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Maine's Embargo Forts

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The Embargo acts, passed in 1806-1808 during the Jefferson administration, were originally designed to punish Great Britain for violating American neutrality on the high seas during the Napoleonic wars. Increasingly, however, the acts were enforced against Americans seeking to defy the embargo and trade with England. Since Maine was heavily committed to trading with Great Britain — and with its colonies immediately to the north of Maine — the War Department ordered several forts built along the District’s coast, ostensibly to protect American citizens from British reprisal or war, but in fact, to enforce the embargoes. The forts brought sharply divided feelings in Maine. Joshua Smith is assistant professor of history at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy and a specialist in maritime history, naval history, New England history, and Canadian-American relations. He received his M.S. in maritime history and underwater archaeology from East Carolina University, an A.S. from Maine Maritime Academy, an M.A. from the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, in his PhD from the University of Maine. He published Borderland Smuggling: Illicit Trade and the Formation of the U.S.-Canadian Border, 1783-1820 in 2005, and has published several articles in maritime and naval history and a two-volume edited series of documents in American Maritime History.