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   Chapter 133 1824). No.133

Formation of the Union By Albert Bushnell Hart Characters: 1932

Updated: 2017-12-06 00:02


[Sidenote: Effect of the tariff.]

An evidence of political uneasiness was the Tariff Act of May 22, 1824. The tariff of 1816 had not brought about the good that was expected of it: importations of foreign goods were indeed cut down from $129,000,000 in 1816 to $50,000,000 in 1823; but the balance of trade was still rather against the United States, and in 1819 there was a financial crisis. In 1820 an act to raise the duties passed the House, but was lost in the Senate by a single vote. Manufactures had been growing, although profits were not large, and public sentiment was beginning to change in New England. The Western vote was now larger than eight years earlier, and was in favor of protection. Exports of agricultural products had fallen off, and the agricultural States hoped to find a better market among the manufacturers.

[Sidenote: Act of 1824.]

It was a favorable time for a tariff act, inasmuch as the friends of none of the Presidential

candidates were willing to commit themselves against it. Clay came forward as the champion of the protective system: "The object of this bill," said he, "is to create thus a home market, and to lay the foundation of a genuine American policy." The South now strongly and almost unanimously opposed the tariff; even Webster spoke against it, declaring "freedom of trade to be the general principle, and restriction the exception." A combination of the Middle and Western States with a part of New England furnished the necessary majority. The tariff increased the duties on metals like iron and lead, and on agricultural products like wool and hemp, but gave little additional protection to woollen and cotton goods. As the bill approached its passage, John Randolph violently protested: "There never was a constitution under the sun in which by an unwise exercise of the powers of the government the people may not be driven to the extremity of resistance by force."

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