In 1808, the Federal government, reacting to unfair British policies, passed an Embargo Act, forbidding trade with Great Britain. The Champlain Valley relied on trade with British Canada and the Act was unpopular and significant smuggling developed. The Black Snake was the most notorious smuggling vessel of its day.In August, 1808, the Black Snake was in the Winooski River to load potash for Canada. The Revenue Cutter Fly seized the Black Snake and, in the confrontation, the Black Snake crew killed three men. The smugglers were tried for murder and three men were sentenced to be hung but only Cyrus Dean was executed. On November 11th, with 10,000 people present in Burlington, he was "swung off".