Tariff Policy, - Chapel Hill, It should be noted that, while subscribing to the revisionist narrative of bipartisan imperial expansion during this period, Tom Terrill and Ed Crapol do emphasize instead an economic nationalist drive to empire.
Diane B. Gardner and Thomas J. Ernest R. The historiographical influence of revisionist imperial scholarship stems in no small part from its provocative narrative of bipartisan American empire building. Open-door imperial histories explicitly minimize politico-ideological conflict between and within the Democratic and Republican parties over the question of American imperial expansion.
Consequently, American free traders—previously. Want to read all 29 pages? Would it not be truer to say, then, that rather than winning the political-ideological debate, Listians simply won the political power that allowed them to transform their rhetoric into reality, making the debate itself, practically speaking, irrelevant? My second observation, which reflects my own interest in the antebellum era, concerns the origins of Cobdenism in the United States.
By dating this development to the s, however, and making Cobden its transatlantic idol, Palen disregards a homegrown mercantile free-trade constituency that had taken root in Northeastern cities like New York and Philadelphia, as well as much of New England, at least as early as the Revolution. John C. Calhoun was a Southerner, and certainly no abolitionist nor, incidentally, a devotee of Jefferson , but he admired Cobden, sent him copies of his free-trade speeches, and enthused about the possibility of an American delegation attending the international Free Trade Congress in Brussels in The slave-owners say they want Free Trade.
It is beyond dispute that the American Free Trade League and its Gilded Age auxiliaries were dominated by Northerners from an antislavery background, but then how many proslavery Southerners would you expect to find in any area of national public life following the Civil War? When I started as a graduate student, a senior member of the profession told me that the only thing worth studying in the nineteenth century was the Civil War.
In this sweeping study of the transatlantic contest over free trade and protectionist ideas Palen takes in the rich associational life of anti-slavery activists; the antebellum peace movement; the diplomacy of the Confederacy; the shifting ideological outlook of the Republican Party; transatlantic communications; the retooling of antislavery rhetoric in the service of both free trade and protectionist politics in the s; the redirection of abolitionist energies after the Civil War; imperial federation; and, most importantly, the way in which historians write about American empire.
Chapter One introduces Cobden and List and explores the percolation of their ideas in the s and s. Chapter Six asks the provocative and, for British and Irish readers, timely question as to whether one place can belong to two unions at the same time, as it focuses on Canadian and U. Chapters Seven and Eight examine the formulation, passage and impact of the McKinley tariff. Chapter Nine rounds out the book as the contest over free trade was eclipsed by that over the gold standard, with the Cobden Club going as far as to admit its relief at the election of the protectionist McKinley over his pro-free-trade opponent, William Jennings Bryan Palen is similarly critical of the fuzziness that accompanies that elision, which leads historians to emphasise consensus over contest.
Arthur, Benjamin Harrison, and William McKinley that revisionist historians like William Appleman Williams argue for in their histories of late nineteenth century imperialism. Here, Palen offers a useful genealogy of the concept, noting the intraparty battles and the intellectual debates from which it emerged. One of the effects of more sharply delineating the Democratic and Republican parties—and the debates within them—is to heighten the importance of contingency in the development of American imperial practice.
Put another way, Palen gives us a clear account of Listian economic thought and the way in which Republican policymakers conceptualised it through the late nineteenth century, but translating those ideas into practice was a messy, uncertain process, relying on shifting coalitions and domestic electoral success.
It is to his credit that, despite this wide range, the book never feels superficial. Nevertheless, because of its wide range it necessarily raises big questions. Palen is convincing in pointing to the tariff as an understudied topic with important resonance in multiple fields of nineteenth-century history, and his thoughtful resuscitation of the history of political economy is welcome. What did those who were subjects of American economic policy in the rest of the Americas make of this ongoing contest over Listian and Cobdenite ideas, and did they make efforts to cultivate particular intellectual and political relationships with this debate in mind?
Was there a Cobden Club in Buenos Aires? Or Mexico City? In addition, I wondered about the links with contemporary debates over protectionism and the limits of globalization. In this alternative reading, capitalists, fearing diminishing returns in the face of constrained markets and labour militancy, turned to state power in order to prise open new markets and neuter worker unrest. Rather than the cosmopolitanism of free traders being the central story, perhaps we should focus on the connection, imperfect as it might be, of capital and state power—not to restate the arguments of William Appleman Williams and other New Left scholars that Palen so effectively critiques, but to better appreciate the relationships that shape our political economy.
Tariff Matters: U.
Tariffs did matter. Marc-William Palen shows as much in this challenging and persuasive book on trade politics in the British and American world of the nineteenth century. For a generation, historians of the United States regarded the tariff as a deadly dull issue that reflected parish-pump politics and the principle that all politics is local. This highly politicized question certainly produced long and complicated tariff schedules, and the debates in Congress over tariff bills took up many pages of the Congressional Record while filling the Senate and House of Representatives with a great deal of hot air.
Though principles were invoked, historians suspected that bare-faced, special interests prevailed in a nineteenth-century parceling up of the pork barrel. The impact of posts globalization is detectable in this revived concern, which has also led American historians to put the tariff question in a more comparative and international history frame. Modern economists have told us that tariffs are not only inefficient, but also ineffective, and, at most, minor contributors to economic growth.
He ably sketches the shifts in the coalitions supporting or opposing free trade and takes the arguments of advocates with admirable seriousness to convey the context of the debates. Despite modern economic theory, tariffs did add value to particular industries and regions, and they had international ramifications.
Palen shows the impact of stiffening U. Tariffs were used as a weapon in the struggle for imperial domination of the new, globalizing economy, a conflict with political ramifications. Republicans hoping to attract western states in the election contributed to tariffs that, for example in the case of those on wool, damaged the sheep industry in other countries, notably Australia According to Palen, the push for imperial federation and empire tariff reciprocity grew from such economic impacts.
Moreover, the decision to create all-red imperial shipping and cable routes received impetus from the perceived need to guard against growing American economic and political power enhanced by Republican Party tariff maneuvers. Yet there were also strategic aims in such telegraphic and transportation infrastructure. The Spanish-American War revealed the difficulties of communicating quickly to faraway fleets and spurred the decision to create an all-American cable route, at approximately the same time as the British cable across the Pacific to British Columbia was laid.
Geopolitics thrived in the high tariff environment, and vice versa. To state the obvious, while the power of the U. Other authors have noted the influence of List but Palen goes further in elaborating on the influence of their ideas as a system of thought, not simply a particular economic interest.
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American Listians aimed at the hoarding of national wealth and promotion of economic growth in which the state used high tariffs as weapons to lever open foreign markets. Palen shows that it would be wrong to see these arrangements as simply concerned with freer trade. They aimed at promoting American exports while making sure that tariffs encouraged the kinds of imports that supplemented rather than competed with American industry, thus making the American nation and proto-empire stronger.
This is the most important argument in the book because it enables Palen to make a severe dent in the Open-Door thesis as an underlying explanation for U. He demonstrates the importance of economic nationalism and the use of tariff and reciprocity treaty policy in the shaping of a distinctive American empire based on a strong home market and exports that were disruptive for the world economy through punitive reciprocity provisions for imports, where American access abroad was denied or inhibited.
At the same time, Palen is able to portray the advocates of free trade as self-conscious, internationally oriented Cobdenites. The relationship between Anglophobia and the combatants in the trade politics of the United States was evidently a complex and shifting one, though, since acquiring overseas colonies brought American Listians to a greater appreciation of Anglo-Saxonism in the s.
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These ranged from the proposed annexation of Santo Domingo in the early s to the establishment of formal colonies and protectorates in the Pacific and Caribbean in Advocates of free trade, such as prominent businessman Edward Atkinson, were adamant that the United States should not engage in territorial acquisitions abroad. He argued that free trade would prevent wars and also provide the United States with enhanced foreign markets for manufacturing.
Imperialism ought not to be considered purely in terms of wars and territorial acquisition, to be sure. The American empire possessed these characteristic aspects of formal empire in the colonial moment of , but moved the balance by towards indirect financial controls as the preferred option. It is not clear that American Cobdenites, at least those in Congress, would have opposed such moves in the way they did formal sovereignty.
Some turn of the twentieth-century anti-imperialists drew a distinction on this point, as the Democratic Party platform of showed. It opposed U. Though not discussed in this book because it goes beyond the chronological limits and topical conceptualization, the American conservationist movement seems quite Listian in its promotion of reciprocity in the Payne-Aldrich Tariff of The Taft and Theodore Roosevelt administrations both tried to bend the tariff to accommodate a rational natural resource program for American benefit.
Simultaneously the chief architect of American conservation policy from to , Gifford Pinchot, sought to reconcile importing foreign lumber with the promotion of international conservation in forestry. This would require a degree of international regulation of resource use potentially at odds with both Cobdenites and Listians. This policy change is little studied, but would seem to invite historians to consider tariffs and resource policy together. In this perspective, a Cobdenite philosophy seems an important inheritance, as Palen points out, but not the only one. The expansion of the global economy and the freeing of trade, especially since the s, has not been accompanied by a reduction in political intervention in the economic realm to benefit particular nationalist economies so much as the displacement of rivalry from tariffs to currency.
Thank you to Tom Maddux for organizing this roundtable, to Jay Sexton for contributing the roundtable introduction, and to Ian Tyrrell, Daniel Peart, Alfred Eckes, and David Sim for their thoughtful engagement with my book. The conflict between free trade and protectionism dominated the late-nineteenth-century American political arena like no other. And the stakes were high — the future of American economic globalization and empire-building rested upon the outcome.
But it was not free trade and laissez faire that prevailed in Gilded Age America, despite this all-too-common Open Door portrayal. Rather, as a result of this conflict, the American imperial search for new markets was undertaken under the auspices of Republican economic nationalism. This cautionary note is all the more timely as I am currently exploring this very subject in my new book project on the twentieth-century peace movement. I begin my narrative with the arrival of Cobdenism upon American shores in the late s and early s, and its impact upon American westward expansion and party politics in the years leading up to the Civil War.
Where we differ is on the degree to which we ascribe power to ideas within politics and policymaking. And so I readily plead guilty to the charge that the role of ideas upstages those of institutions and interests in my narrative. Peart also raises interesting questions regarding the complicated relationship between antislavery and free trade within the antebellum Cobdenite movement, questions that tie into longstanding debates over the relationship between nineteenth-century capitalism, moral economy, antislavery, and imperialism that my book engages with, and that I have explored in greater detail elsewhere.
His suggestions for inclusion or elaboration doubtless would have strengthened the book. Regarding his points about earlier theories of free trade, as I state at the outset of the book, I made a conscious decision to keep the focus upon the economic ideas of the mid to late nineteenth century, although free-trade forerunners like Adam Smith and Jean-Baptiste Say or protectionists like Alexander Hamilton and Jean-Baptiste Colbert do make the occasional appearance, and I have explored the theories of Adam Smith and his influence upon Richard Cobden and the British Empire at length elsewhere.
As to the Economist , its absence is easily explained. Its archives were indeed extensively explored, and appeared throughout the dissertation upon which this book is based. I will be the first to admit that tracing the history of ideas can often be a tricky business. I therefore took great care at the outset in providing boundaries and definitions as precisely as possible.click here
Their numbers included not only news editors, journalists, businessmen, and academics, but also U. Many thanks again to the H-Diplo editors and to the roundtable contributors; I look forward to continuing the discussion and the debate. International Trade Commission. ZS accessed 12 September Calhoun , ed.
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