On his epitaph, Thomas Jefferson indicated his authorship of the Declaration of Independence and the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, and his founding of the University of Virginia. He omitted, however, any mention of being the third president of the United States, perhaps because his policies failed to end encroachments on American rights during the Napoleonic Wars of the early 1800s. Great Britain, with its naval superiority, forbade American ships from supplying Napoleon’s armies and forced American sailors to serve in its navy (impressment).
After failing to change British policy with a Non-Importation Act (1806), Congress passed Jefferson’s Embargo Act (1807), prohibiting American ships and goods from leaving port. In the final month of his presidency, Jefferson repealed the embargo and signed the Non-Intercourse Act, which reopened trade with all nations except Great Britain and France. It also authorized his successor, James Madison, to resume trade with whichever of those nations stopped violating American neutral trading rights.