships.
In 1807, a British ship fired on the American
warship CHESAPEAKE, killing several crew
members and badly damaged the vessel.
Americans were outraged and demanded war
with GREAT BRITAIN.
In response to growing tensions with
BRITAIN, JEFFERSON imposed a trade embargo on
both BRITAIN and FRANCE. He hoped that this
would hurt their war efforts and stop them from
raiding American ships.
The EMBARGO ACT OF 1807 prohibited all
American ships from leaving the United States for
foreign ports. The act badly damaged U.S. trade
and hurt Jefferson’s popularity.
In 1808, just after JEFFERSON left
office, Congress repealed the EMBARGO ACT and
replaced it with the Non-Intercourse Act. This act
allowed Americans to trade with any nation
except FRANCE AND GREAT BRITAIN.