Tariff and Reciprocity
Has the Republican party a new platform?
There have been frequent and significant references in the press
to the “Buffalo platform,” and Washington correspondents have stated
that the new chief magistrate has determined to adopt Mr. McKinley’s
last public speech and final message to the world as his guiding
chart. That speech, which created a veritable sensation, was in
reality an amplified exposition of the liberal principles which
had been guardedly expressed by the late president during his southwestern
tour in May. Democrats and Independents vied with the Republicans
in extolling that epoch-marking utterance. To some it seemed little
short of amazing that the author of the McKinley tariff act should
so emphatically and earnestly have proclaimed propositions which
the militant high protectionist characterized as free-trade heresies.
Beyond doubt Mr. McKinley had undergone
a radical change of view as regards the country’s trade policy.
He had formed the conclusion that the United States had outgrown
the protective system, and that many duties were no longer necessary
either for revenue or for industrial defense. He held that the question
of extending our foreign markets and finding an outlet for our surplus
products was the most pressing of all that confronted the
nation. In the Buffalo address the terms, the words used, were almost
as thought-provoking as the ideas put forth. “The period of exclusiveness
is past,” said Mr. McKinley; “commercial wars are unprofitable;”
only “a policy of good will and friendly trade relations will prevent
reprisals.” The figures of our export trade were characterized as
“appalling” and Americans were warned against reposing in fancied
security and imagining that the balances would continue to grow,
that Europe would continue to buy without selling approximately
equal amounts, and that the United States could defy the world.
This was the argumentative defense of reciprocity,
and, undeniably, had Mr. McKinley lived, he would have exerted his
powerful influence to secure the ratification of the treaties now
before the senate. He would have encountered determined opposition,
but not a few of the conservative Republican senators have become
converted to reciprocity. Messrs. Hanna and Cullom are notable representatives
of this group.
President Roosevelt will not have as free
a hand as his lamented predecessor had, and pressure from him may
be resented. Much will depend on the strength of the reciprocity
movement among the manufacturers, who are to hold a special convention
for the purpose of urging and agitating the policy of concession,
“give and take,” and lower 
duties. Mr. Roosevelt will be conservative and moderate, but the
great economic question cannot be ignored or slurred over.