Dec. 22, 1807: President Thomas Jefferson signs the Embargo Act in response to British seizure of American cargo and impressment of American seamen during the Napoleonic wars.

The law, which forbids trade with other nations, hobbles Maine seaports’ economy, which was thriving until then. The law is repealed two years later, but continued agitation from the British eventually leads to the War of 1812.

For several reasons, these events all influence the ultimately successful effort to separate Maine from Massachusetts in 1820.

Joseph Owen is an author, retired newspaper editor and board member of the Kennebec Historical Society. Owen’s book, “This Day in Maine,” can be ordered at To get a signed copy use promo code signedbyjoe at checkout. Joe can be contacted at:

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