[Presidential] Jefferson, Thomas
Autograph Letter, signed
[Monticello], September 6, 1808. 2pp. in ink to one 4to sheet (9 3/4 x 7 1/2 inches; 24.5 x 19.0cm.); with light to moderate horizontal creases along original folds; contents and signature slightly browned but generally clear, signature not affected by creasing.'To the inhabitants of North Yarmouth in legal town-meeting assembled,' defending the Embargo Act of 1807.
Framed with Manuscript Petition of 'The inhabitants of...North Yarmouth [Massachusetts, now Maine]." August 22, 1808. 1p. Folio. With light to moderate creasing along old folds, and with a repaired vertical separation, negligible losses to a few words. Signed by five representatives of the town, requesting the president to consider an executive repeal of the Embargo as Yarmouth and other towns are 'dependent on commerce for the means of subsistence.'
Also framed with a facsimile of Jefferson's letter, allowing the verso of that letter to be displayed below the recto of the original letter, and a 19th-century steel engraved portrait of Jefferson.
Jefferson conceived the Embargo Act, signed into law in December 1807, as the only viable alternative to a war on the high seas with the European belligerents of the Napoleonic wars. These belligerents, Jefferson believed, could only be compelled to respect the neutrality of American trading vessels if American maritime trade with all and any of the belligerents was prohibited.
The impact of the Embargo proved severely damaging to American merchants, seamen, and all connected with maritime trade, leading to devastating effects on many other segments of the American economy. These effects were particularly severe in New England; from the inception of the Embargo Act, Jefferson was the recipient of petitions and remonstrances from New England citizens, civic groups, and municipalities.
Here responding to the petition of the residents of North Yarmouth [Massachusetts, now Maine], the President offers a detailed justification of his Embargo.
Provenance: The Forbes Collection Part III, 11/15/2005
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