Didn't Tariffs start the war?

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Texson

Private
Joined
Jul 2, 2019
Thought I would say hello as its the first time on here. Hello! Now I will likely stir up a hornets nest with the one reason I sought out the site looking for the truth. I'm sure this has been discussed here relentlessly. The narrative today is the CW was fought over slavery but wasn't it started over tariffs Washington DC wanted to impose on the very productive South! The South was against the imposed tariffs and wanted to succeed which started the conflict. After campaigns that were brutal and the North having become disheartened and two blocked (a mariners term for rigging unable to move) Lincoln switched the narrative to slavery to get a new emphasis behind the Norths efforts. Just looking for the truth not interested in fighting the CW again.
 

GwilymT

Sergeant
Joined
Aug 20, 2018
Location
Pittsburgh
Thought I would say hello as its the first time on here. Hello! Now I will likely stir up a hornets nest with the one reason I sought out the site looking for the truth. I'm sure this has been discussed here relentlessly. The narrative today is the CW was fought over slavery but wasn't it started over tariffs Washington DC wanted to impose on the very productive South! The South was against the imposed tariffs and wanted to succeed which started the conflict. After campaigns that were brutal and the North having become disheartened and two blocked (a mariners term for rigging unable to move) Lincoln switched the narrative to slavery to get a new emphasis behind the Norths efforts. Just looking for the truth not interested in fighting the CW again.
Welcome to CWT. I think a reading of several of the seceding states’ declaration of causes my be in order. The overwhelming issue they address is slavery, not tariffs.
 

thomas aagaard

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 19, 2013
Location
Denmark
Thought I would say hello as its the first time on here. Hello! Now I will likely stir up a hornets nest with the one reason I sought out the site looking for the truth. I'm sure this has been discussed here relentlessly. The narrative today is the CW was fought over slavery but wasn't it started over tariffs Washington DC wanted to impose on the very productive South! The South was against the imposed tariffs and wanted to succeed which started the conflict. After campaigns that were brutal and the North having become disheartened and two blocked (a mariners term for rigging unable to move) Lincoln switched the narrative to slavery to get a new emphasis behind the Norths efforts. Just looking for the truth not interested in fighting the CW again.
Tariffs is something you pay on imports. And the rate is the same for the entire country.
So it make items that you would be importing from Europe more expensive.

It have no influence on what you produced and sold. (like exporting cotton)

Back then there was no income tax and more than 95% of the money the federal government had came from the Tariffs.

The south loved Tariffs... on Sugar and tobacco, Both things that the north would otherwise be importing from the abroad.
And less then 10% of the total value was collected in southern ports. (most of the total was collected in New York)
And they disliked the tariffs on industrial goods that they might have been able to import cheaper from Europe.

You are mixing up the timeline.
By the 1860 election because of the very low rates the government was running a huge deficit so something had to be done.
And the only real way to rise money was to raise the rates.
But no higher rate had been passed, since the senate blocked it.

The big issue in the election was not tariffs but slavery and this is what caused South Carolina to secede.

Lincoln and the republicans was going to ban slavery n the Territories. (Something Congress could do) And that was both going to kill it over time but it would also mean that any future states added to the union would be free stats. The south had controlled Washington for most of the existence of the US.
They lost this control in the 1860 election and instead of accepting this as the way it is in a democracy, they decided to get out of the union.

I actually think that was the right thing to do... if they had done it within the Constitution by going to Congress and found a solution. Instead they went outside it by declaring secession unilaterally.

That caused a political crisis.
And by the time Lincoln got into office in march 1861 there was really no going back. The President have no authority to change what is and is not a state in the union. That is up to Congress. And since the seceding states did not go to congress to find a political solution... war was pretty much unavoidable... If you expect a President to honor is oath of office.

The New Tariffs btw, had been passed by Congress. (the old one)
Something that became possible when some of the senators decided that they where no longer members.
So secession caused the higher tariffs, not the other way around.

Also in March the CSA cabinet decided to use force to solve the stalemate at Fort Sumter.

And in April, as Iam sure you know they attacked a federal fort on federal soil... and this is was started the war.
(And before you commend that the fort was in South Carolina... it was not. The SC statehouse had turned the area over to the federal government back i the 1830ties. Jefferson Davis had actually tried to give it back when he was secretary of war... they said no. Since then they would have to pay for the maintenance.)

So the secession was over the issue of slavery... (and the fact that the south lost control of congress and the presidency to an anti slavery party)
The way they seceded caused a constitutional crises...one that the CSA congress decided to solve by force.
So yes, the war was actually over the legality of unilateral secession... but that question was only relevant because of slavery.
 
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Rebforever

Lt. Colonel
Joined
Oct 26, 2012
Thought I would say hello as its the first time on here. Hello! Now I will likely stir up a hornets nest with the one reason I sought out the site looking for the truth. I'm sure this has been discussed here relentlessly. The narrative today is the CW was fought over slavery but wasn't it started over tariffs Washington DC wanted to impose on the very productive South! The South was against the imposed tariffs and wanted to succeed which started the conflict. After campaigns that were brutal and the North having become disheartened and two blocked (a mariners term for rigging unable to move) Lincoln switched the narrative to slavery to get a new emphasis behind the Norths efforts. Just looking for the truth not interested in fighting the CW again.
Lincoln was not interested in the slaves. He was not going to let the South go because of his impost, money, And save the Union.
Per his first inaugural address.

Read the Charleston Or’s for the build up of Lincoln’ sneak attack on South Carolina. The shooting started over that. Had nothing to do with slaves.
 

unionblue

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Member of the Year
Joined
Feb 20, 2005
Location
Ocala, FL (as of December, 2015).
Tariffs is something you pay on imports. And the rate is the same for the entire country.
So it make items that you would be importing from Europe more expensive.

It have no influence on what you produced and sold. (like exporting cotton)

Back then there was no income tax and more than 95% of the money the federal government had came from the Tariffs.

The south loved Tariffs... on Sugar and tobacco, Both things that the north would otherwise be importing from the abroad.
And less then 10% of the total value was collected in southern ports. (most of the total was collected in New York)
And they disliked the tariffs on industrial goods that they might have been able to import cheaper from Europe.

You are mixing up the timeline.
By the 1860 election because of the very low rates the government was running a huge deficit so something had to be done.
And the only real way to rise money was to raise the rates.
But no higher rate had been passed, since the senate blocked it.

The big issue in the election was not tariffs but slavery and this is what caused South Carolina to secede.

Lincoln and the republicans was going to ban slavery n the Territories. (Something Congress could do) And that was both going to kill it over time but it would also mean that any future states added to the union would be free stats. The south had controlled Washington for most of the existence of the US.
They lost this control in the 1860 election and instead of accepting this as the way it is in a democracy, they decided to get out of the union.

I actually think that was the right thing to do... if they had done it within the Constitution by going to Congress and found a solution. Instead they went outside it by declaring secession unilaterally.

That caused a political crisis.
And by the time Lincoln got into office in march 1861 there was really no going back. The President have no authority to change what is and is not a state in the union. That is up to Congress. And since the seceding states did not go to congress to find a political solution... war was pretty much unavoidable... If you expect a President to honor is oath of office.

The New Tariffs btw, had been passed by Congress. (the old one)
Something that became possible when some of the senators decided that they where no longer members.
So secession caused the higher tariffs, not the other way around.

Also in March the CSA cabinet decided to use force to solve the stalemate at Fort Sumter.

And in April, as Iam sure you know they attacked a federal fort on federal soil... and this is was started the war.
(And before you commend that the fort was in South Carolina... it was not. The SC statehouse had turned the area over to the federal government back i the 1830ties. Jefferson Davis had actually tried to give it back when he was secretary of war... they said no. Since then they would have to pay for the maintenance.)

So the secession was over the issue of slavery... (and the fact that the south lost control of congress and the presidency to an anti slavery party)
The way they seceded caused a constitutional crises...one that the CSA congress decided to solve by force.
So yes, the war was actually over the legality of unilateral secession... but that question was only relevant because of slavery.
@thomas aagaard ,

Very nice post that summarizes the idea that it was actually slavery, not the tariff, that brought on the war.

You did well and resisted the temptation to try and answer a complicated topic with just one or two sentences or without voicing just an opinion without a foundation.

Really appreciate your effort and patience.

Sincerely,
Unionblue
 

unionblue

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Member of the Year
Joined
Feb 20, 2005
Location
Ocala, FL (as of December, 2015).
Thought I would say hello as its the first time on here. Hello! Now I will likely stir up a hornets nest with the one reason I sought out the site looking for the truth. I'm sure this has been discussed here relentlessly. The narrative today is the CW was fought over slavery but wasn't it started over tariffs Washington DC wanted to impose on the very productive South! The South was against the imposed tariffs and wanted to succeed which started the conflict. After campaigns that were brutal and the North having become disheartened and two blocked (a mariners term for rigging unable to move) Lincoln switched the narrative to slavery to get a new emphasis behind the Norths efforts. Just looking for the truth not interested in fighting the CW again.
@Texson ,

I would suggest going to the search function on this forum and typing in the word "tariff" and clicking on the "search titles only" option.

It will save you a lot of time and give you an excellent chance to see how in detail this topic has been discussed on this forum.

And by-the-way, welcome to the forum.

Sincerely,
Unionblue
PS: It was about slavery and not the tariff. :wink:
 
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Philip Leigh

formerly Harvey Johnson
Joined
Oct 22, 2014
Welcome to CWT. I think a reading of several of the seceding states’ declaration of causes my be in order. The overwhelming issue they address is slavery, not tariffs.
What people do is more important than what they say.

On the eve of the Civil War tariffs on dutiable items were 19% but they averaged about 45% for the next fifty years. Thus, high and protective tariffs were undeniably one of the reasons the Yankees chose to fight in order to coerce the seven cotton states back into the Union.
 
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unionblue

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Member of the Year
Joined
Feb 20, 2005
Location
Ocala, FL (as of December, 2015).
What people do is more important than what they say. On the eve of the Civil War tariffs on dutiable items were 19% but they averaged about 45% for the next fifty years. Thus, high and protective tariffs were undeniably one of the reasons the Yankees chose to fight in order to coerce the seven cotton states back into the Union.
No, Harvey, they weren't.

As for the tariffs being protective and high for the next fifty years, some of that can be laid at the feet of the slaveholding South/Confederacy. Four years of bloody civil war had to be paid for somehow and then I see that you are failing (again) to take into consideration the evolving economic and political factors from 1860 to 1910.

The world didn't stop spinning after the war nor did politicians stop fiddling with the tariff or the economy thereafter.

Or are you going to blame Lincoln for the Great Depression 70 years after the war?

Unionblue
 

Philip Leigh

formerly Harvey Johnson
Joined
Oct 22, 2014
Tariffs is something you pay on imports. And the rate is the same for the entire country.
So it make items that you would be importing from Europe more expensive.
This misses the point of a *protective* tariff, which was the type of tariff the Confederacy outlawed. Protective tariffs are not chiefly intended to raise revenue. Their main function is to prevent competition from imports. This was particularly true for manufactured goods in the Civil War era. In fact, the optimal protective tariff (from the viewpoint of the protected industry) is one that results in zero duty collections because it completely blocks imports of the protected item.

Thus, the cost of a protective tariff to the consumer is primarily the higher prices he must pay for *domestically produced protected goods,* which was much more than the tariffs paid.
 
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Philip Leigh

formerly Harvey Johnson
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Oct 22, 2014
No, Harvey, they weren't.

As for the tariffs being protective and high for the next fifty years, some of that can be laid at the feet of the slaveholding South/Confederacy. Four years of bloody civil war had to be paid for somehow and then I see that you are failing (again) to take into consideration the evolving economic and political factors from 1860 to 1910.
That was the political spin that the Republican Party put on it during the period. Shortly after the war they suspended, or sharply reduced, the "internal" tax revenues used during the Civil War (such as excise and income) but intentional kept the tariffs high and greatly expanded protective tariffs.

I see you (again) are guided by political spin instead of facts.
 
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Philip Leigh

formerly Harvey Johnson
Joined
Oct 22, 2014
Tariffs is something you pay on imports. And the rate is the same for the entire country.
So it make items that you would be importing from Europe more expensive.

. . . The south loved Tariffs... on Sugar and tobacco, Both things that the north would otherwise be importing from the abroad.
The South did not "love" protective tariffs. That's why they were generally outlawed in the Confederate constitution.

America put a tariff on sugar from the start because it was a classical *revenue* tariff item since it was not produced in any state and was consumed in all of them. When Louisiana became a state the sugar tariff was already on the books and Louisiana was the dominant raw domestic sugar producer when the civil war started. It was a tiny industry at the time in comparison to cotton. Moreover, a substantial amount of sugar was imported at that time.

Starting in 1846, or so, the Yankees started putting tariffs on *refined* sugar after they began operating sugar refineries. Thus, they really weren't bothered much by tariffs on raw sugar as long as protective tariffs kept imported *refined* sugar out of the domestic market.
 
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unionblue

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
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Location
Ocala, FL (as of December, 2015).
That was the political spin that the Republican Party put on it during that period. Shortly after the war they suspended, or sharply reduced, the "internal" tax revenues used during the Civil War (such as excise and income) but intentional kept the tariffs high and greatly expanded protective tariffs.

I see you fail (again) to consider facts instead of political spin.
Nope, Harvey, that spin ain't gonna' work either.

You can't go from a nearly free trade version of the tariff in 1860 and then blame post war tariff policy on Lincoln.

Not unless you find that Wayback Machine of Professor Peabody's. :wink:
 
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Philip Leigh

formerly Harvey Johnson
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Oct 22, 2014
During the past thirty years most modern historians claim that slavery was the overwhelming cause of the Civil War. They increasingly insist that the South’s opposition to protective tariffs was a minimal factor, even though such tariffs were specifically outlawed in the Confederate constitution. One outspoken "expert" writes:

One of the most egregious of the so-called Lost Cause narratives suggests that it was not slavery, but a protective tariff that sparked the Civil War.​

On 2 March 1861, the Morrill Tariff was signed into law by outgoing Democratic President James Buchanan. . . A pernicious lie quickly formed around the tariff’s passage, a lie suggesting that somehow this tariff had caused the US Civil War. By ignoring slavery’s central role in precipitating secession and Civil War, this tariff myth has survived in the United States for more than a century and a half – and needs to be debunked once and for all.​

To begin, the annalist fails to note that antebellum tariffs accounted for about ninety percent of federal revenues, even though most of his comrades readily conceded the point. Thus, tariff policy was as important to antebellum Americans as federal tax policy is to us today.

 

Philip Leigh

formerly Harvey Johnson
Joined
Oct 22, 2014
While most modern historians can cite statistics showing a correlation between a Southern state’s propensity to secede in 1861 and its proportional slave ownership, they never cite statistics showing that the propensity also applies to those states opposed to the Morrill Tariff. Since the second correlation does not fit the currently popular Civil-War-was-all-about-slavery interpretation, it is hard to find. Consequently, the tariff-vote data in the table below comes from the May 1860 Morrill Tariff vote in the House of Representatives. Since that vote was six months before Lincoln was elected President, it wasn’t distorted by the secession crisis that began in December 1860.

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Philip Leigh

formerly Harvey Johnson
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Oct 22, 2014
Some readers of “Refuting the Tariff Debunkers” have met a desperate counter argument: “Yeah, but what about the tariffs on sugar and rice? Southerners benefited from those, so they were hypocrites about protective tariffs.” The argument is a smokescreen for three reasons.

cwt.jpg


 

Philip Leigh

formerly Harvey Johnson
Joined
Oct 22, 2014
And less then 10% of the total value was collected in southern ports. (most of the total was collected in New York)
This is a meaningless statistic. The figure of merit is where the tax is paid by the consumer as opposed to where it is collected.

 
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Philip Leigh

formerly Harvey Johnson
Joined
Oct 22, 2014
Historians hostile to Confederate heritage sometimes use the graph below to falsely claim that antebellum Southern complaints about tariffs were unjustified because New York alone accounted for the great majority of tariff collections. The assertion is false for two reasons.

First, the graph merely shows where tariffs were collected, not where the consumers who actually absorbed the cost of the duties resided. Since the eleven states that would become the Confederacy contained 29% of America’s population, it’s reasonable to assume that they paid about 29% of America’s tariffs in the form of inflated prices for the imported goods.

Second, and more importantly, Southerners complained about the unfairness of protective tariffs, not revenue tariffs. The classic example of a revenue tariff was the one on coffee, an item that could not be produced in America but was consumed in every state. In contrast, protective tariffs were not intended to raise revenue and were outlawed in the Confederate constitution. They were designed to protect domestic manufacturers from overseas competition. In fact, an optimal protective tariff raises no revenue because it blocks all competitive imports for the sheltered item. Most antebellum protective tariffs benefitted Northern producers, such as iron makers. They caused the antebellum South to buy $200 – $300 million of domestic goods annually from the North that would have otherwise been sourced from Europe. In contrast, the graph suggests that America’s total tariff bill was only $48 million in 1859.

 
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Philip Leigh

formerly Harvey Johnson
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Tariffs were the primary source of federal government revenues in the nineteenth century. Those that were higher than necessary to fund the government were generally termed Protective Tariffs because they were intended to protect domestic manufacturers from more economical producers overseas. As the center of an emerging industrial empire, the Northern states normally favored protective tariffs.

In contrast, Civil War historians generally cite three reasons why the South opposed protective tariffs and why they were outlawed in the Confederate constitution. First, the duties inflated the cost of consumer items that might otherwise be imported at lower prices. Second, since the South’s was an export economy a high tariff wall made it difficult for overseas buyers of American exports to generate the exchange credits needed to buy such exports. Third, the South had few manufacturing plants that would benefit from such tariffs.

 

unionblue

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
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Location
Ocala, FL (as of December, 2015).
I'm sorry that you cannot discern facts from spin.
Harvey,

One-liners do not 'discern' fact, they simply show a lack of effort for serious research.

You should read Taussig again and his observations of the US Tariff, before, during, and after the Civil War.

I'll try and dig up some previous posts and websites about him and his observations that disprove the tariff was the cause of the American Civil War.

Unionblue
 
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