What Was the Purpose of the Hartford Convention?

The purpose of the Hartford Convention was to protest the Federal Government's involvement in the War of 1812. The meeting was held in secret by Federalist delegates at the Old State House in Hartford, Connecticut on Dec. 15, 1814.

The Federalists were the dominant political party in New England and favored peace and trade with the British. The Federal Government's involvement called for the United States to support France in its battle against Great Britain, which would place a strain on the trade relationship. The Convention also sought to address the policies of the two successive presidents Jefferson and Madison from the Republican party. Jefferson implemented the Embargo Act of 1807 that banned foreign trade in order to convince Great Britain and France that the United States could survive as a neutral power; this plan failed, resulting in smuggling of goods and a tremendous loss in profits. Madison took measures to amend the Embargo Act, replacing it with the Non-Intercourse Act that allowed trade with all nations except Great Britain and France.

A year later, Congress replaced the Non-Intercourse Act with Macon's Bill No. 2, which reopened trade with both Great Britain and France, promising to stop trade with the opposite nation if one chose to respect the United State's right to neutrality. Napoleon used this bill against the British, forcing the United States to become France's ally in the war. All efforts of the Convention were null, however, because the war ended while the Convention was still in session when U.S. delegates signed the Treaty of Ghent.