By 1807, the British had become increasingly bold and attacked the American military ship, the USS Chesapeake, just of the coast of Virginia. The British ship was allegedly looking for British deserters, but this was part of Britain's effort to harass American shipping. Britain had already banned the United States from trading with France and its colonies.
The HMS Leopard fired on the Chesapeake and killed
3 American sailors. Additionally, the British board the ship and seized four American sailors. This attack differed from previous engagements because the Chesapeake was not a merchant ship, but a ship the United States Navy. This incident ratcheted up the potential for conflict between the United States and Britain.
==What was the goal of the Embargo Act of 1807?==
Instead of escalating the conflict with the Crown, Jefferson sought to end any tensions by ending all trade with all foreign nations. This Embargo closed US ports to foreign ships and even ended overland trade with Canada. Congress supported this move and hoped it would prevent America from being dragged into an out of control European conflict.
While Jefferson may have hoped to ease tensions, American traders quickly began flouting the Act. Initially, the Embargo was respected by American business, but over time the cost of the act escalated. This encouraged American smugglers to began moving the goods through Canada. The Embargo Act became increasingly unpopular and Jefferson's efforts to enforce the act against Americans became increasingly severe. Jefferson's act essentially interfered with one of the original rationales for the American Revolution: the support of free trade. Instead of working with Americans who defied the act, Jefferson accused them of
being disloyal and focused on enforcement. Jefferson was utterly incapable of rethinking the Act that quickly became a flashpoint in American politics. Americans were angry with Jefferson, but he refused to listen.