The United States Establishes a Permanent Tariff Commission (Great Events from History II: Business and Commerce Series)
Article abstract: Seeking to restructure and reform America’s tariffs along “scientific” lines, the administration of President Woodrow Wilson created the Federal Tariff Commission.
Summary of Event
Establishment of the independent Federal Tariff Commission in 1916 represented a turning point in reformers’ half-century struggle against the politics of protectionism. Tariffs are schedules of duties levied by government fiat upon imports, and sometimes on exports. Since 1789 and the levying of the first such American duties, tariffs had been the subject of debate and often of passionate controversy. Debates concerned the levels of tariffs and their uses, such as promoting free trade; protecting and subsidizing “infant industries” (those in the process of development and therefore unable to compete in international markets), sectional interests, and politically powerful farmers and manufacturers; providing a source of federal revenues; and acting as weapons of trade policy and foreign policy. Such questions have surrounded the tariff issue in many local elections and in nearly every presidential campaign from the founding of the United States into the 1990’s. In pre-Civil War years, while Southern and Western agricultural interests held sway in Washington, the tendency of the Democratic administrations representing them to maintain low tariffs became an article of faith. With the ascendance of Northern and...
(The entire section is 1965 words.)
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