Patrick Buchanan makes the historical case for tariffs. From Buchanan at buchanan.org:
“Make America Great Again!” will, given the astonishing victory it produced for Donald Trump, be recorded among the most successful slogans in political history.
Yet it raises a question: How did America first become the world’s greatest economic power?
In 1998, in “The Great Betrayal: How American Sovereignty and Social Justice Are Being Sacrificed to the Gods of the Global Economy,” this writer sought to explain.
However, as the blazing issue of that day was Monica Lewinsky and Bill Clinton, it was no easy task to steer interviewers around to the McKinley Tariff.
Free trade propaganda aside, what is the historical truth?
As our Revolution was about political independence, the first words and acts of our constitutional republic were about ensuring America’s economic independence.
“A free people should promote such manufactures as tend to render them independent on others for essentials, especially military supplies,” said President Washington in his first message to Congress.
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The first major bill passed by Congress was the Tariff Act of 1789.
Weeks later, Washington imposed tonnage taxes all foreign shipping. The U.S. Merchant Marine was born.
In 1791, Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton wrote in his famous Report on Manufactures:
“The wealth … independence, and security of a Country, appear to be materially connected with the prosperity of manufactures. Every nation … ought to endeavor to possess within itself all the essentials of national supply. These compromise the means of subsistence, habitation, clothing, and defence.”
During the War of 1812, British merchants lost their American markets. When peace came, flotillas of British ships arrived at U.S. ports to dump underpriced goods and to recapture the markets the Brits had lost.
Henry Clay and John Calhoun backed James Madison’s Tariff of 1816, as did ex-free traders Jefferson and John Adams. It worked.
In 1816, the U.S. produced 840 thousand yards of cloth. By 1820, it was 13,874 thousand yards. America had become self-sufficient.
To continue reading: Did Tariffs Make America Great?