Thomas Jefferson: Adventures in Embargoes

For being an agrarian philosopher that hated cities and manufacturing, Jefferson had a curious obsession with embargoes.

Understanding that the United States could not stand up to fight another war against Europe, he felt that commerce was the best way to punish European aggression. This is a curious choice since the US was not quite the economic powerhouse it is today. Until around the turn of the 20th century, Argentina was a trading partner with Europe on roughly equal footing with the United States.

The policies led to huge economic hardships for the average citizen, especially in the Northeast. It's hard to believe that if a few things had gone a little differently, the civil war may well have been started by the North for economic reasons instead of by the South for the slavery issue.

It's harder still to believe that after trading embargoes were proven ineffective time and again, future administrations continued to try and use them as a policy tool. Even in the 5 mile an hour era of the early 1800's, the powers of the day could substitute American goods for Canadian, imagine how easily it is now in the age of high speed Internet and global shipping networks.

No comments:

Post a Comment