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Source: Commoner
Source type: newspaper
Document type: editorial
Document title: “High Tariff Doomed”
Author(s): anonymous
City of publication: Lincoln, Nebraska
Date of publication: 27 September 1901
Volume number: 1
Issue number: 36
Pagination: 1

“High Tariff Doomed.” Commoner 27 Sept. 1901 v1n36: p. 1.
full text
William McKinley (last public address: personal response); United States (trade policy); William McKinley (public statements).
Named persons
William McKinley.


High Tariff Doomed

     In his speech at Buffalo, the last speech that he made, President McKinley sounded the death-knell of a high tariff. He said:

     “We have a vast and intricate business, built up through years of toil and struggle, in which every part of the country has its stake, which will not permit of either neglect or of undue selfishness. No narrow, sordid policy will subserve it. The greatest skill and wisdom on the part of the manufacturers and producers will be required to hold and increase it. Our industrial enterprises, which have grown to such great proportions, affect the homes and occupations of the people and the welfare of the country. Our capacity to produce has developed so enormously and our products have so multiplied that the problem of more markets requires our urgent and immediate attention. Only a broad and enlightened policy will keep what we have. No other policy will get more. In these times of marvelous business energy and gain we ought to be looking to the future, strengthening the weak places in our industrial and commercial systems, that we may be ready for any storm or strain.
     “By sensible trade arrangements which will not interrupt our home production we shall extend the outlets for our increasing surplus. A system which provides a mutual exchange of commodities is manifestly essential to the continued, healthful growth of our export trade. We must not repose in fancied security that we can forever sell everything and buy little or nothing. If such a thing were possible it would not be best for us or for those with whom we deal. We should take from our customers such of their products as we can use without harm to our industries and labor. Reciprocity is the natural outgrowth of our wonderful industrial development under the domestic policy now firmly established. What we produce beyond our domestic consumption must have a vent abroad. The excess must be relieved through a foreign outlet, and we should sell everywhere we can and buy wherever the buying will enlarge our sales and productions, and thereby make a greater demand for home labor.
     “The period of exclusiveness is past. The expansion of our trade and commerce is the pressing problem. Commercial wars are unprofitable. A policy of good will and friendly trade relations will prevent reprisals. Reciprocity treaties are in harmony with the spirit of the times; measures of retaliation are not.”

     “The period of exclusiveness is past.” That means that our country must enter the markets of the world, and when it does so it will be absurd to talk about needing protection from foreigners. When we sell abroad, the freight must be added to the price—we must sell at the foreign price, less the freight. In other words, we have the advantage of double freight when we sell at home. When it is admitted that we can pay the freight and compete with foreigners, no one will have the audacity to ask for a high tariff to protect domestic manufacturers against foreign competition.
     Mr. McKinley’s statement that we cannot sell everything and buy nothing is an axiom, but it will shock the high tariff advocates who have gone on the theory that we ought to sell to everybody and buy of nobody. But the President’s speech suggests one melancholy thought. Tariff reform is about the only thing the reorganizers favor that is Democratic and it would be really cruel if the republicans should abandon protection and leave the reorganizers no issue at all.



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