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Her agent wrote a correspondent in Boston that, when the
bill failed in the Senate, he had had no doubt of her being allowed
to proceed, "but the Secretary and Mr. Madison have made a sort of
embargo, or directed the stoppage of vessels."[174] He added that
another brig was lying in the river ready loaded, but held by the same
order. Morris's indorsement on the ship's papers shows the
barefacedness of the transaction. "Whereas the within-mentioned ship
'Monsoon' is laden with flour, and _must_ pass within the control of
the enemy's squadron now within, and blockading Chesapeake Bay, if she
be allowed to proceed on her intended voyage, and as the enemy might
derive from her such intelligence and succor as would be serviceable
to themselves and injurious to the United States, I forbid her
proceeding while the enemy shall be so disposed as to prevent a
reasonable possibility of her getting to sea without falling into
their possession."[175] At this writing the British had left the
Potomac itself, and the most of them were above. A week later, at
Charleston, a ship called the "Caroline" was visited by a United
States naval officer, and found with a license from Cockburn to carry
a cargo, free from molestation by British cruisers.[176] "With flour
at Lisbon $13 per barrel, _no sale_, and at Halifax $20, _in demand_,"
queries a Baltimore paper of the day, "where would all the vessels
that would in a few days have been off from Alexandria have gone, if
the 'Monsoon' had not been stopped? They would have been _captured_
and sent to Halifax."[177]

Morris's action was in accordance with the Secretary's order, and went
no further than to stop a voyage which, in view of the existing
proclaimed blockade, and of the great British force at hand, bore
collusion on its face. The President's request for legislation, which
Congress had denied, went much further. It was a recurrence, and the
last, to the policy of commercial retaliation, fostered by himself and
Jefferson in preference to armed resistance. By such measures in peace,
and as far as commercial prosperity was concerned, they had opened the
nation's veins without vindicating its self-respect. The military value
of food supplies to the enemy in Canada and on the coast, however,
could not be contested; and during the recess of Congress it received
emphasis by a Canadian embargo upon the export of grain. Hence, at the
next session the President's recommendation of July was given
attention, and there was passed almost immediately--December 17,
1813,--a sweeping embargo law, applicable not only to external commerce
but to coasters. As this ended the long series of commercial
restrictions, so was it also of limited duration as compared with them,
being withdrawn the following April.

By the Act of December 17, as interpreted by the Treasury, foreign
merchant vessels might depart with cargoes already laden, except
provisions and military stores, which must be relanded; but nothing
could be shipped that was not already on board when the Act was
received. Coasters, even for accustomed voyages, could obtain
clearances only by permission from the President; and the rules for
such permission, given through the collectors, were extremely
stringent. In no case were the vessels permitted to leave interior
waters, proceeding from one sound or bay to another, and be "at sea"
for even a short distance; nor were they to be permitted to carry any
provisions, or supplies useful to an enemy, if there was the slightest
chance of their falling into his power. It would appear that the
orders of July 29 had been allowed to lapse after the great body of
the British left the Chesapeake; for Morris, still in the Potomac,
acknowledging the receipt of this Act on December 20, writes: "There
are several vessels below us in the river with flour. I have issued
orders to the gunboats to detain them, and as soon as the wind will
permit, shall proceed with this ship, to give all possible effect to
the Act." Six days afterwards, having gone down as he intended, he
found the British anchored off the mouth of the stream, at a point
where the bay is little more than five miles wide. "Two American brigs
passed down before us, and I have every reason to believe threw
themselves into the enemy's hands last Wednesday."[178]

On September 6 the principal part of the British fleet quitted
Chesapeake Bay for the season; leaving behind a ship of the line with
some smaller vessels, to enforce the blockade. Viewed as a military
campaign, to sustain the character as well as the interests of the
country, its operations cannot be regarded as successful. With
overwhelming numbers, and signally favored by the quiet inland waters
with extensive ramifications which characterized the scene of war, the
results, though on a more extensive scale, differed nothing in kind
from the harassment inflicted all along the coast from Maine to
Georgia, by the squadrons cruising outside. Ample demonstration was
indeed afforded, there as elsewhere, of the steady, remorseless,
far-reaching effect of a predominant sea power; and is confirmed
explicitly by an incidental remark of the Russian minister at
Washington writing to Warren, April 4, 1813, concerning an armistice,
in connection with the abortive Russian proffer of mediation.[179]
Even at this early period, "It would be almost impossible to establish
an armistice, without raising the blockade, since the latter does them
more harm than all the hostilities."[180] But in direct military
execution the expedition had undoubtedly fallen far short of its
opportunity, afforded by the wretchedly unprepared state of the region
against which it had been sent. Whether the fault lay with the
commander-in-chief, or with the Admiralty for insufficient means given
him, is needless here to inquire. The squadron remaining through the
winter perpetuated the isolation of Norfolk from the upper bay, and
barred the "Constellation" and "Adams" from the sea. Ammunition and
stores had to be brought by slow and unwieldly transportation from the
Potomac across country, and it was not till January 18, 1814, that the
"Adams" got away. Two attempts of the "Constellation" a month later
were frustrated.

The principal two British divisions, the action of which has so far
been considered, the one blockading the Chesapeake, the other watching
Decatur's squadron in New London, marked the extremities of what may
be considered the central section of the enemy's coastwise operations
upon the Atlantic. Although the commercial shipping of the United
States belonged largely to New England, much the greater part of the
exports came from the district thus closed to the world; and within it
also, after the sailing of the "President" and "Congress" from Boston,
and the capture of the "Chesapeake", lay in 1813 all the bigger
vessels of the navy, save the "Constitution".

In the conditions presented to the enemy, the sections of the
coast-line south of Virginia, and north of Cape Cod, differed in some
important respects from the central division, and from each other.
There was in them no extensive estuary wide open to the sea,
resembling Chesapeake and Delaware bays, and Long Island Sound,
accessible to vessels of all sizes; features which naturally
determined upon these points the chief effort of a maritime enemy,
enabling him readily to paralyze the whole system of intercourse
depending upon them, domestic as well as foreign. The southern waters
abounded indeed in internal coastwise communications; not consecutive
throughout, but continuous for long reaches along the shores of North
and South Carolina and Georgia. These, however, were narrow, and not
easily approached. Behind the sea islands, which inclose this
navigation, small craft can make their voyages sheltered from the
perils of the sea, and protected in great measure from attack other
than by boats or very light cruisers; to which, moreover, some local
knowledge was necessary, for crossing the bars, or threading the
channels connecting sound with sound. Into these inside basins empty
numerous navigable rivers, which promoted intercourse, and also
furnished lines of retreat from danger coming from the sea. Coupled
with these conditions was the fact that the United States had in these
quarters no naval establishment, and no naval vessels of force.
Defence was intrusted wholly to gunboats, with three or four armed
schooners of somewhat larger tonnage. American offensive operation,
confined here as elsewhere to commerce destroying, depended entirely
on privateers. Into these ports, where there were no public facilities
for repair, not even a national sloop of war entered until 1814 was
well advanced.

Prior to the war, one third of the domestic export of the United
States had issued from this southern section; and in the harassed year
1813 this ratio increased. The aggregate for the whole country was
reduced by one half from that of 1811, and amounted to little more
than one fourth of the prosperous times preceding Jefferson's embargo
of 1808, with its vexatious progeny of restrictive measures; but the
proportion of the South increased. The same was observable in the
Middle states, containing the great centres of New York, Philadelphia,
and Baltimore. There a ratio to the total, of a little under fifty per
cent, rose to something above that figure. The relative diminution,
corresponding to the increases just noted, fell upon New England, and
is interesting because of what it indicates. Before the war the export
of domestic produce from the eastern ports was twenty per cent of the
national total; in 1813 it fell to ten per cent. When the domestic
export is taken in conjunction with the re-exportation of foreign
products, the loss of New England is still more striking. From
twenty-five per cent of the whole national export, domestic and
foreign, she now fell to ten per cent of the diminished total. When it
is remembered that throughout 1813 the Eastern ports alone were open
to neutral ships, no commercial blockade of them having yet been
instituted, these results are the more noticeable.

The general explanation is that the industries of the United States at
that time divided into two principal classes,--agricultural and
maritime; the former of which supplied the material for commerce,
while the latter furnished transportation for whatever surplus of
production remained for export.



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