Source type: newspaper
Document type: editorial
Document title: “President McKinley”
City of publication: London, England
Date of publication: 14 September 1901
Volume number: 48
Issue number: 1229
|“President McKinley.” Statist 14 Sept. 1901 v48n1229: pp. 477-78.|
|William McKinley (political character); U.S. trade policy (reciprocity).|
|Nelson Dingley, Jr.; Lyman J. Gage; Marcus Hanna; John Hay; William McKinley; Robert Peel.|
Of late there have been several indications that Mr. McKinley was about to reveal himself in a character not only entirely new, but a little while ago entirely undreamt of—to use a telling phrase that has already been used by some of his countrymen, “that he was about to become the Sir Robert Peel of the United States.” Mr. McKinley, as said above, made his first mark in politics by his introduction of the so-called McKinley Tariff. For very many years he was looked upon at home and abroad as the incarnation of Protectionism, and for a long time he was supposed to have very strong leanings towards the silver heresy. Only the day before the atrocious attempt upon his life the President delivered what appears to have been one of the most important speeches ever spoken by him. In it he declared for reciprocity in a manner never ventured upon by him before. It is quite true that the law of the United States already recognises reciprocity. Indeed, more than one reciprocity treaty has been negotiated. But the manner in which President McKinley adopted reciprocity as his peculiar policy on President’s Day at the Buffalo Exhibition makes the speech specially notable. After referring to the great prosperity the country enjoys at present, and to the extraordinary development of its productiveness in every direction, the President went on as follows: “A system which provides for the mutual exchange of commodities is manifestly essential. We must not repose in the fancied security that we can for ever sell everything and buy little or nothing. Reciprocity is the natural outgrowth of our wonderful industrial development. If perchance some of our tariffs are no longer needed for revenue or to protect our industries, why should they not be employed to extend our markets abroad?” That Protection has been losing ground for years has been evident to all careful observers of events in the United States. But a little while ago few would have ventured to predict that the reputed author of the McKinley Tariff would be among the very first of public men to recognise the fact, and would have given his adherence to the new view of public duty. Yet that is what the speech at Buffalo really means. He recognises that there has been a great change in American public opinion, not only since the tariff which bears his name was passed, but even since the later tariff that bears the name of Mr. Dingley. And with a statesman’s judgment he acknowledges that the change is justified by the new  condition of the country, and he offers to help in carrying out the new policy the country desires. That he may be spared to preside over the framing of a Bill for that purpose is the wish and hope of ever friend of the United States—nay more, of every right-minded man, to whatever country he may belong.
It need hardly be said here that, in the opinion of this Journal, the new policy is a wise one. Yet it may be objected that reciprocity will only help the United States to beat down barriers raised against its trade by other countries which have imitated its own economic legislation. Reciprocity can be pursued with regard to France, Germany, Russia, and so on. And even reciprocity treaties will help materially in promoting the trade between all these countries. But it may be argued that a reciprocity treaty is out of the question with ourselves, because we have already admitted all the world freely to our ports, and therefore have nothing to grant in return for concessions that we may desire from the United States. To this we would reply that what is known, or, at all events, believed, to be in the President’s mind is not merely the negotiation of reciprocity treaties—which, indeed, have had his care while he has been at the White House—but that he means to offer large concessions to all those who are willing to admit American goods on what appear to him and to Congress to be liberal terms. If that is the shape which the new legislation will take, it is obvious that our own country will share in the advantages. And, indeed, the very argument used by the President at Buffalo would be altogether out of place, and might easily even be directed against himself, if he were to refuse to the United Kingdom what he concedes to more Protectionist countries. For he advocates reciprocity on the very ground that America cannot always go on selling a great deal and buying little or nothing. She must buy a good deal if she is to sell immense quantities. And when everything is said, we are not merely her best customers, but practically we are better customers than all the rest of the world put together. For fully half the exports of the United States come to us. To extend very greatly her exports, then, it is essential that she should open her markets to our products likewise. And unless we entirely misread the President’s last great speech, that is exactly what he has in contemplation.