United States Non-Intercourse Act - March 1, 1809

 

In the last days of President Thomas Jefferson's presidency, the United States Congress replaced the Embargo Act of 1807 with the almost unenforceable Non-Intercourse Act of March 1809. This Act lifted all embargoes on American shipping except for those bound for British or French ports. The intent was to damage the economies of the United Kingdom and France. Like its predecessor, the Embargo Act, it was mostly ineffective, and contributed to the coming of the War of 1812. In addition, it seriously damaged the economy of the United States due to a lack of markets for its goods.

 

Non-Intercourse Act - March 1, 1809

An ACT to interdict the commercial intercourse between the United States and Great Britain and France, and their dependencies; and for other purposes.

Be it enacted . . ., That from and after the passing of this act, the entrance of the harbors and waters of the United States and of the territories thereof, be, and the same is hereby interdicted to all public ships and vessels belonging to Great Britain or France, excepting vessels only which may be forced in by distress, or which are charged with despatches or business from the government to which they belong, and also packets having no cargo nor merchandise on board And if any public ship or vessel as aforesaid, not being included in the exception above mentioned, shall enter any harbor or waters within the jurisdiction of the United States. or of the territories thereof, it shall be lawful for the President of the United States, or such other person as he shall have empowered for that purpose, to employ such part of the land and naval forces, or of the militia of the United States, or the territories thereof, as he shall deem necessary, to compel such ship or vessel to depart.

SEC. 2. And be it further enacted, That it shall not be lawful for any citizen or citizens of the United States or the territories thereof, nor for any person or persons residing or being in the same, to have any intercourse with, or to afford any aid or supplies to any public ship or vessel as aforesaid, which shall, contrary to the provisions of this act, have entered any harbor or waters within the jurisdiction of the United States or the territories thereof; and if any person shall, contrary to the provisions of this act, have any intercourse with such ship or vessel, or shall afford any aid to such ship or vessel, either in repairing the said vessel or in furnishing her, her officers and crew with supplies of any kind or in any manner whatever, or if any pilot or other person shall assist in navigating or piloting such ship or vessel, unless it be for the purpose of carrying her beyond the limits and jurisdiction of the United States, every person so offending, shall forfeit and pay a sum not less than one hundred dollars, nor exceeding ten thousand dollars; and shall also be imprisoned for a term not less than one month, nor more than one year.

SEC. 3. And be it further enacted, That from and after the twentieth day of May next, the entrance of the harbors and waters of the United States and the territories thereof be, and the same is hereby interdicted to all ships or vessels sailing under the flag of Great Britain or France, or owned in whole or in part by any citizen or subject of either; vessels hired, chartered or employed by the government of either country, for the sole purpose of carrying letters or despatches, and also vessels forced in by distress or by the dangers of the sea, only excepted. And if any ship or vessel sailing under the flag of Great Britain or France, or owned in whole or in part by any citizen or subject of either, and not excepted as aforesaid, shall after the said twentieth day of May next, arrive either with or without a cargo, within the limits of the United States or of the territories thereof, such ship or vessel, together with the cargo, if any, which may be found on board, shall be forfeited, and may be seized and condemned in any court of
the United States or the territories thereof, having competent jurisdiction, and all and every act and acts heretofore passed, which shall be within the purview of this act, shall be, and the same are hereby repealed.

SEC. 4. And be it further enacted, That from and after the twentieth day of May next, it shall not be lawful to import into the United States or the territories thereof, any goods, wares or merchandise whatever, from any port or place situated in Great Britain or Ireland, or in any of the colonies or dependencies of Great Britain, nor from any port or place situated in France, or in any of her colonies or dependencies, nor from any port or place in the actual possession of either Great Britain or France. Nor shall it be lawful to import into the United States, or the territories thereof, from any foreign port or place whatever, any goods, wares or merchandise whatever, being of the growth, produce or manufacture of France, or of any of her colonies or dependencies, or being of the growth, produce or manufacture of Great Britain or Ireland, or of any of the colonies or dependencies of Great Britain, or being of the growth, produce or manufacture of any place or country in the actual possession of either France or Great Britain: Provided, that nothing herein contained shall be construed to affect the cargoes of ships or vessels wholly owned by a citizen or citizens of the United States, which had cleared for any port beyond the Cape of Good Hope, prior to . . . [December 22, I807,] . . . or which had departed for such port by permission of the President, under the acts supplementary to the act laying an embargo on all ships and vessels in the ports and harbors of the United States. SEC. II. And be it further enacted, That the President of the United States be, and he hereby is authorized, in case either France or Great Britain shall so revoke or modify her edicts, as that they shall cease to violate the neutral commerce of the United States, to declare the same by proclamation; after which the trade of the United States, suspended by this act, and by the. . . [Embargo Act] . . . and the several acts supplementary thereto, may be renewed with the nation so doing:

SEC. I2. And be it further enacted, That so much of the . . .
[Embargo Act] . . . and of the several acts supplementary thereto, as forbids the departure of vessels owned by citizens of the United States, and the exportation of domestic and foreign merchandise to any foreign port or place, be and the same is hereby repealed, after . . . [March I5, I809,] . . . except so far as they relate to Great Britain or France, or their colonies or dependencies, or places in the actual possession of either....

SEC. I3. And be it further enacted, That during the continuance of so much of the . . . [Embargo Act], . . . and of the several acts supplementary thereto, as is not repealed by this act, no ship or vessel bound to a foreign port, with which commercial intercourse shall, by virtue of this act, be again permitted, shall be allowed to depart for such port, unless the owner or owners, consignee or factor of such ship ol vessel shall, with the master, have given bond with one or more sureties to the United States, in a sum double the value of the vessel and cargo, if the vessel is wholly owned by a citizen or citizens of the United States; and in a sum four times the value, if the vessel is owned in part or in whole by any foreigner or foreigners, that the vessel shall not leave the port without a clearance, nor shall, when leaving the port, proceed to any port or place in Great Britain or France, or in the colonies or dependencies of either, or in the actual possession of either, nor be directly or indirectly engaged during the voyage in any trade with such port, nor shall put any article on board of any other vessel; nor unless every other requisite and provision of the second section of the act, entitled "An act to enforce and make more effectual an act, entitled An act laying an embargo on all ships and vessels in the ports and harbors of the United States, and the several acts supplementary thereto," shall have been complied with....

SEC. I4. And be it further enacted, That so much of the . . . [Embargo Act] . . . and of the several acts supplementary thereto, as compels vessels owned by citizens of the United States, bound to another port of the said States, or vessels licensed for the coasting trade, or boats, either not masted or not decked, to give bond, and to load under the inspection of a revenue officer, or renders them liable to detention, merely on account of the nature of their cargo, (such provisions excepted as relate to collection districts adjacent to the territories, colonies or provinces of a foreign nation, or to vessels belonging or bound to such districts) be, and the same is hereby repealed, from and after . . . [March I5,1809]

[SEC. 17 repeals act of April I8, I806, and supplementary acts after May 20,]

SEC. I9. And be it further enacted, That this act shall continue and be in force until the end of the next session of Congress, and no longer; and that the act laying an embargo on all ships and vessels in the ports and harbors of the United States, and the several acts supplementary thereto, shall be, and the same ate hereby repealed from and after the end of the next session of Congress.

 

Article Submitted by Andy Niekamp


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