Jefferson and the Embargo

Jefferson and the Embargo

Jefferson and the Embargo

Jefferson and the Embargo

Excerpt

Some years ago, the author prepared for the Chicago Literary Club a study of Jefferson as a pacifist. In the course of his work, he became so interested in the philosophy of Jefferson that he set himself the larger task of indicating the practical working out of the pacific theories which Jefferson so inspiringly enunciated. This carried him through Jefferson's contribution to the foreign policy of Washington and the theories of international law which governed his own administration, to a review of the embargo as the practical culmination of Jeffersonian pacifism, and led him to certain conclusions, which, while not revolutionary in their character, seem to indicate a somewhat different Jefferson from the model so ably set by Henry Adams.

First, it would seem that in urging the embargo Jefferson was pursuing not a hasty opportunism, but rather the logic of his entire philosophy of life. Secondly, the exigencies of the situation revealed Jefferson as an administrator of a high order, a phase of Jefferson's ability which has been generally slighted, perhaps from an instinctive assumption that philosophers and practical men do not inhabit the same body.

A fresh examination of the Jefferson Papers, especially of the letters to Jefferson, reveals a more generous support for the embargo than it has been customary to represent, and shows, besides, in certain localities a remarkable prosperity, fostered by the opportunity of a closed market, and inviting the investment of capital formerly tied up in shipping. In its aggressive aspect, the embargo must be judged by its material and moral effect upon Great Britain and France. And the present study suggests with respect to Great Britain what the elaborate examination by Dr. Frank . . .

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