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Tariffs

Discussion in 'Civil War History - Secession and Politics' started by redfish, Aug 13, 2002.

  1. redfish

    redfish Cadet

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    Would anyone have a list of pre-war tariffs? I am trying to understand world trade before the war, and how tariffs affected the southern states. Any recommended study materials is always greatly appreciated. regards.
     

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  3. unionblue

    unionblue Brev. Brig. Gen'l Member of the Year

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    Mike,

    I scrolled across this thread and have seen that none of us old-timers on the board ever answered you. Though late, the following thread has a bit of information on your question, a history of US Tariffs/Tariff Table:

    http://www.u-s-history.com/pages/h963.html

    Hope it helps you out, IF you are still out there.

    Unionblue
     
  4. unionblue

    unionblue Brev. Brig. Gen'l Member of the Year

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    Fellow Board Members,

    For those of you who tend to go with the theory that tariffs were the MAIN cause of the Civil War, I invite you all to list your sources, web sites, reasons, etc., here on this thread. I would love to see them all and see if I have any chance at all at countering them at some later point in this thread.

    I will be happy to contribute any sites or facts that on tariffs that I find also, pro or con.

    I await your response.

    Unionblue
     
  5. unionblue

    unionblue Brev. Brig. Gen'l Member of the Year

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  6. aphillbilly

    aphillbilly Guest

    Neil,
    I went to do as you asked. I went to the American memory site and there are just simply too many to even begin to list. The tariff issue was alive and well prior to the war. The very first one I looked at was a letter from William M. Reynolds to Abraham Lincoln. Granted it was dated July 25, 1860 but I think if you read it you will see it pertains to the tariff issue pre war and indeed, pre Lincoln nominated.


    "I have now just returned from a call upon Mr. Stevens2 with whom I had a very free conversation in regard to you & your views upon the Tariff -- no one else being present. He commenced by saying that he was satisfied from what he had heard of you that you were all right upon that subject, though he would himself have preferred that the Chicago Platform had been considerably stronger upon the point. It was the all absorbing question here in Pennsylvania. He wished that they could get hold of a speech that you had published upon that subject before your nomination. I then told him of the conversations which I had had with you, by which he declared himself much gratified"

    That is just a portion of the letter but you can see it was not considered a non issue. You know, the date actually shows how .... well ...considering the timing...brink of war, where Pennsylvania’s priorities were?

    But as I said. There are just simply too many to list singly.

    Yet if you go here and type in a year, a person etc, coupled with the word tariff you get plenty of fodder supporting the tariff as an issue of note prior to the war. Or if you type in “Fragments on Protection” you can get tariff views specific to Lincoln.

    Hope that helps....

    http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/ammemhome.html

    YMOS
    tommy
     
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  7. unionblue

    unionblue Brev. Brig. Gen'l Member of the Year

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    Tommy,

    Thanks for the heads-up on the site, but I got one for you too entitled Chapter 9: Records of the Committee on Finance and Related Records, 1816-1901:

    http://www.archives.gov/records_of_congress/senate_guide/chapter_09_1816_1901.ht ml

    What the site shows me is that tariffs were a big deal, almost a routine deal for Congress to deal with, not something you would go to war over. The reason we see so much on it is because it is basically a normal function of government, routine even, much like a meeting over finance in the Congress today, everyday business, not the crisis that slavery was.

    Unionblue
     
  8. thea_447

    thea_447 Cadet

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    Thanks for the site concerning Tariffs. This has been most illuminating. http://www.u-s-history.com/pages/h963.html
    The Buchanan Administration
    Tariff of 1857
    The Panic of 1857 yielded a major depression in the United States and later in many other parts of the globe. One result of the worldwide economic difficulties was a general stagnation in trade.

    Advocates of downward tariff reform in the U.S. argued that the country would benefit from the availability of cheaper foreign imports and would profit from the ability of domestic farmers and manufacturers to sell their products in distant markets.

    In 1857 the average rate was reduced to the neighborhood of 20 percent. The trend toward lower tariffs had begun most recently in the Walker Tariff of 1846, but would be abruptly halted by wartime tariff measures.

    The Tariff of 1857 was warmly greeted in the South and roundly derided in the North. The tariff was one of a number of major issues that was dangerously increasing the tension between the two regions.

    The Civil War
    Wartime Tariff Legislation
    Justin Morrill, Representative from Vermont, gained approval for a sharply increased tariff measure on March 2, 1861, two days before Abraham Lincoln was inaugurated. Little opposition had been raised against the proposal, given that seven Southern states had seceded. The South had vainly, and probably accurately, argued that they paid a major portion of the tariff burden, but the revenue generated from the duties was spent overwhelmingly in the North.

    The Morrill Tariff of 1861, an abrupt departure from the earlier Walker Tariff, was signed into law as one of the last acts of the outgoing president, James Buchanan. Other wartime tariff measures would bring the average rate to about 47 percent by war’s end—approximately the same level as the Tariff of Abominations in 1828. A reversal in policy would not occur until the relatively mild reform tariffs of the Reconstruction era.

    Some more on this subject, concerning Lincoln: I feel that whether or not he was misquoted at times, the end result was still the same. Lincoln and the Republicans got what they wanted. I believe that Lincoln thought that either he could bluff the South or that, if he could not bluff, a "little war" wouldn't be such a bad thing. Either way, it was a gross miscalculation that resulted in four long years of war, to be followed by a Reconstruction that pushed these sections of the country even farther apart than before.

    The wartime tariff acts did indeed enable Lincoln to raise funds with which to vanquish the Confederacy.(123) In the process, however, manufacturers, desirous of shielding their products from foreign competition, found their opportunity in the financial needs of the government. They secured a high degree of protection.(124) While the main reasons for the war tariffs, which Lincoln approved, were the need of revenue for the government and the desire to compensate the various interests imposed upon by the internal imposts,(125) the final shape of the tariffs enacted during the war was largely owing to the endeavors of protected manufacturers to gain each for himself the greatest possible advantage irrespective of the other’s interests. Above all, the habits engendered during this period of comprehensive protection to almost everything led to a crystallization of the sentiment in favor of national economic exclusion and isolation. For many decades American commercial policy was molded by the feelings and habits generated during Lincoln’s wartime administration.(126)

    After he reached Washington to assume the presidency in 1861, Lincoln rarely considered the tariff other than as a method to raise money.(127) Certain it was that Henry C. Carey, who had repeated consultations with Lincoln during the war,(128) was keenly disappointed at the lack of attention manifested toward the question by the President, who was always so deeply absorbed in the political and military aspects of the war. And early in February, 1865, Carey gave vent to his feelings: “Protection made Mr. Lincoln president. Protection has given him all the success he has achieved, yet has he never, so far as I can recollect, bestowed upon her a single word of thanks. When he and she part company, he will go to the wall.”(129)

    What Lincoln’s course would have been toward the tariff had he lived cannot be determined. For decades following his death, however, protectionists, in summoning testimony from “the Fathers,” made full use of Lincoln’s high-tariff record to bolster their claims that huge duties on imports were economically sound and socially desirable; at times the more zealous, in combating free trade, misquoted Lincoln and even concocted orations which they attributed to him.(130) Nevertheless, under him the American nation went definitely on a high-tariff program, and to Lincoln’s party Henry C. Carey’s principles became an act of faith.

    And Neil, I don't think even you, as strongly a Union man as I've run across on these and other boards, can possibly believe that you can convince us (namely Tommy and me) that "tariffs were just an ordinary part of everyday business." My mind drifts back to the Boston Tea Party.

    The North's industrial push required vast amounts of money. Everyone knew that the South had the revenues to support it, but the South was bitterly resentful at always picking up the tab at the dinner table.

    (She traverses the turret, thinking....wouldn't a nice cold glass of tea taste good about now. Ah well, these muscadines will do nicely.)
     
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  9. thea_447

    thea_447 Cadet

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    I found this quite interesting.
    It's from a fragment of a letter written by Lincoln (1848), notes on what he would like for Zachary Taylor to say in his Presidential bid.
    It appears Lincoln had quite an influence at this time, around the Mexican War period.
    http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/r?ammem/mal:mad:field(DOCID+@lit(d0014200))
    "It appears to me that the national debt created by the war, renders a modification of the existing tariff indispensable; and when it shall be modified, I should be pleased to see it adjusted with a due reference to the protection of our home industry-- The particulars, it appears to me, must and should be left to the untramelled discretion of Congress--"

    "As to the Mexican war, I still think the defensive line policy the best to terminate it-- In a final treaty2 of peace, we shall probably be under a sort of necessity of taking some teritory; but it is my desire that we shall not acquire any extending so far South as to enlarge and agrivate the distracting question of slavery-- Should I come into the presidency before these questions shall be settled, I should act in relation to them in accordance with the views here expressed--"


    (Note: A clear indication that Lincoln drafted these suggestions well before the peace treaty was ratified in March 1848.)

    Finally, were I president, I should desire the legislation of the country to rest with Congress, uninfluenced by the executive in it's origin or progress, and undisturbed by the veto unless in very special and clear cases--

    (Endorsed by Lincoln)

    The foregoing paper was written by Lincoln in 1848 as being what he thought Genl Taylor ought to say--

    ( The paper of the document is the same as that on which Lincoln wrote out his Mexican War speech of January 12, 1848.)
     
  10. unionblue

    unionblue Brev. Brig. Gen'l Member of the Year

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    Thea and Tommy,

    I have come back to this thread again, trying to keep the subject of tariffs here.

    From the book, "The Cause Lost", chapter 11, page 180-181:

    "In the past Southern politicians had shown themselves rather indifferent to the whole business of state rights in any context in which slavery was NOT involved. In 1814 when New England states met in the so-called Hartford Convention to protest the War of 1812 and federal interference with their militias and other state issues, the South stood almost united in opposing the New Englanders for raising the issue of state rights. Later patron saints of secession, such as John C. Calhoun, came forth as CHAMPIONS of nationalism over state rights. Calhoun supported a much greater challenge to the local rights of Southern and other states in the 1820's when he joined with Henry Clay in pushing a program of internal improvements that used federal money to build roads and canals and improve rivers and harbors. That scheme represented the biggest challenge to state rights ever seen, yet the South did not feel sufficiently committed to the sanctity of state rights ideology in these instances that it went to war or seceded or even threatened to secede.

    Indeed, the only regional matter other than slavery in the territories that really irritated the fathers of secession was the tariff. Ardent fire-eaters such as Robert B. Rhett became almost apoplectic over what they perceived as an inequitable tariff that discriminated against the South, YET TIME AFTER TIME Rhett could not arouse sufficient interest in the subject in his region to organize a unified protest, LET ALONE SECEDE OR GO TO WAR OVER THE ISSUE."

    While I have seen the sites you and Tommy have listed here on this thread, all they point out to me is the above basically. Though the tariff may have been an issue of the times, over and over again, it does not point to it being a cause of the war. Was it important to the government of the time? Yes, as this was the primary means of raising revenue for the government as there was no income tax, the men in Congress would always be adjusting, tinkering, fixing, rasing and lowering it, per the politics of the moment, just like our budget today.

    But a cause of the war? Nope, the men of the period won't even agree to that one.

    Sincerely,
    Unionblue

    (Message edited by Unionblue on July 19, 2003)
     
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  11. unionblue

    unionblue Brev. Brig. Gen'l Member of the Year

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    Here is the main reason I CANNOT buy the idea that tariffs were the cause of the Civil War.

    Check this link which lists the South Carolina Secession Debate:

    http://history.furman.edu/~benson/docs/scdebate2.htm

    When you click onto the above link, scroll on down to where KEITT gives his views on why South Carolina is leaving the Union. He pretty much says it all. It is not about the tariff, its about slavery.

    For your further viewing pleasure, here is a site that gives an overall view of the subject called, "1816-1860: The Second American Party System and the Tariff." Good background info.

    http://www.tax.org/Museum/1816-1860.htm

    And here is an excellent site concerning the nullification crisis that bring up some past problems and excitement about the tariff issues of the time; "The Hayne-Webster Debate" for one:

    http://www.earlyrepublic.net/hwdebate.htm

    And this interesting site on "Nullification Issues" at:

    http://www.jmu.edu/madison/nullification/index.htm

    And for a comment on tariffs just before the Civil War by Senator Thaddeus Stevens:

    http://members.tripod.com/~american_almanac/thaddeus.htm

    Even if you all don't agree with the idea that the tariffs were not the cause of the war, I hope you enjoy looking over the above sites.

    Sincerely,
    Unionblue
     
  12. aphillbilly

    aphillbilly Guest

    Neil,
    It is obvious to me you have been busy. Cool links.......

    It is also obvious to me you are looking at this a bit backwards. You seem to think the south decided to secede and that was the “Cause” yet it was the other way around. Simply put the various financial abuses the south were attacked with were bad enough, the ones apparent in the future were worse. (Remember the site I provided showing the south did NOT have control of congress after 56. http://www.msu.edu/~jenki107/jenknok.PDF) After 60 it was foregone conclusion worse abuses were on the way. On every front.

    So they were looking for contractual violations the north had repeatedly committed as legitimate excuse to leave. Technicalities as it were. They could not legally secede without doing that. Whether you believe secession was legal or not, they did and they tried to do it legally.

    They could not secede for Tariffs alone. Not legally. They used the one most glaring violation of the Union’s contract that the North repeatedly willingly violated. Guess what. If the north had not violated it, if the north had not made it clear they were going to bleed the south more dry, the south would have had neither the motive but more importantly the legal grounds to secede. So who CAUSED what eh?

    YMOS
    tommy
     
  13. unionblue

    unionblue Brev. Brig. Gen'l Member of the Year

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    Tommy,

    No, sorry, I don't read it as backwards the reason, THE cause, as it were. Slavery was the reason the South left the Union, not the tariff.

    As for the idea that secession was 'legal' and these men had to justify it in some way, thats like backing up to the whole issue in my mind. The men of the time said it was NOT about the tariff, they disputed it themselves when coming up for the main reason for their leaving and came up with slavery. I will agree that the Fugitive Slave Act figured in to some of the reasoning, but again the issue there was slavery AGAIN.

    As for the site you have provided, I have checked it out before. Again, the South was outnumbered in the House of Representatives, but not in the Senate. Nor was she outnumbered on the bench of the Supreme Court. The South, if it had desired to, could have had any legislation concerning its interest, tied up in legal knots leaving Lincoln in the cold.

    And you are right, I view the entire idea of secession being based on 'legal' technicalities as high comedy. The idea that the South could not base secession on tariffs alone ought to say something about just how little an issue that was at that time.

    And please, it has already been shown on another thread, the Part I of this one I think, that out of the 326? cases concerning the Fugitive Slave Act, 300 slaves were returned. Smoke and mirrors and another so-called 'legal' issue to secede over. Legal means my eye!

    Until that time,
    Unionblue
     
  14. unionblue

    unionblue Brev. Brig. Gen'l Member of the Year

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    Friends,

    Another interesting web site entitled, "Causes of the War Seminar" where you can view a few things said about the tariff from a thread almost like this one.

    http://www.gdg.org/dtcause.html

    Will keep checking for more sites about the tariff or tariffs.

    Unionblue
     
  15. aphillbilly

    aphillbilly Guest

    Neil,
    You have to better than that one. When the moderator is the one trashing the tariff as an issue it show a severe lack of objectivity. Where I come from moderators moderate they do not participate in a debate. Especially damaging in light he is neither a historian nor even an economics guy...he is a math prof. Fun to read though, I sure wish I could have argued with them.

    YMOS
    tommy

    (Message edited by aphillbilly on July 22, 2003)
     
  16. johan_steele

    johan_steele Colonel Retired Moderator

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    I, like Neil, don't see the tariff issue as anything but smoke a mirrors. For a very long time I didn't believe Slavery had anything to do with the War. I still don't believe it was in anyway in the forefront of the CSA Soldiers mind. That was primarily "States Rights" though I wonder how many of those men understood everything that meant. If you think I'm wrong ask any HS student what is within the Third Amendment... I'll be shocked if they know.

    What I have come to believe is that Slavery was in the forefront to the leaders of the CSA. Yes, tariffs were an issue but I think it was merely more ammunition for the secession crowd. But I think it was more along the lines of what our illustrious Democrats are doing today. "No matter what is done it's not being done by one of us and therefore is not right." Or perhaps more of "Now who the hell is that guy to tell us Slavery is wrong and how dare he tell us what to do?" The Civil War was inevitable from the start of the 1850's. Slavery was the dividing issue. It was an issue that Northerners, innocent or not, could point at as morally wrong.

    Could the War have been avoided by more level headed men? Maybe, probably only delayed at best. Politicians are politicians. Always have been, always will be. Who was right & who was wrong? It doesn't matter, the victor writes the history and there is no doubt who won.

    The reasons? Thea and Aphillbilly have beat the board to death with blaming the North and those ****ed Yanks for starting the war, Connie Boone did her level best to paint the South as evil (whether she was willing to admit it or not). All things said and done Politicians started the War, soldiers finished it. American heroes, both North and South, men who lived from one day to the next. Some were good men, some not. But they were all Americans and after the War ended there was a reconcilliation of sorts. The kind of reconcilliation of the like the world had not seen before. Was it fair, easy or even all that peachy? No, but every man women and child of the South was not put to the sword, not even one in ten or one in a thousand. There was no mass starvation, a lot of rebuilding had to be done and it was done. The South isn't a bad place, you have to look very carefullly to see the visable scars. The emotional scars are still there in places and there are some who hang on to the belief that the South shall rise again and do it all over.

    Pure and simply the one dividing line I can see between the Union and Confederate soldier was Slavery... but it wasn't a dividing line between the men who fought the war. Most of them could have cared less about it. They were more concerned with day to day survival. The general concensus seemed to be that the war could have been ended at any time by the men fighting it but BOTH cabinets would be swinging from trees the next morning. Maybe that would have been the better answer, but the end result would have been the same... Slavery dead in North America.
     
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  17. unionblue

    unionblue Brev. Brig. Gen'l Member of the Year

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    Friends,

    Found a very interesting site having to do with tariffs.

    The Tariff History of the United States, Part I, by F.W. Taussig, Henry Lee Professor of Economics in Harvard University 1910.

    This is a 271 page document in PDF format, placed on-line this year. This is a BIGGIE, taking the reader from the start of this country's tariff acts, all the way through 1909.

    Page 100 entitled, Part II. Tariff Legislation, 1861-1909, Chapter 1, The War Tariff, makes very interesting reading. If you got the time to plow through this thing, you can learn a lot about the tariff, how it operated, what was 'taxed' and for how much and just how important the tariff was (or how important it WAS NOT) in leading up to the Civil War.

    http://www.mises.org/etexts/taussig.pdf

    Another site of interest if the following entitled, 'The Tariff/Nullification Crisis' at:

    http://aam.wcu.edu/deville/null.html

    Let me know what you think.

    Unionblue

    (Message edited by Unionblue on August 07, 2003)
     
  18. unionblue

    unionblue Brev. Brig. Gen'l Member of the Year

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    Friends,

    Another interesting tidbit about tariffs in the years before the Civil War. From the book, "The Impending Crisis, 1848-1861", by David M. Potter.

    In Chapter 2, Portents of a Sectional Rift, the groundwork is laid for the first beginnings of North / South splits due to southern Democrats sabotaging the nomination of Van Buren, and then allowing the belief that once Texas was annexed as a slave state, they would permit the admission of Oregon as a free state, maintaining the balance of power between the North and the South. Polk led the party to believe that he supported the plan and got party support and votes in all of the states on this issue.

    Instead, once Texas had been admitted as a slave state, southern Democrats, with support from President Polk, tried to keep Oregon out of the picture, giving the South the edge in the Senate. On page 26, paragraph 2, the story continues:

    "The third apple of discord was the tariff. Here again, Polk's excessively adroit campaign methods made trouble for his administration. During the campaign he had written an ambiguous letter to John K. Kane of Philadelphia in which he did not quite say that he favored a protective tariff, but did express approval of "protection to all the great interests of the whole Union...including manufactures." With this document in hand, Pennsylvania Democratic leaders had been able to convince the voters, and perhaps even themselves, that Polk would not reduce duties, and they had carried the state for him against Clay.

    But when he appointed Robert J. Walker, a man of free-trade convictions, as his secretary of the treasury, and when Walker produced an administration-sponsored measure that was one of the few real tariff reductions in American history, northern Democrats again felt betrayed. In July 1846, Walker's bill passed the House by a vote of 114 to 95 with seventeen northern Democrats joining the Whigs who voted solidly against it. In the Senate, it passed by a single vote, 28 to 27, with three northern Democrats in opposition and one Whig, under the duress of instructions from his state legislature, in support. Northern opponents were quick to note that the measure could not have passed without the votes of the two new senators from Texas."

    Interesting what a man will say or do to get elected President and then what he does when he gets into office, isn't it?

    Unionblue
     
  19. rbenne

    rbenne Cadet

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    "The Panic of 1857 yielded a major depression in the United States and later in many other parts of the globe. One result of the worldwide economic difficulties was a general stagnation in trade."

    I would think this is a very major point. The depression of 1857 was only 3 years past at the outbreak of the war. After a major economic downturn one is rather sensitive about issues that may have caused that downturn. (at least issues in their minds that caused it)
     
  20. unionblue

    unionblue Brev. Brig. Gen'l Member of the Year

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    Mr. Benne,

    Or may I have the privilege of calling you Ray? Am I to understand then, that you consider the tariff of 1857 a cause of the Civil War or that it was merely a campaign issue of 1858?

    Sincerely,
    Unionblue
    PS Welcome to the board.
     
  21. rbenne

    rbenne Cadet

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    Neil;

    Please feel free to call me Ray;

    I was refering to a causation of war although I am sure it was also a campaign issue.

    Not THE cause of course as I fully believe their were many causes. Even to the point of it being a continuation of the English civil war in many respects (Southern cavalier versus northern roundhead)
     
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