Between these two lines of policy every voter will soon be compelled to choose, and by making this choice a great change in the relative influence and importance of one party or the other will be brought about unless we can separate this question from party politics.
In order that this choice in each man's method of action may be rightly made, it now becomes expedient to treat the method of tariff reform simply as a business question and not as a party question. Parties which were thrown out of all true relation to the future by the issues of the past ought to be reorganized so as to carry into effect the conclusions to which voters have been brought by their convictions of right on the issues of the future. When they are renovated in this manner one may expect a great many men who are now holding prominent positions to be relegated to private life. Their places will be taken by men who are competent to apply reason, judgment, and common sense in their methods of fiscal legislation, a faculty or capacity which has been denied to many of those whom the circumstances of the past have thrown up into positions of considerable prominence which they have continued to hold up to the present time, but for which they are incapable.
When dealing with the tariff question in this way it is probable that every intelligent man who is conversant with affairs and who has given any attention to the reform of the tariff will agree wholly or very nearly with the following statement:
1. The present tariff is confused and inconsistent with itself in many of its provisions.
2. Some of its provisions which were especially intended to promote specific domestic manufactures have been either so erroneously framed or so construed in the Treasury Department as to discriminate against the very branches of. industry which they were intended to promote.
3. These badly framed or badly administered provisions of the tariff acts promote undervaluation, evasions of duty, and fraud; but their worst effect is to discourage honest manufacturers and merchants alike by the uncertainty which they cause as to the future course of trade, as well as by the opportunities which they give both to dishonest employers, importers, and unscrupulous manufacturers to evade the laws.
I may venture to relate a little story of how tariffs are made and unmade. It is one of many incidents which made me a free-trader in principle.
I found an apparent inequality in the tariff act many years since, adversely affecting a branch of industry in which I had invested a few thousand dollars. I framed an amendment and sent it to a prominent Congressman from Massachusetts, who was on