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National DutiesCustom Houses and the Making of the American State$
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Gautham Rao

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780226367071

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226367101.001.0001

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Jefferson’s Embargo and the Era of Commercial Restrictions, 1807–1815

Jefferson’s Embargo and the Era of Commercial Restrictions, 1807–1815

(p.132) Chapter Five Jefferson’s Embargo and the Era of Commercial Restrictions, 1807–1815
National Duties

Gautham Rao

University of Chicago Press

The Napoleonic Wars confirmed what the Haitian Revolution had taught about the precarious dependence of customs officials’ authority on merchant capitalists. As Thomas Jefferson and James Madison repeatedly tried and failed to get customs officials to enforce commercial restrictions against French and British commerce, they launched a series of inquires about the legal and moral ramifications of the seemingly inextricable ties between merchants and customhouses. The dramatic failure of Jefferson’s Embargo and the rash of trading with the enemy during the War of 1812 taught the lesson that the United States had paid too high a price for customs revenue.

Keywords:   Thomas Jefferson, Albert Gallatin, embargo, smuggling, regulation, War of 1812

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