Didn't Tariffs start the war?

Philip Leigh

formerly Harvey Johnson
Joined
Oct 22, 2014
Okay, this is just cherry-picking something out of context. Here is the full editorial, and it is all about the federal government continuing to fulfill its duties and holding its forts during the crisis. It in no way suggests that tariffs are part of the causes for the sectional crisis:


Secession and the Revenue Laws (Philadelphia Press [Douglas], January 15, 1861)
There is great danger, at this moment, of some portion of the Northern and Southern minds being led astray by the false use of words. Men will agree that the Union should be preserved at all hazards, but will instantly disagree when they come to discuss the mode of its preservation. The touchstone of this mere logomachy is just this — shall the laws of the United States be enforced, say in South Carolina? It is not a question about coercing that State, but about enforcing the United States laws in it, so far as those laws need to be enforced.​
Can South Carolina, upon any constitutional ground, say that those laws shall not be enforced within her limits? If that be admitted, then the old exploded heresy of nullification of Mr. Calhoun is right, and it follows that General Jackson, and Henry Clay, and Daniel Webster, and Edward Livingston, and all that class of great statesmen, were wrong.​
But if they were right (and who will deny that they were?), South Carolina cannot say, upon any constitutional grounds, that the United States law shall not be enforced within her limits. Knowing, right well, how false her old position was, that State to-day takes the new one of her right to secede from the Union, and declares herself to have done so, and that, therefore, the United States laws are inoperative within her limits. The whole North, with a few inconsiderable exceptions, and, we believe, a great majority of the honest people of the Southern States, do not believe in this new-fangled right of secession in any other form than as that ultimate right of rebellion against tyranny, of which man cannot divest himself by any constitutional or social compact.​
That is the belief of the people, and the interpretation which they put upon the Constitution of the United States. It is the interpretation, as well, of the whole line of Presidents and of American statesmen from Washington down to these days. South Carolina denies and defies that interpretation, and proceeds to act on the line of that denial and defiance.​
Can we coerce South Carolina to alter her views and opinions? By no means. Let her entertain them if she pleases, so long as she entertains them as mere political abstractions. If it pleases her to think herself out of the Union, let her think so. But she cannot legally resist the execution of the United States laws, or seize the United States property within her limits.​
If her citizens will not serve as United States postmasters, the United States cannot compel them to do so. But they must not resist the pas sage of the United States mail on the post-roads in South Carolina. No law of South Carolina can make such resistance lawful.​
If her citizens will not serve as United States judges, or marshals, or jurors, the United States cannot compel them to do so. But they cannot lawfully resist such persons as please to serve in those capacities, nor can any of her laws make such resistance lawful, or such service unlawful.​
If her citizens will not serve as collectors of the United States revenue, and in the other fiscal offices, the United States cannot compel them to serve. But they cannot legally resist such persons as do serve. No law of South Carolina can make such resistance lawful.​
If she does not choose to send members to Congress or to vote for President, she cannot be compelled to do either thing.​
If the forts of the United States upon her sea coast displease her, and she covets the possession of them, she can only lawfully obtain them by an act of Congress ceding them to her. To seize them when ungarrisoned or by force, and to maintain them forcibly against the Federal Government, is levying war upon the United States, and that is high treason by the Constitution.​
Now, these are the main points of resistance by South Carolina, and of collision between her and the Union. They are powers of sovereignty, that she has once yielded up, and now claims the right to resume at her own will and pleasure. The United States say that she cannot so resume them. And that is the issue.​
It is not the policy of our Government to settle any such questions as these by war. It is not the wish of any considerable body of the people to do it, and that is proved by the intense repose of the North and West and East at this very moment. The idea of marching armies into the South, and subjugating States, has not been seriously entertained. At a time and under circumstances like the present, the central authority of the nation acts purely on the defensive. Its object is simply to hold its own, not to grasp at anything beyond. Conquest, subjugation, coercion, war with views of either, are objects of an offensive policy. Why should South Carolina be conquered, or subjugated, or coerced? She is not a foreign Power, however much she may think she is. She is still a sister State, and it is still hoped that the land of Marion, and Sumpter, and Pinckney will remain a sister State "to the last syllable of recorded time."​
It is not necessary to quarrel with her about the post-roads. If there are obstructions and difficulties placed by her in the way, we can withdraw the United States post-contracts and mail-service, so far as they are within her limits, and let her try, in her sovereign capacity, to furnish postal facilities to her citizens as best she may, while we refuse to recognize her arrangements, or to allow any connection of them with the United States mail-service. The pressure upon her own people, and of her own people, as well as that from neighboring States, would soon settle that difficulty if the secession mania does not mean while spread over nearly the whole South.​
We would not enforce the administration of justice just now in the United States Courts in South Carolina. The Judge has resigned. There need be no haste to fill the vacancy. There would be a necessary suspension of business until a successor was appointed, at any rate, and it can make no difference whether that is a suspension of a couple of months, or of as many years. There is no use of seeking collisions at this precise moment of time.​
With regard to the customs revenues in South Carolina, it may be questionable whether the best plan is to send a new collector or to repeal the acts creating the several ports of entry on the coast of South Carolina. This latter arrangement would avoid the collision of two sets of officers, and would prevent trade with foreign countries. It would be proper, we suppose, to prohibit coast-wise trade to and from the ports of South Carolina, whilst she is in her present attitude of armed defiance of the United States. In the enforcement of the revenue laws, the forts become of primary importance. Their guns cover just so much ground as is necessary to enable the United States to enforce their laws. The ground on which they stand has been bought from its private owners and paid for by the United States, and South Carolina has assented to the cession. Those forts the United States must maintain. It is not a question of coercing South Carolina, but of enforcing the revenue laws. We cannot allow a sovereign State to nullify the revenue laws — to which point the whole question reverts, whether the process by which she undertakes to accomplish that end is called nullification or secession. The practical point, either way, is — whether the revenue laws of the United States shall or shall not be enforced at those three ports, Charleston, Beaufort, and Georgetown, or whether they shall or shall not be made free ports, open to the commerce of the world, with no other restrictions upon it than South Carolina shall see proper to impose.​
If the forts are not maintained by the United States, then the revenue laws can only be enforced by blockade, and that upon a dangerous, nay, an almost impossible cruising ground. It would be a monstrous mistake to allow those forts, that command those ports, to pass into or remain in the hands of South Carolina. They are the only point around which there need be any fighting, if the people of South Carolina will fight. And fighting for the possession of those forts, they are fighting directly against the United States, and are guilty of rebellion and treason.​
Maintaining or retaking those forts, then, is not coercing South Carolina. It is but retaining in the hands of the United States, or recapturing, rightfully, what belongs to them. They are a convenient means of en forcing the revenue laws of the United States, and of protecting South Carolina and other States from foreign invasion, both of which are high sovereign duties of the United States. They are, also, a convenient means of restraining treason and rebellion, which is also a high sovereign duty.​
No one dreams of coercing South Carolina; but, on the other hand, no one dreams of letting her coerce the Union. The forts are to be held to enforce the revenue laws, not to conquer that State. The talk about coercing a sovereign State is got up by desperate demagogues to lead the people astray, and divide them upon false issues, whilst treason stalks boldly on to do its hellish work. It is a mere mask of treason.​
We would not have a soldier to march upon South Carolina, hardly under any conceivable circumstances. If she chooses to rush upon their forts, upon her own head be the blood of her gallant sons. She must neither be allowed to hold or to take them. That battle can be fought in and around them. That is all of her soil that the United States claims. That belongs to the United States; is essential to their sovereignty, and must be maintained, come what may.​
It is the enforcement of the revenue laws, not the coercion of the State, that is the question of the hour. If those laws cannot be enforced, the Union is clearly gone; if they can, it is safe.
I took quotes from ten newspaper stories. The full article you provide above for one of them is 1,740 words. Assuming that's the average, then I would need to quote 17,400 words to provide the full wording for all of them. Since there's an average of 275 words per type written page, that amounts to over sixty-two pages. That's madness. Nobody would read it.

Moreover, I disagree with you. The quote I provide is one of the important points of the article.
 

DanSBHawk

1st Lieutenant
Joined
May 8, 2015
Location
Wisconsin
I took quotes from ten newspaper stories. The full article you provide above for one of them is 1,740 words. Assuming that's the average, then I would need to quote 17,400 words to provide the full wording for all of them. Since there's an average of 275 words per type written page, that amounts to over sixty-two pages. That's madness. Nobody would read it.

Moreover, I disagree with you. The quote I provide is one of the important points of the article.
The editorials do not support your argument that tariffs were a cause of the war.

This editorial you must have felt was especially important, since you referenced it twice in your list, and you provided two cherry-picked quotes. Again, like the last one, this editorial is not about causes of the war, but about maintaining the federal revenues during the secession crisis:


WHAT SHALL BE DONE FOR A REVENUE? (New York Evening Post [Lincoln), March 12, 1861)
There are some difficulties attending the collection of the revenue in the seceding states which it will be well to look at attentively.​
That either the revenue from duties must be collected in the ports of the rebel states, or the ports must be closed to importations from abroad, is generally admitted. If neither of these things be done, our revenue laws are substantially repealed; the sources which supply our treasury will be dried up; we shall have no money to carry on the government; the nation will become bankrupt before the next crop of corn is ripe. There will be nothing to furnish means of subsistence to the army; nothing to keep our navy afloat; nothing to pay the salaries of the public officers; the present order of things must come to a dead stop.​
Allow railroad iron to be entered at Savannah with the low duty of ten per cent, which is all that the Southern Confederacy think of laying on imported goods, and not an ounce more would be imported at New York; the railways would be supplied from the southern ports. Let cotton goods, let woollen fabrics, let the various manufactures of iron and steel be entered freely at Galveston, at the great port at the mouth of the Mississippi, at Mobile, at Savannah and at Charleston, and they would be immediately sent up the rivers and carried on the railways to the remotest parts of the Union. Nay, they would be sent directly from these ports by sea to Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York and Boston. Shopkeepers would be supplied with their silks and laces from the same quarter. The shoe-shops would be furnished with their assortments from the French stalls, and the hatters'-shops would be filled with the work of French artisans which have never paid a penny to the govern ment. When these and other kinds of merchandise were once in the country there would be no way to prevent their free circulation and sale in every part of the United States. The mighty Mississippi and its great tributaries, the long railways reaching from one extremity of the Union to the other, the active fleet of merchant vessels employed in our coasting trade, would rapidly convey the untaxed merchandise to the most distant neighborhoods of our great domain. The government, without special authorization from Congress, will have no power to create a line of custom-houses along the North Carolina and Tennessee frontier, or to cover the Arkansas border with stations of revenue officers to intercept the contrabandists. The whole country would be given up to an immense system of smuggling, which, on near two thousand miles of coast, would meet with no obstacle, or interruption, or discouragement.​
What would Mr. Wood-screw Simmons, the Rhode Island senator, who caused a prohibitory duty on wood-screws to be inserted in the tariff which has just been passed by Congress, in order that a single screw-mill might make all the wooden screws used in the United States, and that its fortunate owners might grow rich “beyond the dream of avarice"—what would this patriotic and most disinterested legislator say, if cargoes of untaxed wood-screws were to be brought from the southern coast by our rivers and railways and on board of our coasting vessels, and dispersed all over the country, and his hopes of gain disappointed? Mr. Simmons would weep tears of hickory.​
To protect the interests of Mr. Simmons in the first place, and those of the federal treasury in the next, something must be done. The general expectation seems to be that the duties will be collected on board of armed vessels at the different ports of entry in the seceding states. Are our readers aware what a fleet this would require? There are seven collection districts in the little state of Florida alone; there are four in Alabama. At every port there must be a collector, with his army of appraisers, clerks, examiners, inspectors, weighers, gaugers, measurers, and so forth; there must be a Naval Officer and his staff of entry clerks.​
The Morrill tariff law, which we have just enacted, will make a larger number of all these necessary than would have been required a month ago. Where twenty men would have then answered the purpose thirty will now be needed. If we collect the revenue in this manner, with a fleet at every port and a corps of custom-house officers on board, it will cost us a great deal more than all we shall get. But can the revenue be thus collected? The importers arriving at the southern harbors will know how to address the Custom-House officers. “We have a cargo,” they will naturally say, “on which we do not care to pay duties just at present; we must deposit it in the warehouses for the term during which we are permitted to do so by law.” What will - the officers of the customs do in that case? The government has no longer any warehouses in the seceding ports. The hold of an armed vessel would neither be a proper nor a sufficiently spacious repository for the goods. The duties in that case cannot be collected; and the collector will be puzzled to know whether to let the ship proceed to her port or to detain her. We happen to know that there are importing houses at this moment preparing to take advantage of this opening for an unencumbered trade. They are getting ready to convey their cargoes to Charleston or Savannah; the goods will be landed there, and then brought coastwise to New York, where, being importations from a port within the Union, they will be subject to no duty. The new tariff, with its strange formalities and ingeniously devised delays, forms an additional inducement with them to take this course.​
What, then, is left for our government? Shall we let the seceding states repeal the revenue laws for the whole Union in this manner? Or will the government choose to consider all foreign commerce destined for those ports where we have no custom-houses and no collectors, as contraband, and stop it, when offering to enter the collection districts from which our authorities have been expelled? Or will the President call a special session of Congress to do what the last unwisely failed to do—to abolish all ports of entry in the seceding states?​
 

lurid

First Sergeant
Joined
Jan 3, 2019
As I have repeatedly explained in this thread, the OP is not about secession. It's about the role of tariffs as a cause to the war. They were an important reason the North chose to fight rather that let the cotton states leave in peace. The North wanted to avoid the economic consequences of disunion, several of which were related to tariffs as explained up-thread.



As explained up-thread, the winners of the war could have kept excise taxes in place, but they quickly dropped nearly all of them (except liquor) and chose to use high tariffs instead to pay off the war debts. Their choice reveals their priority. Moreover, they were deliberately profligate with spending in order to "justify" keeping tariffs high. By 1893 Republicans had bribed Union veterans with generous pensions so much that the pensions alone accounted for 40% of the Federal Budget.

If you equate the causes of secession with the causes of the war, you will never understand why the North chose to fight in order to avoid the economic consequences of disunion because the secession-centric proposition does not require you to investigate. For the Nth time, among the deleterious effects to Northerners are low a tariff Confederacy and the loss of the South's export engine on the Atlantic trade in the North as well as the loss of Southern markets to the Northern manufacturers of items that could be purchased as imports at lower price in the low tariff Confederacy. That does not even mention loss of tariff revenue.

Thanks for participating, but until you investigate the economic reasons why the North wanted to avoid disunion you will never understand the role of tariffs. Until then, I thank you for your participation and wish you all the best.

Thanks for the salutations. But the north went to war because the south fired on Ft. Sumter, but you believe the firing on Ft. Sumter was an excuse but you are trying to persuade us into believing you discovered the real reasons for the war. Not likely. You cannot separate secession from the war, they are indistinguishable because secession is the reason why the south started shooting in the first place. The north went to war to keep the Union intact because of National Security reason like I already stated on this board, not because they needed some measly cotton revenue to hold down the nation.

In 1860 the U.S. national debt was $65 million, by 1865 the national debt stood at $2.7 billion. Just the annual interest on that debt was more than twice our entire national budget in 1860. In fact, that Civil War debt is almost twice what the federal government spent before 1860. The 1860 federal budget was $63 million, but after the war, annual budgets regularly exceeded $300 million throughout the late 1800s.

Hence, what economic consequences did the north try to avoid from disunion? It appears, it was on the contrary to what you say because it cost the north more money than the south in terms of repaying the debt. Irrationally, the north went to war to double its national debt, increase its budgets by quadrupling it and raising its national debt by 50-fold. That must be a classic case of voodoo economics, that you seem to endorse.

Convincingly, cotton exports only consisted of 5% of the GDP and north and west made up of 95% GDP, so your theory of the north wanted war for taxes or cotton revenue is absurd because everyone in America was taxed and north picked up the majority of the tab. Yes, the north and Midwest payed the most taxes. Nevertheless, my theory is the north wanted the south to protect the continental USA is rather strong, see the Monroe Doctrine.

Let's reiterate: your theory is the north wanted south's miniscule and finite economic engine that consisted of merely 5% of the GDP in which the U.S.A was a closed economy during that time. Taxing 5% of GDP compared to taxing 95% of GDP is rather lopsided and deserves some scrutiny.

The graph below shows that cotton exports on consisted of 5% of the GDP.


cotton gdp.png


Those protective tariffs were not so bad anyway. Cost consumer tax as little as 1% of the GDP. Consumers did not bear an enormous burden from the high tariff rates because of the large weight on exportable goods(principally food) in domestic consumer expenditures. Therefore, if anyone had a grievance it would have been Midwest farmers because they felt the heat on exporting food.

If you knew eco metrics, you would have come to the shocking conclusion that tariffs in the late 1800s calculations presented here suggest that the 30 percent average tariff on total imports resulted in net protection of just 15 percent for import-competing producers (manufacturers) and an export tax of 11 percent on export-oriented producers (agriculture). It didn't even benefit manufacturing that much, and sure did not hurt the southern consumer that much. It hurt the southern elite, they could not import luxury items that cheap. It's called the wealth effect(Tariff Incidence in America's Gilded Age. Douglas A. Irwin:The Journal of Economic History.Vol. 67, No. 3 (Sep., 2007), pp. 582-607).

So no, tariffs were not the cause of the war because the south didn't have the economic prowess to lose over 800,000 men nor cause n outrageous amount debt for some measly cotton profits. Actually, if you that article that I posted JSTOR you will come to the shocking conclusion that the Midwest farmers suffered the most from the tariffs.
 

Horrido67

Private
Joined
Sep 29, 2019
The US Government could've financed a compensated emancipation, & spared hundreds of thousands of lives, billions in destruction, & possibly averted much of the animosity that still lingers today in some. An interesting "what if" conversation.

It is an interesting "what if". However, the US government could not buy slaves to free them when they weren't up for sale. Delaware had the negligible number of African slaves per capita, but even they refused Lincoln's offer for a compensated emancipation.
 
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lurid

First Sergeant
Joined
Jan 3, 2019
It is an interesting "what if". However, the US government could not bought slaves to free them that weren't up for sale. Delaware had the negligible number of African slaves per capita, but even they refused Lincoln's offer for a compensated emancipation.

Even if they were up for sale they were not worth paying the 1860 value. $4.5 billion in slaves would have been way above the $2.7 billion national debt the war created. Wasn't going to happen, at least at the 1860 marked up value.
 

unionblue

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Member of the Year
Joined
Feb 20, 2005
Location
Ocala, FL (as of December, 2015).
I took quotes from ten newspaper stories. The full article you provide above for one of them is 1,740 words. Assuming that's the average, then I would need to quote 17,400 words to provide the full wording for all of them. Since there's an average of 275 words per type written page, that amounts to over sixty-two pages. That's madness. Nobody would read it.

Moreover, I disagree with you. The quote I provide is one of the important points of the article.

It's a short cut denying the ability to see what you quote in any context. How do we know, like the partial quote you provide is not the full meaning of the article you clipped it from?

Perhaps you should list what source you got the quote from, if it is available online, so that others may decide for themselves if the quoted lines are the topic?
 

Horrido67

Private
Joined
Sep 29, 2019
Even if they were up for sale they were not worth paying the 1860 value. $4.5 billion in slaves would have been way above the $2.7 billion national debt the war created. Wasn't going to happen, at least at the 1860 marked up value.

I think it could have been doable if Slave-holding states had accepted significant discounts for their slaves and a condition of installment payments over 30+ years with no interest. However, I don't see it happening either as too few of slaveowners were ready to even consider any kind of emancipation in 1860. I can't help, but think that the Federal government would have to allow slavers to sell off their slaves to Latin America by re-opening the international slave trade.
 

unionblue

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Member of the Year
Joined
Feb 20, 2005
Location
Ocala, FL (as of December, 2015).
Yes they do.



The revenues addressed in the 1,100-word article are tariffs. That's the key point.

Then please post the newspaper, the title of the article and if it is available online or in another source, such as a book or article.

Then we can decide for ourselves if your source supports your view or not. That's fair, is it not?
 

unionblue

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Member of the Year
Joined
Feb 20, 2005
Location
Ocala, FL (as of December, 2015).
The editorials do not support your argument that tariffs were a cause of the war.

This editorial you must have felt was especially important, since you referenced it twice in your list, and you provided two cherry-picked quotes. Again, like the last one, this editorial is not about causes of the war, but about maintaining the federal revenues during the secession crisis:


WHAT SHALL BE DONE FOR A REVENUE? (New York Evening Post [Lincoln), March 12, 1861)
There are some difficulties attending the collection of the revenue in the seceding states which it will be well to look at attentively.​
That either the revenue from duties must be collected in the ports of the rebel states, or the ports must be closed to importations from abroad, is generally admitted. If neither of these things be done, our revenue laws are substantially repealed; the sources which supply our treasury will be dried up; we shall have no money to carry on the government; the nation will become bankrupt before the next crop of corn is ripe. There will be nothing to furnish means of subsistence to the army; nothing to keep our navy afloat; nothing to pay the salaries of the public officers; the present order of things must come to a dead stop.​
Allow railroad iron to be entered at Savannah with the low duty of ten per cent, which is all that the Southern Confederacy think of laying on imported goods, and not an ounce more would be imported at New York; the railways would be supplied from the southern ports. Let cotton goods, let woollen fabrics, let the various manufactures of iron and steel be entered freely at Galveston, at the great port at the mouth of the Mississippi, at Mobile, at Savannah and at Charleston, and they would be immediately sent up the rivers and carried on the railways to the remotest parts of the Union. Nay, they would be sent directly from these ports by sea to Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York and Boston. Shopkeepers would be supplied with their silks and laces from the same quarter. The shoe-shops would be furnished with their assortments from the French stalls, and the hatters'-shops would be filled with the work of French artisans which have never paid a penny to the govern ment. When these and other kinds of merchandise were once in the country there would be no way to prevent their free circulation and sale in every part of the United States. The mighty Mississippi and its great tributaries, the long railways reaching from one extremity of the Union to the other, the active fleet of merchant vessels employed in our coasting trade, would rapidly convey the untaxed merchandise to the most distant neighborhoods of our great domain. The government, without special authorization from Congress, will have no power to create a line of custom-houses along the North Carolina and Tennessee frontier, or to cover the Arkansas border with stations of revenue officers to intercept the contrabandists. The whole country would be given up to an immense system of smuggling, which, on near two thousand miles of coast, would meet with no obstacle, or interruption, or discouragement.​
What would Mr. Wood-screw Simmons, the Rhode Island senator, who caused a prohibitory duty on wood-screws to be inserted in the tariff which has just been passed by Congress, in order that a single screw-mill might make all the wooden screws used in the United States, and that its fortunate owners might grow rich “beyond the dream of avarice"—what would this patriotic and most disinterested legislator say, if cargoes of untaxed wood-screws were to be brought from the southern coast by our rivers and railways and on board of our coasting vessels, and dispersed all over the country, and his hopes of gain disappointed? Mr. Simmons would weep tears of hickory.​
To protect the interests of Mr. Simmons in the first place, and those of the federal treasury in the next, something must be done. The general expectation seems to be that the duties will be collected on board of armed vessels at the different ports of entry in the seceding states. Are our readers aware what a fleet this would require? There are seven collection districts in the little state of Florida alone; there are four in Alabama. At every port there must be a collector, with his army of appraisers, clerks, examiners, inspectors, weighers, gaugers, measurers, and so forth; there must be a Naval Officer and his staff of entry clerks.​
The Morrill tariff law, which we have just enacted, will make a larger number of all these necessary than would have been required a month ago. Where twenty men would have then answered the purpose thirty will now be needed. If we collect the revenue in this manner, with a fleet at every port and a corps of custom-house officers on board, it will cost us a great deal more than all we shall get. But can the revenue be thus collected? The importers arriving at the southern harbors will know how to address the Custom-House officers. “We have a cargo,” they will naturally say, “on which we do not care to pay duties just at present; we must deposit it in the warehouses for the term during which we are permitted to do so by law.” What will - the officers of the customs do in that case? The government has no longer any warehouses in the seceding ports. The hold of an armed vessel would neither be a proper nor a sufficiently spacious repository for the goods. The duties in that case cannot be collected; and the collector will be puzzled to know whether to let the ship proceed to her port or to detain her. We happen to know that there are importing houses at this moment preparing to take advantage of this opening for an unencumbered trade. They are getting ready to convey their cargoes to Charleston or Savannah; the goods will be landed there, and then brought coastwise to New York, where, being importations from a port within the Union, they will be subject to no duty. The new tariff, with its strange formalities and ingeniously devised delays, forms an additional inducement with them to take this course.​
What, then, is left for our government? Shall we let the seceding states repeal the revenue laws for the whole Union in this manner? Or will the government choose to consider all foreign commerce destined for those ports where we have no custom-houses and no collectors, as contraband, and stop it, when offering to enter the collection districts from which our authorities have been expelled? Or will the President call a special session of Congress to do what the last unwisely failed to do—to abolish all ports of entry in the seceding states?​

@DanSBHawk ,

Apparently you have found the source for the above article so it can be viewed in it's entirety. Could you please give your source so that others may view it all too?

Thanks,
Unionblue
 

Philip Leigh

formerly Harvey Johnson
Joined
Oct 22, 2014
Sir, please check your facts.The federal government did not quickly drop nearly all of Civil War taxes, including the income tax. Many taxes had remained in place until 1872. That's 7 years after the war. 7 years.

In 1867 the top income tax rate dropped from 15% to 5%. In 1870 it dropped to 2%. Exemptions also increased over that period. Income taxes for taxable year 1865 (collected in 1866) declined from $73 million to $35 million for taxable year 1868. Wartime license fees, excise and other "internal" taxes had similar reductions over the same period. Distilled spirits taxes, for example, dropped from $2.00 a gallon in 1865 to $.50 in 1868. In contrast, tariffs remained high.*

You fail to mention the above reductions.

Thus, the taxes (except tariffs) that remained in place until 1872 were often at much lower rates. The postbellum 7 year period that you emphasize compares to 48 years for tariffs on dutiable items averaging 45% as compared to 19% before the war. The second period is almost seven times longer and tariff rates did not drop toward the end of that period nearly as much as did the above income and excise tax rates.

The federal government was desperate to get revenues somewhere. . . So, the US government went back to tariffs + remaining Civil War taxes to pay off bonds . . . I mean if you look into the government's spending and public debt, their tax policies are almost self-explanatory. You were quick to accuse others on the thread of unable to "grasp that postbellum tariff policy", yet it seems like you are the one who is having difficulties . . . They couldn't forever levy many internal taxes that burdened their citizens and the laws might have been ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. (Pollock v. Farmers' Loan & Trust Co. 1895).

1. Regarding the 1895 Supreme Court decision on a plaintiff's objection to the income tax, you fail to mention that there were several earlier Supreme Court decisions validating the income tax, including Springer v. USA in 1880. From 1865 to 1895 the Federal Government undeniably had a choice over revenue sources. To benefit the North they chose tariffs, particularly on manufactured goods. (Shortly after Pollock v Farmer's the government started inheritance taxes. They could have done that earlier.)

2. The major postbellum revenues were tariffs and excise taxes on tobacco and alcoholic beverages. All were regressive thereby penalizing the impoverished South, and to a lesser extent the West. All were part of a Republican Party program to mostly promote the economic interests of the region north of the Ohio and Potomac rivers.

3. Tariffs on manufactured items were greatly abused. The wartime debts could have been paid off more quickly but for the Republican Party's bribery of former Union soldiers with generous veterans pensions. Instead of reducing tariffs when the government was running multiyear surpluses, Republicans liberally increased the pensions and expanded eligibility to many members beyond spouses and dependent children. In 1893, such pensions accounted for over 40% of the Federal budget. That's how pro-tariff Benjamin Harrison was elected in 1888. It's also how Republicans got some of the Midwestern states to support tariffs even though those states also had farmers who wanted to export.**

Consider also the 1869 Public Credit Act requiring that all war bonds be repaid in gold even though they were purchased with greenbacks that traded at a fluctuating discount to gold. In July 1864, for example, the greenback was quoted at $0.33 in terms of gold. This windfall for the bondholders was an extra burden on the taxpayer and it shows where Republicans of the era put their interests.

4. After three prior posts focused on antebellum tariffs, I applaud you for finally getting around to addressing my points, despite your errors.

* Historical Statistics of the US: Colonial Times to 1870, V.2 Y359-Y393
**Louis Hacker and Ben Kendrick, The U.S.A. Since 1865, (New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts, 1948), 88
 
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lurid

First Sergeant
Joined
Jan 3, 2019
In 1867 the top income tax rate dropped from 15% to 5%. In 1870 it dropped to 2%. Exemptions also increased over that period. Income taxes for taxable year 1865 declined from $73 million to $35 million for taxable year 1868. Wartime license fees, excise and other "internal" taxes had similar reductions over the same period. Distilled spirits taxes, for example, dropped from $2.00 a gallon in 1865 to $.50 in 1868. In contrast, tariffs remained high.

Thus, the taxes (except tariffs) that remained in place until 1872 were often at much lower rates. The postbellum 7 year period that you emphasize compares to 48 years for tariffs on dutiable items averaging 45% as compared to 19% before the war. The second period is almost seven times longer and tariff rates did not drop toward the end of that period nearly as much as did the above income and excise tax rates.



1. Regarding the 1895 Supreme Court decision on a plaintiff's objection to the income tax, you fail to mention that there were several earlier Supreme Court decisions validating the income tax, including Springer v. USA in 1880. From 1865 to 1895 the Federal Government undeniably had a choice over revenue sources. To benefit the North they chose tariffs, particularly on manufactured goods.

2. The major postbellum revenues were tariffs and excise taxes on tobacco and alcoholic beverages. All were regressive thereby penalizing the impoverished South, and to a lesser extent the West. All were part of a Republican Party program to mostly promote the economic interests of the region north of the Ohio and Potomac rivers.

3. Tariffs on manufactured items were greatly abused. The wartime debts could have been paid off more quickly but for the Republican Party's bribery of former Union soldiers with generous veterans pensions. Instead of reducing tariffs when the government was running multiyear surpluses, Republicans liberally increased the pensions and expanded eligibility to many members beyond spouses and dependent children. In 1893, such pensions accounted for over 40% of the Federal budget. That's how pro-tariff Benjamin Harrison was elected in 1888.

Consider also the 1869 Public Credit Act requiring that all war bonds be repaid in gold even though they were purchased with greenbacks that traded at a fluctuating discount to gold. In July 1864, for example, the greenback was quoted at less that $0.33 in terms of gold. This windfall for the bondholders was an extra burden on the taxpayer and it shows where Republicans of the era put their interests.

4. After three prior posts focused on antebellum tariffs, I applaud you for finally getting around to addressing my points, despite your errors.

Please post the primary documents to back your argument. Nobody has this much common knowledge of events in the past. Edited.
 
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leftyhunter

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Joined
May 27, 2011
Location
los angeles ca
The editorials do not support your argument that tariffs were a cause of the war.

This editorial you must have felt was especially important, since you referenced it twice in your list, and you provided two cherry-picked quotes. Again, like the last one, this editorial is not about causes of the war, but about maintaining the federal revenues during the secession crisis:


WHAT SHALL BE DONE FOR A REVENUE? (New York Evening Post [Lincoln), March 12, 1861)
There are some difficulties attending the collection of the revenue in the seceding states which it will be well to look at attentively.​
That either the revenue from duties must be collected in the ports of the rebel states, or the ports must be closed to importations from abroad, is generally admitted. If neither of these things be done, our revenue laws are substantially repealed; the sources which supply our treasury will be dried up; we shall have no money to carry on the government; the nation will become bankrupt before the next crop of corn is ripe. There will be nothing to furnish means of subsistence to the army; nothing to keep our navy afloat; nothing to pay the salaries of the public officers; the present order of things must come to a dead stop.​
Allow railroad iron to be entered at Savannah with the low duty of ten per cent, which is all that the Southern Confederacy think of laying on imported goods, and not an ounce more would be imported at New York; the railways would be supplied from the southern ports. Let cotton goods, let woollen fabrics, let the various manufactures of iron and steel be entered freely at Galveston, at the great port at the mouth of the Mississippi, at Mobile, at Savannah and at Charleston, and they would be immediately sent up the rivers and carried on the railways to the remotest parts of the Union. Nay, they would be sent directly from these ports by sea to Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York and Boston. Shopkeepers would be supplied with their silks and laces from the same quarter. The shoe-shops would be furnished with their assortments from the French stalls, and the hatters'-shops would be filled with the work of French artisans which have never paid a penny to the govern ment. When these and other kinds of merchandise were once in the country there would be no way to prevent their free circulation and sale in every part of the United States. The mighty Mississippi and its great tributaries, the long railways reaching from one extremity of the Union to the other, the active fleet of merchant vessels employed in our coasting trade, would rapidly convey the untaxed merchandise to the most distant neighborhoods of our great domain. The government, without special authorization from Congress, will have no power to create a line of custom-houses along the North Carolina and Tennessee frontier, or to cover the Arkansas border with stations of revenue officers to intercept the contrabandists. The whole country would be given up to an immense system of smuggling, which, on near two thousand miles of coast, would meet with no obstacle, or interruption, or discouragement.​
What would Mr. Wood-screw Simmons, the Rhode Island senator, who caused a prohibitory duty on wood-screws to be inserted in the tariff which has just been passed by Congress, in order that a single screw-mill might make all the wooden screws used in the United States, and that its fortunate owners might grow rich “beyond the dream of avarice"—what would this patriotic and most disinterested legislator say, if cargoes of untaxed wood-screws were to be brought from the southern coast by our rivers and railways and on board of our coasting vessels, and dispersed all over the country, and his hopes of gain disappointed? Mr. Simmons would weep tears of hickory.​
To protect the interests of Mr. Simmons in the first place, and those of the federal treasury in the next, something must be done. The general expectation seems to be that the duties will be collected on board of armed vessels at the different ports of entry in the seceding states. Are our readers aware what a fleet this would require? There are seven collection districts in the little state of Florida alone; there are four in Alabama. At every port there must be a collector, with his army of appraisers, clerks, examiners, inspectors, weighers, gaugers, measurers, and so forth; there must be a Naval Officer and his staff of entry clerks.​
The Morrill tariff law, which we have just enacted, will make a larger number of all these necessary than would have been required a month ago. Where twenty men would have then answered the purpose thirty will now be needed. If we collect the revenue in this manner, with a fleet at every port and a corps of custom-house officers on board, it will cost us a great deal more than all we shall get. But can the revenue be thus collected? The importers arriving at the southern harbors will know how to address the Custom-House officers. “We have a cargo,” they will naturally say, “on which we do not care to pay duties just at present; we must deposit it in the warehouses for the term during which we are permitted to do so by law.” What will - the officers of the customs do in that case? The government has no longer any warehouses in the seceding ports. The hold of an armed vessel would neither be a proper nor a sufficiently spacious repository for the goods. The duties in that case cannot be collected; and the collector will be puzzled to know whether to let the ship proceed to her port or to detain her. We happen to know that there are importing houses at this moment preparing to take advantage of this opening for an unencumbered trade. They are getting ready to convey their cargoes to Charleston or Savannah; the goods will be landed there, and then brought coastwise to New York, where, being importations from a port within the Union, they will be subject to no duty. The new tariff, with its strange formalities and ingeniously devised delays, forms an additional inducement with them to take this course.​
What, then, is left for our government? Shall we let the seceding states repeal the revenue laws for the whole Union in this manner? Or will the government choose to consider all foreign commerce destined for those ports where we have no custom-houses and no collectors, as contraband, and stop it, when offering to enter the collection districts from which our authorities have been expelled? Or will the President call a special session of Congress to do what the last unwisely failed to do—to abolish all ports of entry in the seceding states?​
I think it could have been doable if Slave-holding states had accepted significant discounts for their slaves and a condition of installment payments over 30+ years with no interest. However, I don't see it happening either as too few of slaveowners were ready to even consider any kind of emancipation in 1860. I can't help, but think that the Federal government would have to allow slavers to sell off their slaves to Latin America by re-opening the international slave trade.
To make the situation even more complicated in Brazil which was the only South American country where slavery was legal there was only a demand for young adult males if memory serves . Slavery was legal in Spanish Cuba but Cuba has only a finite amount of arable land for slaves so demand for slaves would be rather limited.
Leftyhunter
 

leftyhunter

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Joined
May 27, 2011
Location
los angeles ca
In 1867 the top income tax rate dropped from 15% to 5%. In 1870 it dropped to 2%. Exemptions also increased over that period. Income taxes for taxable year 1865 declined from $73 million to $35 million for taxable year 1868. Wartime license fees, excise and other "internal" taxes had similar reductions over the same period. Distilled spirits taxes, for example, dropped from $2.00 a gallon in 1865 to $.50 in 1868. In contrast, tariffs remained high.

You fail to mention the above reductions.

Thus, the taxes (except tariffs) that remained in place until 1872 were often at much lower rates. The postbellum 7 year period that you emphasize compares to 48 years for tariffs on dutiable items averaging 45% as compared to 19% before the war. The second period is almost seven times longer and tariff rates did not drop toward the end of that period nearly as much as did the above income and excise tax rates.



1. Regarding the 1895 Supreme Court decision on a plaintiff's objection to the income tax, you fail to mention that there were several earlier Supreme Court decisions validating the income tax, including Springer v. USA in 1880. From 1865 to 1895 the Federal Government undeniably had a choice over revenue sources. To benefit the North they chose tariffs, particularly on manufactured goods. (Shortly after Pollock v Farmer's the government started inheritance taxes. They could have done that earlier.)

2. The major postbellum revenues were tariffs and excise taxes on tobacco and alcoholic beverages. All were regressive thereby penalizing the impoverished South, and to a lesser extent the West. All were part of a Republican Party program to mostly promote the economic interests of the region north of the Ohio and Potomac rivers.

3. Tariffs on manufactured items were greatly abused. The wartime debts could have been paid off more quickly but for the Republican Party's bribery of former Union soldiers with generous veterans pensions. Instead of reducing tariffs when the government was running multiyear surpluses, Republicans liberally increased the pensions and expanded eligibility to many members beyond spouses and dependent children. In 1893, such pensions accounted for over 40% of the Federal budget. That's how pro-tariff Benjamin Harrison was elected in 1888.

Consider also the 1869 Public Credit Act requiring that all war bonds be repaid in gold even though they were purchased with greenbacks that traded at a fluctuating discount to gold. In July 1864, for example, the greenback was quoted at less that $0.33 in terms of gold. This windfall for the bondholders was an extra burden on the taxpayer and it shows where Republicans of the era put their interests.

4. After three prior posts focused on antebellum tariffs, I applaud you for finally getting around to addressing my points, despite your errors.
Aren't you forgetting that Southern states during Reconstruction voted for Republican Presidents who supported tarriff's and then stopped doing so due to racist Jim Crow restrictions on the right of people of color to vote? Why shouldn't generous pensions be awarded to those who suffered to fight for the preservation of America and to bring freedom to enslaved people's?
Leftyhunter
 

Horrido67

Private
Joined
Sep 29, 2019
In 1867 the top income tax rate dropped from 15% to 5%. In 1870 it dropped to 2%. Exemptions also increased over that period. Income taxes for taxable year 1865 declined from $73 million to $35 million for taxable year 1868. Wartime license fees, excise and other "internal" taxes had similar reductions over the same period. Distilled spirits taxes, for example, dropped from $2.00 a gallon in 1865 to $.50 in 1868. In contrast, tariffs remained high.

Thus, the taxes (except tariffs) that remained in place until 1872 were often at much lower rates. The postbellum 7 year period that you emphasize compares to 48 years for tariffs on dutiable items averaging 45% as compared to 19% before the war. The second period is almost seven times longer and tariff rates did not drop toward the end of that period nearly as much as did the above income and excise tax rates.

Sir, I have already addressed those points.

Edited.

Many Civil War taxes were new taxes.
People hated new taxes (they still do).
Tariffs were not a new tax.

The US government had to either reduce the rates or let new taxes expire by 1872.
However, they had to generate revenues from tariffs to pay off the wartime debts.

Sir, I have to emphasize this again - the Federal government was in financial ruin because of the war.
They did not intentionally started the war to put themselves in financial ruin only to increase tariffs.
Your fantasy doesn't make any whatsoever.

1. Regarding the 1895 Supreme Court decision on a plaintiff's objection to the income tax, you fail to mention that there were several earlier Supreme Court decisions validating the income tax, including Springer v. USA in 1880. From 1865 to 1895 the Federal Government undeniably had a choice over revenue sources. To benefit the North they chose tariffs, particularly on manufactured goods.

Sir, I have to tell you this again. People hate new taxes. Plus, Internal taxes, especially the income tax had always been in risk of being challenged as a "direct" tax in the Supreme Court. When the Federal government passed the revenue act of 1894, the Supreme Court was indeed struck down by the Supreme Court in 1895.

2. The major postbellum revenues were tariffs and excise taxes on tobacco and alcoholic beverages. All were regressive thereby penalizing the impoverished South, and to a lesser extent the West. All were part of a Republican Party program to mostly promote the economic interests of the region north of the Ohio and Potomac rivers.

3. Tariffs on manufactured items were greatly abused. The wartime debts could have been paid off more quickly but for the Republican Party's bribery of former Union soldiers with generous veterans pensions. Instead of reducing tariffs when the government was running multiyear surpluses, Republicans liberally increased the pensions and expanded eligibility to many members beyond spouses and dependent children. In 1893, such pensions accounted for over 40% of the Federal budget. That's how pro-tariff Benjamin Harrison was elected in 1888.

Sir, I have to point out again, it makes absolutely no sense for the Federal government intentionally started the war to put themselves $2.76 billion in debt just to increase the tariffs to promote manufacturing of some regions.

I mean, there is no conspiracy here. Civil War taxes were mostly war measures. People hate new taxes. They Federal government could not reinstate too many new internal taxes increase the revenues. Tariffs had to be collected to fund the government until the 16th amendment officially allowed the Federal government to collect income taxes without legal quandaries.

Yes, it is true. Republican Party almost bought the votes of GAR with Dependent and Disability Pension Act. However, please consider that those people wouldn't need nor be qualified if slave-holding states had not started the war over slavery. Edited.
 
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DanSBHawk

1st Lieutenant
Joined
May 8, 2015
Location
Wisconsin
@DanSBHawk ,

Apparently you have found the source for the above article so it can be viewed in it's entirety. Could you please give your source so that others may view it all too?

Thanks,
Unionblue
This is a two volume work titled Northern editorials on secession, edited by Howard Cecil Perkins. I don't know if it contains all the editorials Leigh is picking quotes from, but it has several. It's interesting to read down the titles of all the editorials in the table of contents. It definitely shows more of a moral patriotic concern on the part of the northern writers, and not much evidence of an economic concern with secession.

https://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/000407513
 

unionblue

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Member of the Year
Joined
Feb 20, 2005
Location
Ocala, FL (as of December, 2015).
This is a two volume work titled Northern editorials on secession, edited by Howard Cecil Perkins. I don't know if it contains all the editorials Leigh is picking quotes from, but it has several. It's interesting to read down the titles of all the editorials in the table of contents. It definitely shows more of a moral patriotic concern on the part of the northern writers, and not much evidence of an economic concern with secession.

https://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/000407513

@DanSBHawk ,

I thought those editorials looked familiar.

I have the same, two volume set and I agree most of the editorials do not concern themselves with economic concerns, tariffs or otherwise, when they are viewed in full and in context.

Thanks for providing your source.

Sincerely,
Unionblue
 

unionblue

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Member of the Year
Joined
Feb 20, 2005
Location
Ocala, FL (as of December, 2015).
Post 211 has been updated to provide sources.
* Historical Statistics of the US: Colonial Times to 1870, V.2 Y359-Y393
**Louis Hacker and Ben Kendrick, The U.S.A. Since 1865, (New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts, 1948), 88

Any chance these sources can be found online or did you reference them straight out of books?

I do wish to thank you for providing various links and websites in your post #211, but referencing your own blog seems a bit one-sided in my own view, but thanks for providing it anyway.

As for the rest, one site would not permit the book to be shown and the rest contributed to the idea that the tariff was the cause of the war, how? I saw a lot of stats about gold, the excise tax on whiskey, etc., and other modern views, but nothing clear on how this in some way equates to evil Republicans in 1860 somehow forecasting tariff increases if they fight the South over seceding from the Union.

Still comes across as more of a conspiracy theory than evidence supporting a case of criminal time travel

Unionblue
 
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Philip Leigh

formerly Harvey Johnson
Joined
Oct 22, 2014
Any chance these sources can be found online or did you reference them straight out of books?

I do wish to thank you for providing various links and websites in your post #211, but referencing your own blog seems a bit one-sided in my own view, but thanks for providing it anyway.

As for the rest, one site would not permit the book to be shown and the rest contributed to the idea that the tariff was the cause of the war, how? I saw a lot of stats about gold, the excise tax on whiskey, etc., and other modern views, but nothing clear on how this in some way equates to evil Republicans in 1860 somehow forecasting tariff increases if they fight the South over seceding from the Union.

Still comes across as more of a conspiracy theory than evidence supporting a case of criminal time travel

Unionblue

The reason for referencing my own blog in single instance was to show a chart from an independent source that has been used by many CWT members to document that tariffs before the Civil War on dutiable items averaged 19% whereas they averaged 45% for the next fifty years.

I guess you missed that.

As for the rest, it's customary to document facts. Insight is up to the abilities of the student.
 
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