ruin the American economy. 50 Particularly upset were the people of New England, and many feared that the result would be mob activity. A writer in the Boston Gazette wrote that "the spirit of our citizens is rising and may burst into a flame. Everything should therefore be done to calm them till the Legislature has had time to mature its plans of redress. . . . The spirit of New England is slow in rising; but when once inflamed by oppression, it will never be repressed by anything short of complete justice."51 The Republican press tried to support the measure, but most newspapers eventually came to believe that the Embargo Act was a mistake. As one of his last actions as president, Jefferson signed the repeal of the Embargo Act. Following this action, the Federal Republican commented that, "after depriving government of its means of support for sixteen months, and preventing the people of the United States from pursuing a lawful and profitable commerce, and reducing the whole country to a state of wretchedness and poverty, our infatuated rulers . . . have been forced to acknowledge their fatal error, and so to retrace their steps."52
Jefferson fled Washington in March 1809, glad to be away from the headaches of government. He spent the rest of his life in retirement at his plantations at Monticello and Poplar Grove in western Virginia. Although he continued to believe in the importance of a free press for the proper functioning of a democracy, he never believed that American newspapers fulfilled this monumental task. Following his return to his home state, he continued to keep up with current political issues, but he did not do so by reading many newspapers. In 1812, he told John Adams, "I have given up newspapers in exchange for Tacitus and Thucydides, for Newton and Euclid, and I find myself much the happier."53 Four years later, he expressed to James Monroe his current opinion of American newspapers: "I rarely think them worth reading, and almost never worth notice." 54 For Jefferson, the press no longer mattered very much. For the rest of the country, however, that was not true. The return of war in the years following Jefferson's presidency found the newspapers in the familiar role of primary source of information concerning the military conflict.