Page:Henry Adams' History of the United States Vol. 4.djvu/349

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CHAPTER XV.

Early in August, at the time when public feeling against the embargo was beginning to turn into personal hatred of Jefferson, news of the Spanish outbreak reached America, and put a new weapon into Federalist hands. The embargo, in its effects upon Spain and her colonies was a powerful weapon to aid Napoleon in his assault on Spanish liberty and in his effort to gain mastery of the ocean. In an instant England appeared as the champion of human liberty, and America as an accomplice of despotism. Jefferson, in his pursuit of Florida, lost what was a thousand times more valuable to him than territory,—the moral leadership which belonged to the head of democracy. The New England Federalists seized their advantage, and proclaimed themselves the friends of Spain and freedom. Their press rang with denunciations of Napoleon, and of Jefferson his tool. For the first time in many years the Essex Junto stood forward as champions of popular liberty.

So deeply mired was Jefferson in the ruts of his Spanish policy and prejudices that he could not at once understand the revolution which had taken place. On hearing the earlier reports of Spanish