Was there a difference between how British or European powers treated New England shipping versus southern shipping? Why did the New England states still have an incentive to trade with Britain even when the British were impressing sailors? How could New England be so pro-British trade if America was being treated badly enough for Jefferson to try to justify an embargo and Madison to justify a war? Clearly New England still found it in their best interests to continue trade. So this leads me to question whether the abuses were really all that bad and were inflated by Jefferson and later by the war hawks or that British abuses were bad towards southern shipping, but that they for some reason left New England shipping alone. Which is it?
Jefferson’s Embargo was an attempt to head off calls for war that came in from all over the country in the wake of the Chesapeake-Leopard incident. Jefferson certainly didn’t inflate the abuses: he would rather have done nothing.
There was essentially no southern shipping. Yes, New England state flouted the Embargo (and later the War of 1812). Individual New Englanders did indeed decide that it was better for them to trade with the enemy in Canada illegally than to comply with the law, and state governors and legislatures in several states helped them with this. I provide the story in JAMES MADISON AND THE MAKING OF AMERICA, and for a more detailed version I recommend Henry Adams’s history of the US during the Madison administration.
I am just curious then why southerners were so incensed by British insults on the seas through impressments when they had very little to lose, while New Englanders, who had everything to lose since it was their trade that was at stake and it was their ships and sailors that were taking the abuse from the British, were against an Embargo and going to war with Britain. Why is the outrage and war fever coming so strong from parts of the country that interacted with Britain the least and those most effected, the victims in the Northeast, have very little problem with British policy?
In general, American exports in 1812-15 were southern products on northern vessels. Therefore, southerners did have skin in the game.
Madison’s war aims were an end to impressment and a favorable trade treaty with the British. The latter obviously would benefit southerners.
Don’t overlook the strong anti-British sentiment then current in the South. Napoleon had few friends there, but anti-British feeling associated with the American and French Revolutions had not died out.