Opening America's Market: U. S. Foreign Trade Policy since 1776

By Alfred E. Eckes Jr. | Go to book overview

Abandonment of the protective policy by the American Government must result in the increase of both useless labour, and idleness; and so, in pro[por]tion, must produce want and ruin among our people. -- Representative Abraham Lincoln, 1847

We renew and emphasize our allegiance to the policy of protection, as the bulwark of American industrial independence, and the foundation of American development and prosperity. -- Republican Platform, 1896


2
Protection and Prosperity?

Is protectionism the enemy of prosperity or a necessary condition for preserving jobs and maintaining the American standard of living? In the late twentieth century most U.S. economists, opinion shapers, and public officials would probably argue that "prosperity and protection are inconsistent." The establishment identifies free trade with dynamic economic growth and expanding job opportunities.1

In the late nineteenth century many American leaders held the opposite view. They associated free trade with "ruin" and protection with prosperity. This interpretation reflected both an enduring faith in the American system and a long record of economic achievement behind high tariff barriers. From 1871 to 1913 the average U.S. tariff on dutiable imports never fell below 38 percent. Gross national product (GNP) grew 4.3 percent annually, twice the pace in free trade Britain and well above the U.S. average in the twentieth century.

This chapter reconsiders the golden era of American protectionism, that period between the Civil War and the Great Depression when partisans battled over trade issues with a religious fervor. It revisits the fascinating tariff debates,

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Opening America's Market: U. S. Foreign Trade Policy since 1776
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Tables vii
  • Illustrations ix
  • Introduction xi
  • 1 - Free Trade and Economic Security, 1776-1860 1
  • 2 - Protection and Prosperity? 28
  • 3 - Unreciprocal Trade 59
  • 4 - Infamous Smoot-Hawley 100
  • 5 - Cordell Hull's Tariff Revolution 140
  • 6 - Opening America's Market, 1960-1974 178
  • 7 - Illusive Safeguards 219
  • 8 - Curbing Executive Discretion in Unfair Trade Cases 257
  • Epilogue 278
  • Notes 291
  • Bibliography 349
  • Index 383
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