The United States and the Problem of Recovery after 1893

By Gerald T. White | Go to book overview

Chapter IV
The Tariff of 1894

The recovery program of the Cleveland administration stood clearly revealed in the repeal of the Sherman Silver Purchase Act. To Cleveland and to those who shared his views, the panic was psychological and stemmed from a fear of an unstable currency. To that analysis he held consistently and firmly; beyond it he did not go. By repeal he had sought to put an end to fear and to bring about recovery. In his annual message to Congress of December 4, 1893, Cleveland expressed faith that the ultimate result of repeal would be "most salutary and far reaching," although he conceded that "after the recent financial perturbation, time is necessary for the reestablishment of business confidence." 1

His message was devoted to a much greater extent to the more prosaic problem of converting into law the view of his party with respect to the tariff. It was a subject in which he was deeply interested. He had become convinced during his first administration as president that the protective tariff was in large measure both a special privilege for the protected interests and an unjust tax upon the mass of American citizens. His spectacular message of December 1887 had paved the way for a campaign in 1888 upon the issue of tariff revision downward. Barely defeated in that year, he had based his campaign on the same issue in 1892 and won.

There is little evidence that Cleveland attached great recovery significance to tariff revision. It was a problem upon which he thought in terms of the long-continuing argument between low- and high-tariff principles. He would have acted in the same manner in December 1893 had prosperity followed the advent of his administration. Among his arguments was indeed one related to the times: many American industries had outgrown the home market, and a world market was necessary for their profitable operation. Effective American competition in the world market could best be achieved, according to this argument, if American manufacturers could reduce their costs by gaining access to duty-free raw materials. As a result,

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The United States and the Problem of Recovery after 1893
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • Chapter I the Panic of 1893 1
  • Chapter II a First Answer of Government 8
  • Chapter III the Problem of Belief and the Unemployed 21
  • Chapter IV the Tariff of 1894 33
  • Chapter V the Bond Issues 41
  • Chapter VI a Second Answer of Government 56
  • Chapter VII Agriculture and Recovery 71
  • Chapter VIII Exports of Manufactures and Recovery 82
  • Chapter IX Recovery in 1898 91
  • Chapter X - An Overview and a "Legacy" 102
  • Notes 117
  • Bibliography 145
  • Index 157
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