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Shaping a New Nation

Naval Battle on Lake Champlain (Battle of Plattsburgh) – Engraving by B. Tanner (1816) Courtesy of Wikimedia

Settlers flowed into the valleys after the revolution, eager to farm the fertile land, harvest timber and work the local iron deposits. But international politics soon interfered with their prosperity. President Jefferson’s Embargo on foreign shipping (1807-9) cut off access to markets in Canada. Smuggling took over all trade until the United States’ declaration of war on Britain in 1812 brought things to a head.

Throughout the War of 1812, British forces targeted Lake Champlain as an invasion route. Shipwrights all around the lake changed their plans for the boats they were building. Lieutenant Thomas Macdonough confined the British in the Richelieu River of Quebec throughout the summer of 1813, then won the definitive naval battle of the war in Plattsburgh Bay.