Source type: magazine
Document type: editorial
Document title: “Tariff and Reciprocity”
Date of publication: November 1901
Volume number: 34
Issue number: 2
|“Tariff and Reciprocity.” Chautauquan Nov. 1901 v34n2: pp. 118-19.|
|United States (trade policy: reciprocity); William McKinley (last public address).|
|Shelby M. Cullom; Marcus Hanna; William McKinley; Theodore Roosevelt.|
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.