The Embargo Act of 1807 was a law passed by the United States Congress in response to Great Britain's naval blockade of France during the Napoleonic Wars. The act forbade American vessels from leaving port for any foreign destination and prohibited all imports from Europe except for food and medical supplies. It was designed to economically isolate Britain and prevent it from interfering with US trade with other countries.
At first, President Thomas Jefferson thought that this would be an effective way to pressurize Britain into respecting neutral rights on the high seas. However, instead of causing economic hardship for Britain, it hurt America more, as their economy relied heavily on international trade at the time. As a result, many Americans began smuggling goods into Canada or simply ignoring the restrictions altogether. This caused prices to rise drastically in some areas due to shortages of certain items, such as cotton clothes, which were necessary components of everyday life back then. In addition, thousands lost their jobs due to decreased exports. Merchants saw their profits drop significantly because they could not import goods anymore, either legally or illegally, without paying heavy taxes imposed by Napoleon's Continental System (the French version).
The Embargo Act proved largely ineffective since there were so many ways around its enforcement; however, it did set an important precedent in demonstrating how powerful economic sanctions can be if used correctly by governments today against hostile states or organizations abroad who pose threats against them or disrupt global stability or trade relations between nations.