What was the Smoot-Hawley Tarriff Act? 

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The Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act was a law passed by the United States Congress in 1930.  It raised tariffs on a variety of imports to levels that were higher than ever before.  (A tariff is a tax that is imposed on goods that are being imported into a country.)  This law was passed in response to the beginning of the Great Depression.

In October of 1929, the stock market crashed.  This crash did not cause the Great Depression, but it is seen as the beginning of that terrible economic slump.  When the crash happened, some government officials wanted very much for the government to do something to alleviate the economic problems.  The Smoot-Hawley Tariff was one thing that was done to try to improve economic conditions.

The people who voted for this bill believed that they would be protecting American jobs if they did so.  The new bill would raise taxes on imported goods.  This would make those goods more expensive and people would, therefore, start to buy more American goods.  This would boost the US economy.

Sadly, it did not work out this way.  Other countries imposed their own tariffs in response.  The resulting crash in world trade helped to worsen the Great Depression.

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