Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 37.djvu/471

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COMMON SENSE AND THE TARIFF QUESTION.

Past and Present. The best summary is to be found in the little book published in Chicago in 1884, by General M. M. Trumbull, entitled The American Lesson of the Free Trade Struggle in England. In this book will be found the whole record of the condition of England from 1838 to 1846, after the panic of 1836 which originated in this country and spread to Great Britain had spent its force, down to the culmination in 1846 of the measures which Peel instituted but which were substantially completed by Gladstone in 1853. This history ought to be read by every man who desires to make up his mind how to act in this country at the present time. The logic of events is the same. We are repeating history. We are suffering, so far as it is in the power of legislators to stop the progress of this country, from injudicious methods of obstruction; and we may make progress in agriculture and in manufactures by "great leaps and bounds," as Gladstone put it, whenever we choose to adopt the policy which will soon be brought into action, whether we will or no, by the logic-of necessity.

The basis of Peel's tariff reform in England was established by Joseph Hume, who, being appointed chairman of the committee in the House of Parliament, made a report on the tariff of Great Britain, which then covered about twelve hundred and fifty specific articles, at an average rate of about twenty-eight per cent on dutiable imports. In this report he first sorted imports, according to their use, under four heads:

Crude materials.
Partly manufactured materials.
Manufactured goods.
Articles of the nature of a luxury, like wines and tobacco.

It was a case of condition and not of theory which Sir Robert Peel was called upon to meet when he took office. He met that condition by discriminating in choosing the subjects of taxation in the tariff which he presented, placing in the free list all the little petty taxes or duties on which an agreement was readily made, and then either making free partly manufactured goods or greatly abating duties upon them, at the same time reducing the duties on finished products except those of the fourth class, viz., those of the nature of a luxury or voluntary use.

I had become so much impressed and influenced by the success of this method that, during the last few months of the administration of Secretary Hugh McCulloch, I suggested to him to class the imports of this country in a way corresponding to Hume's method. I gave him my reasons somewhat in this way, that in whatever manner, by whatever party, under whatever name the reform of our tariff should at a future day be taken up, it would of necessity be governed by the logic of the lines or classes on which these imports might then be sorted. The suggestion was