Page:Henry Adams' History of the United States Vol. 4.djvu/11

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June 22, 1807, while Jefferson at Washington was fuming over Chief-Justice Marshall's subpoena, and while the grand jury at Richmond were on the point of finding their indictment against Burr, an event occurred at sea, off the entrance to Chesapeake Bay, which threw the country into violent excitement, distracting attention from Burr, and putting to a supreme test the theories of Jefferson's statesmanship.

That the accident which then happened should not have happened long before was matter for wonder, considering the arbitrary character of British naval officers and their small regard for neutral rights. For many years the open encouragement offered to the desertion of British seamen in American ports had caused extreme annoyance to the royal navy; and nowhere had this trouble been more serious than at Norfolk. Early in 1807 a British squadron happened to be lying within the Capes watching for some French frigates which had taken refuge at Annapolis.