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The Napoleonic Wars continued the Wars of the French Revolution. Great Britain and France fought for European supremacy and treated weaker powers heavy-handedly. The United States attempted to remain neutral during the Napoleonic period, but eventually became embroiled in the European conflicts, leading to the War of 1812 against Great Britain.
====Madison Aligns with France====
Jefferson’s successor, President James Madison, confronted a dilemma—to continue with the ineffective Non-Intercourse Act was effectively to submit to British terms of trade since the British navy controlled the Atlantic. Madison was assisted by the passage in 1810 of Nathaniel Macon’s Bill No. 2, which offered Britain and France the option of ceasing their seizure of U.S. merchant ships in return for U.S. participation in their trade bloc. Napoleon was the first to offer concessions, which Madison publicly accepted at face value despite his private skepticism. In doing so, Madison pushed the United States closer to war with Britain.
During this period, Madison also had to address a problem created by Secretary of State, Robert Smith, who had personally stated to the British minister his pro-British sympathies. When Madison confronted Smith and offered him a graceful departure as U.S. Minister to Russia, Smith appeared to accept his offer, and then leaked cabinet papers as part of a smear campaign against President Madison. U.S. diplomat Joel Barlow published a reply and swung public opinion against Smith, who resigned on April 1, 1811.
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