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Madison's demand was interpreted as a prelude to war. The embargo was passed promptly by Congress, and it expired on June 1. On that date, no satisfactory solution having been offered, Madison addressed his war message to Congress. He told Congress that "our commerce has been plundered in every sea," that Britain was intent on destroying American commerce "not as supplying the wants of her enemies, which she herself supplies; but as interfering with the monopoly which she covets for her own commerce and navigation." Madison also made an allusion to British participation in recent Native American uprisings and to other "injuries and indignities ... heaped on our country." He also condemned the hostile acts of France, but recommended that action on these be postponed for the moment. Madison concluded: "We behold ... on the side of Britain a state of war against the United States, and on the side of the United States a state of peace toward Britain." He asked Congress to decide whether the United States should remain at peace under these circumstances as "a solemn question which the Constitution wisely confides to the legislative department of the government." On June 18 Madison signed a declaration of war passed by both houses of Congress.
Ironically, and unknown to Madison, Britain had in fact revoked its restrictions on American shipping on June 16. The action had come after France's public repeal of its decrees restricting American trade, which had supposedly been effected more than a year before. When the long-anticipated war with Britain came, the Un
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