View single post by ole
 Posted: Tue Jan 8th, 2008 03:26 am
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Joined: Sun Oct 22nd, 2006
Posts: 2031

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Tariffs serving as a protection for fledgling industry were acknowledged during the Constitutional Convention. Protectionism took a stronger hold in 1816 when the Britich openly favored "dumping" to dampen, if not shut down, US manufacturing. The Tariff of Abominations which some of us are beating severly, was packed with onerous duties inserted by southern reps and senators in hopes that it would prove too distasteful to pass. It passed. The Tariff of 1832 was an attempt to back off from that bill, but this time Calhoun opposed it. (He had been in favor of the protectionist tariffs of 1816.)

From that point on, tariff rates generally were on a downward drift until the government was nearly bankrupted during the Buchanan Presidency. The antebellum Morrill tariff (as opposed to the one passed during the war), although a bit higher than the 1857 Tariff, was not greater than the one that preceded the 1857 Tariff.

I can understand that the planters didn't appreciate paying duties on their cigars and wine, and did not appreciate that the northern mills and foundries were being encouraged to grow and provide jobs. After all, they didn't have an industrial base to benefit from protection. And they didn't care about jobs or infrastructure.

Did I read somewhere back there that cotton prices had been depressed? What might have been the reason for that? A few bumper years? We tend to ignore that the price of cotton was not entirely set in England. It was set by demand and supply, and Charleston had a voice in setting that market price. Cotton sold for what it could get, not because of duties on certain imports. Southern cotton sold for about the same price as Egyptian, or Indian or South American cotton.

The cotton producers of the south resented the piece of their action taken out by financiers, agents, factors, insurers, shippers and such. But they made no move to develop their own financiers, agents, factors, insurers, shippers and such. Those were not the business of gentlemen. They just bought more land and more slaves and complained about the cost of doing business --  crowding the little guy into hills and hollows and river bottoms unsuitable for their type of agriculture. Meanwhile, there were precious few rails built to spread industry into the hinterlands -- only to provide transport of cotton bales to a river where the bales could be barged out.

Blaming that short-sightedness on oppressive tariffs is hocus-pocus. The die had been cast, and it wasn't tariffs, protective or otherwise, that cast it.


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