Morrill Tariff

Morrill Tariff

Overview
The Morrill Tariff of 1861 was a protective tariff
Tariff
A tariff may be either tax on imports or exports , or a list or schedule of prices for such things as rail service, bus routes, and electrical usage ....

 in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

, adopted on March 2, 1861 during the administration of President
President of the United States
The President of the United States of America is the head of state and head of government of the United States. The president leads the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces....

 James Buchanan
James Buchanan
James Buchanan, Jr. was the 15th President of the United States . He is the only president from Pennsylvania, the only president who remained a lifelong bachelor and the last to be born in the 18th century....

.

Named for its sponsor, Representative
United States House of Representatives
The United States House of Representatives is one of the two Houses of the United States Congress, the bicameral legislature which also includes the Senate.The composition and powers of the House are established in Article One of the Constitution...

 Justin Smith Morrill
Justin Smith Morrill
Justin Smith Morrill was a Representative and a Senator from Vermont, most widely remembered today for the Morrill Land-Grant Colleges Act that established federal funding for establishing many of the United States' public colleges and universities...

 of Vermont
Vermont
Vermont is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States of America. The state ranks 43rd in land area, , and 45th in total area. Its population according to the 2010 census, 630,337, is the second smallest in the country, larger only than Wyoming. It is the only New England...

, who drafted it with the advice of Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is a U.S. state that is located in the Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States. The state borders Delaware and Maryland to the south, West Virginia to the southwest, Ohio to the west, New York and Ontario, Canada, to the north, and New Jersey to...

 economist Henry Charles Carey
Henry Charles Carey
Henry Charles Carey , a leading 19th century economist of the American School of capitalism. He is now best known for the book The Harmony of Interests, to compare and contrast what he called the "British System" of laissez faire free trade capitalism with the "American System" of developmental...

, passage of the tariff was possible because many tariff-adverse Southerners
Southern United States
The Southern United States—commonly referred to as the American South, Dixie, or simply the South—constitutes a large distinctive area in the southeastern and south-central United States...

 had left Congress
United States Congress
The United States Congress is the bicameral legislature of the federal government of the United States, consisting of the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Congress meets in the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C....

 after their states
U.S. state
A U.S. state is any one of the 50 federated states of the United States of America that share sovereignty with the federal government. Because of this shared sovereignty, an American is a citizen both of the federal entity and of his or her state of domicile. Four states use the official title of...

 declared their secession
Secession in the United States
Secession in the United States can refer to secession of a state from the United States, secession of part of a state from that state to form a new state, or secession of an area from a city or county....

. The Morrill Tariff raised rates to protect and encourage industry and the high wages of industrial workers.
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Encyclopedia
The Morrill Tariff of 1861 was a protective tariff
Tariff
A tariff may be either tax on imports or exports , or a list or schedule of prices for such things as rail service, bus routes, and electrical usage ....

 in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

, adopted on March 2, 1861 during the administration of President
President of the United States
The President of the United States of America is the head of state and head of government of the United States. The president leads the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces....

 James Buchanan
James Buchanan
James Buchanan, Jr. was the 15th President of the United States . He is the only president from Pennsylvania, the only president who remained a lifelong bachelor and the last to be born in the 18th century....

.

Named for its sponsor, Representative
United States House of Representatives
The United States House of Representatives is one of the two Houses of the United States Congress, the bicameral legislature which also includes the Senate.The composition and powers of the House are established in Article One of the Constitution...

 Justin Smith Morrill
Justin Smith Morrill
Justin Smith Morrill was a Representative and a Senator from Vermont, most widely remembered today for the Morrill Land-Grant Colleges Act that established federal funding for establishing many of the United States' public colleges and universities...

 of Vermont
Vermont
Vermont is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States of America. The state ranks 43rd in land area, , and 45th in total area. Its population according to the 2010 census, 630,337, is the second smallest in the country, larger only than Wyoming. It is the only New England...

, who drafted it with the advice of Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is a U.S. state that is located in the Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States. The state borders Delaware and Maryland to the south, West Virginia to the southwest, Ohio to the west, New York and Ontario, Canada, to the north, and New Jersey to...

 economist Henry Charles Carey
Henry Charles Carey
Henry Charles Carey , a leading 19th century economist of the American School of capitalism. He is now best known for the book The Harmony of Interests, to compare and contrast what he called the "British System" of laissez faire free trade capitalism with the "American System" of developmental...

, passage of the tariff was possible because many tariff-adverse Southerners
Southern United States
The Southern United States—commonly referred to as the American South, Dixie, or simply the South—constitutes a large distinctive area in the southeastern and south-central United States...

 had left Congress
United States Congress
The United States Congress is the bicameral legislature of the federal government of the United States, consisting of the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Congress meets in the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C....

 after their states
U.S. state
A U.S. state is any one of the 50 federated states of the United States of America that share sovereignty with the federal government. Because of this shared sovereignty, an American is a citizen both of the federal entity and of his or her state of domicile. Four states use the official title of...

 declared their secession
Secession in the United States
Secession in the United States can refer to secession of a state from the United States, secession of part of a state from that state to form a new state, or secession of an area from a city or county....

. The Morrill Tariff raised rates to protect and encourage industry and the high wages of industrial workers. It replaced the low Tariff of 1857
Tariff of 1857
The Tariff of 1857 was a major tax reduction in the United States, creating a mid-century lowpoint for tariffs. It amended the Walker Tariff of 1846 by lowering rates to around 17% on average....

, which was written to benefit the South. Two additional tariffs sponsored by Morrill, each one higher, were passed during Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln was the 16th President of the United States, serving from March 1861 until his assassination in April 1865. He successfully led his country through a great constitutional, military and moral crisis – the American Civil War – preserving the Union, while ending slavery, and...

's administration to raise urgently needed revenue during the Civil War
American Civil War
The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...

.


The high rates of the Morrill tariff inaugurated a period of continuous trade protection
Protectionism
Protectionism is the economic policy of restraining trade between states through methods such as tariffs on imported goods, restrictive quotas, and a variety of other government regulations designed to allow "fair competition" between imports and goods and services produced domestically.This...

 in the United States, a policy that remained until the adoption of the Revenue Act of 1913
Revenue Act of 1913
The United States Revenue Act of 1913 also known as the Tariff Act, Underwood Tariff, Underwood Tariff Act, or Underwood-Simmons Act , re-imposed the federal income tax following the ratification of the Sixteenth Amendment and lowered basic tariff rates from 40% to 25%, well below the Payne-Aldrich...

 (the Underwood tariff). The schedule of the Morrill Tariff and its two successor bills were retained long after the end of the Civil War.

Origins


A high tariff to encourage the development of domestic industry had been advocated for many years, especially by the Whig Party
Whig Party (United States)
The Whig Party was a political party of the United States during the era of Jacksonian democracy. Considered integral to the Second Party System and operating from the early 1830s to the mid-1850s, the party was formed in opposition to the policies of President Andrew Jackson and his Democratic...

 and its long-time leader Henry Clay
Henry Clay
Henry Clay, Sr. , was a lawyer, politician and skilled orator who represented Kentucky separately in both the Senate and in the House of Representatives...

. They enacted such a tariff in 1842, but in 1846 the Democrats enacted the Walker Tariff
Walker tariff
The Walker Tariff was a set of tariff rates adopted by the United States in 1846. The Walker Tariff was enacted by the Democrats, and made substantial cuts in the high rates of the "Black Tariff" of 1842, enacted by the Whigs. It was based on a report by Secretary of the Treasury Robert J. Walker...

, cutting tariff rates substantially. The Democrats cut rates even further in the Tariff of 1857
Tariff of 1857
The Tariff of 1857 was a major tax reduction in the United States, creating a mid-century lowpoint for tariffs. It amended the Walker Tariff of 1846 by lowering rates to around 17% on average....

, which was highly favorable to the South.

Meanwhile, the Whig Party broke up, and this element of the Whig program was taken up by the new Republican Party. Some former Whigs from the Border States and upper South remained in Congress as "Opposition", "Unionist", or "American" (Know Nothing
Know Nothing
The Know Nothing was a movement by the nativist American political faction of the 1840s and 1850s. It was empowered by popular fears that the country was being overwhelmed by German and Irish Catholic immigrants, who were often regarded as hostile to Anglo-Saxon Protestant values and controlled by...

) members; they also supported higher tariffs.

The Panic of 1857
Panic of 1857
The Panic of 1857 was a financial panic in the United States caused by the declining international economy and over-expansion of the domestic economy. Indeed, because of the interconnectedness of the world economy by the time of the 1850s, the financial crisis which began in the autumn of 1857 was...

 led to calls for protectionist tariff revision. Well-known economist Henry C. Carey blamed the Panic on the Tariff of 1857. His opinion was widely circulated in the high tariff (or "protectionist") media.

Efforts to revise the tariff schedules upward began in earnest in the 35th Congress
35th United States Congress
The 35th United States Congress was a meeting of the legislative branch of the United States federal government, consisting of the United States Senate and the United States House of Representatives. It met in Washington, D.C. from March 4, 1857 to March 3, 1859, during the first two years of James...

 of 1857–1859. Two proposals were submitted in the House
United States House of Representatives
The United States House of Representatives is one of the two Houses of the United States Congress, the bicameral legislature which also includes the Senate.The composition and powers of the House are established in Article One of the Constitution...

. House Ways and Means Committee
United States House Committee on Ways and Means
The Committee of Ways and Means is the chief tax-writing committee of the United States House of Representatives. Members of the Ways and Means Committee are not allowed to serve on any other House Committees unless they apply for a waiver from their party's congressional leadership...

 chairman John S. Phelps
John S. Phelps
John Smith Phelps was a politician, soldier during the American Civil War, and the 23rd Governor of Missouri.-Early life and career:...

 (D-Missouri
Missouri
Missouri is a US state located in the Midwestern United States, bordered by Iowa, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska. With a 2010 population of 5,988,927, Missouri is the 18th most populous state in the nation and the fifth most populous in the Midwest. It...

 wrote the Democrats' plan, which retained most of the low rates of the 1857 Tariff, with minor revisions to stimulate revenue.

Minority Ways and Means members Morrill and Henry Winter Davis
Henry Winter Davis
Henry Winter Davis was a United States Representative from the 4th and 3rd congressional districts of Maryland, well known as one of the Radical Republicans during the Civil War.-Early life and career:...

 (a Maryland
Maryland
Maryland is a U.S. state located in the Mid Atlantic region of the United States, bordering Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia to its south and west; Pennsylvania to its north; and Delaware to its east...

 "American") produced the Republican proposal, an upward revision of the tariff schedule. It replaced the existing ad valorem tariff schedule with specific duties and drastically increased tariff rates on goods produced by popular "protected" industries, such as iron, textiles, and other manufactured goods. Economic historian Frank Taussig argued that in many cases, the substitution of specific duties was used to disguise the extent of the rate increases. Supporters of the specific rates argued that they were necessary, though, because European exporters were routinely providing their American customers with phony invoices showing lower prices for goods than were actually paid. Specific rates made such subterfuge pointless.

However, the House took no action on either tariff bill during the 35th Congress.

House actions


When the 36th Congress
36th United States Congress
The Thirty-sixth United States Congress was a meeting of the legislative branch of the United States federal government, consisting of the United States Senate and the United States House of Representatives. It met in Washington, D.C. from March 4, 1859 to March 4, 1861, during the third and fourth...

 met in 1859, action remained blocked by a wrangle over the Speaker of the House
Speaker of the United States House of Representatives
The Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, or Speaker of the House, is the presiding officer of the United States House of Representatives...

 until 1860, when Republican William Pennington
William Pennington
William Pennington was an American politician and lawyer, the Governor of New Jersey, and Speaker of the House during his one term in Congress....

 of New Jersey
New Jersey
New Jersey is a state in the Northeastern and Middle Atlantic regions of the United States. , its population was 8,791,894. It is bordered on the north and east by the state of New York, on the southeast and south by the Atlantic Ocean, on the west by Pennsylvania and on the southwest by Delaware...

 was elected. A pro-tariff Republican majority was appointed to Ways and Means, and John Sherman
John Sherman (politician)
John Sherman, nicknamed "The Ohio Icicle" , was a U.S. Representative and U.S. Senator from Ohio during the Civil War and into the late nineteenth century. He served as both Secretary of the Treasury and Secretary of State and was the principal author of the Sherman Antitrust Act...

 of Ohio
Ohio
Ohio is a Midwestern state in the United States. The 34th largest state by area in the U.S.,it is the 7th‑most populous with over 11.5 million residents, containing several major American cities and seven metropolitan areas with populations of 500,000 or more.The state's capital is Columbus...

 became chairman.

The Morrill bill was passed out of committee and brought up for a floor vote near the end of first session of the Congress (December 1859 – June 1860).

The vote was on May 10, 1860; the bill passed by a vote of 105 to 64.

The vote was largely but not entirely sectional. Republicans, all from the northern states, voted 89–2 for the bill. They were joined by 7 northern Democrats from New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. Five of these were "anti-Lecompton Democrats" (dissident Democrats who opposed the pro-slavery Lecompton constitution
Lecompton Constitution
The Lecompton Constitution was the second of four proposed constitutions for the state of Kansas . The document was written in response to the anti-slavery position of the 1855 Topeka Constitution of James H. Lane and other free-state advocates...

 for Kansas
Kansas
Kansas is a US state located in the Midwestern United States. It is named after the Kansas River which flows through it, which in turn was named after the Kansa Native American tribe, which inhabited the area. The tribe's name is often said to mean "people of the wind" or "people of the south...

).

14 northern Democrats voted against the bill.

In the Border States, 4 "Opposition" Representatives from Kentucky voted for it, as did its co-sponsor Winter of Maryland, a Maryland "Unionist", and a Democrat from Delaware. 8 Border state Democrats and an "American" from Missouri
Missouri
Missouri is a US state located in the Midwestern United States, bordered by Iowa, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska. With a 2010 population of 5,988,927, Missouri is the 18th most populous state in the nation and the fifth most populous in the Midwest. It...

 voted no.

35 southern Democrats and 3 Oppositionists voted against it; one Oppositionist from Tennessee voted for it.

Thus the sectional breakdown was 96–15 in the north, 7–9 in the Border, and 1–39 in the south.

There were 55 abstentions, including 13 Republicans, 12 northern Democrats, 13 southern Democrats, and 8 southern "Oppositionists" and "Americans". (The remaining Representatives were mostly "paired" with opposing Representatives who could not be present.

Senate action


The Morrill bill was sent on to the Senate
United States Senate
The United States Senate is the upper house of the bicameral legislature of the United States, and together with the United States House of Representatives comprises the United States Congress. The composition and powers of the Senate are established in Article One of the U.S. Constitution. Each...

. However, the Senate was controlled by Democrats, and so the bill was bottled up in the Finance Committee, chaired by Robert M. T. Hunter of Virginia
Virginia
The Commonwealth of Virginia , is a U.S. state on the Atlantic Coast of the Southern United States. Virginia is nicknamed the "Old Dominion" and sometimes the "Mother of Presidents" after the eight U.S. presidents born there...

.

This insured that the Senate vote would be put off till the second session in December. It also meant that the tariff would be a prominent issue in the 1860 election.

1860 election


The Republican party included a strong pro-tariff plank in its 1860 platform. They also sent prominent tariff advocates such as Morrill and Sherman to campaign in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, where the tariff was popular, by touting the Morrill bill. They portrayed it as a continuation of the "American System
American System (economic plan)
The American System, originally called "The American Way", was a mercantilist economic plan that played a prominent role in American policy during the first half of the 19th century...

" advocated by Henry Clay.

Both Democratic candidates, John C. Breckenridge and Stephen Douglas, opposed the Morrill Tariff and protectionism in general.

Historian Reinhard H. Luthin documents the importance of the Morrill Tariff to the Republicans in the 1860 presidential election. Abraham Lincoln's record as a protectionist and support for the Morrill Tariff bill, he notes, helped him to secure support in the important electoral college states of Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Lincoln carried Pennsylvania handily in November, as part of his sweep of the North.

On February 14, 1861, President-elect Lincoln told an audience in Pittsburgh that he would make a new tariff his priority in the next session if the bill did not pass by inauguration day on March 4.

Renewed Senate action


The second session of the 36th Congress began in December 1860. At first it appeared that Hunter would keep the Morrill bill tabled until the end of the term in March.

However, in December 1860 and January 1861, seven southern states declared secession, and their low-tariff Senators withdrew. Republicans took control of the Senate in February, and Hunter lost his hold on the Finance Committee.

Meanwhile the Treasury was in financial crisis, with less than $500,000 on hand and millions in unpaid bills. The Union urgently needed new revenue. A recent historian concludes, "the impetus for revising the tariff arose as an attempt to augment revenue, stave off 'ruin,' and address the accumulating debt."

The Morrill bill was brought to the Senate floor for a vote on February 20, and passed 25 to 14. It was supported by 24 Republicans and Democrat William Bigler
William Bigler
William Bigler was the 12th Governor of Pennsylvania from 1852 to 1855, and later a U.S. Senator for the Democratic Party....

 of Pennsylvania, and opposed by seven southern Democrats, three from the Border, two from the north, and two from the far west. Five northern and three Border Democrats abstained, as did one Republican; the remaining four Senators were paired, as some had to be absent for personal reasons.

There were some minor amendments related to the tariffs on tea and coffee, which required a conference committee with the House, but these were resolved and the final bill was approved by unanimous consent on March 2.

Though a Democrat himself, outgoing President James Buchanan
James Buchanan
James Buchanan, Jr. was the 15th President of the United States . He is the only president from Pennsylvania, the only president who remained a lifelong bachelor and the last to be born in the 18th century....

 favored the bill because of the interests of his home state, Pennsylvania. He signed the bill into law as one of his last acts in office.

Adoption and amendments


The Morrill Tariff took effect one month after it was signed into law. Besides setting tariff rates, the bill altered and restricted the Warehousing Act
Warehousing Act
The Warehousing Act of 1846 was a commercial law that allowed merchants to warehouse their imports into the United States and thus delay tariff payments on those goods until a buyer was found...

 of 1846.

The Morrill Tariff was drafted and passed the House before the Civil War began or was even expected, and was passed by the Senate almost unchanged. Thus it should not be considered "Civil War" legislation.

In fact, the Tariff proved to be too low for the revenue needs of the Civil War, and was quickly supplanted by the Second Morrill Tariff, or Revenue Act of 1861, later that fall.

Impact


In its first year of operation, the Morrill Tariff increased the effective rate collected on dutiable imports by approximately 70%. In 1860 American tariff rates were among the lowest in the world and also at historical lows by 19th century standards, the average rate for 1857 through 1860 being around 17% overall (ad valorem], or 21% on dutiable items only. The Morrill Tariff immediately raised these averages to about 26% overall or 36% on dutiable items, and further increases by 1865 left the comparable rates at 38% and 48%. Although higher than in the immediate antebellum period, these rates were still significantly lower than between 1825 and 1830, when rates had sometimes been over 50%.

The United States needed $3 billion to pay for the immense armies and fleets raised to fight the Civil War — over $400 million just in 1862. The chief source of Federal revenue had been the tariff revenues. Therefore Secretary of the Treasury Salmon P. Chase
Salmon P. Chase
Salmon Portland Chase was an American politician and jurist who served as U.S. Senator from Ohio and the 23rd Governor of Ohio; as U.S. Treasury Secretary under President Abraham Lincoln; and as the sixth Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court.Chase was one of the most prominent members...

, though a long-time free-trader, worked with Morrill to pass a second tariff bill in summer 1861, raising rates another 10 points in order to generate more revenues. These subsequent bills were primarily revenue driven to meet the war's needs, though they enjoyed the support of protectionists such as Carey, who again assisted Morrill in the bill's drafting.

However, the tariff played only a modest role in financing the war. It was far less important than other measures, such as $2.8 billion in bond sales and some printing of Greenbacks. Customs revenue from tariffs totaled $345 million from 1861 through 1865, or 43% of all federal tax revenue, while spending on the Army and Navy totalled $3,065 million.

Reception abroad


The Morrill Tariff was met with intense hostility in Britain, where the free trade movement dominated public opinion. The new tariff schedule heavily penalized British iron, clothing, and manufactured exports with new taxes and sparked public outcry from many British politicians. The expectation of high tax rates probably caused British shippers to hasten their deliveries before the new rates took effect in the early summer of 1861. When complaints were heard from London, Congress counterattacked. The Senate Finance Committee chairman snapped, "What right has a foreign country to make any question about what we choose to do?"

When the American Civil War
American Civil War
The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...

 broke out in 1861, British public opinion was sympathetic to the Confederacy, in part because of lingering agitation over the tariff. As one diplomatic historian has explained, the Morrill Tariff:
"Not unnaturally gave great displeasure to England. It greatly lessened the profits of the American markets to English manufacturers and merchants, to a degree which caused serious mercantile distress in that country. Moreover, the British nation was then in the first flush of enthusiasm over free trade, and, under the lead of extremists like Cobden and Gladstone, was inclined to regard a protective tariff as essentially and intrinsically immoral, scarcely less so than larceny or murder. Indeed, the tariff was seriously regarded as comparable in offensiveness with slavery itself, and Englishmen were inclined to condemn the North for the one as much as the South for the other. "We do not like slavery," said Palmerston
Henry Temple, 3rd Viscount Palmerston
Henry John Temple, 3rd Viscount Palmerston, KG, GCB, PC , known popularly as Lord Palmerston, was a British statesman who served twice as Prime Minister in the mid-19th century...

 to Adams, "but we want cotton, and we dislike very much your Morrill tariff."


Many prominent British writers condemned the Morrill Tariff in the strongest terms. Economist William Stanley Jevons
William Stanley Jevons
William Stanley Jevons was a British economist and logician.Irving Fisher described his book The Theory of Political Economy as beginning the mathematical method in economics. It made the case that economics as a science concerned with quantities is necessarily mathematical...

 denounced it as a "retrograde" law. The well known novelist Charles Dickens
Charles Dickens
Charles John Huffam Dickens was an English novelist, generally considered the greatest of the Victorian period. Dickens enjoyed a wider popularity and fame than had any previous author during his lifetime, and he remains popular, having been responsible for some of English literature's most iconic...

 used his magazine, All the Year Round
All the Year Round
All the Year Round was a Victorian periodical, being a British weekly literary magazine founded and owned by Charles Dickens, published between 1859 and 1895 throughout the United Kingdom. Edited by Dickens, it was the direct successor to his previous publication Household Words, abandoned due to...

,
to attack the new tariff. On December 28, 1861 Dickens published a lengthy article, believed to be written by Henry Morley
Henry Morley
Henry Forster Morley was a writer on English literature and one of the earliest Professors of English Literature.-Life:...

,
which blamed the American Civil War
American Civil War
The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...

 on the Morrill Tariff:

If it be not slavery, where lies the partition of the interests that has led at last to actual separation of the Southern from the Northern States? …Every year, for some years back, this or that Southern state had declared that it would submit to this extortion only while it had not the strength for resistance. With the election of Lincoln and an exclusive Northern party taking over the federal government, the time for withdrawal had arrived … The conflict is between semi-independent communities [in which] every feeling and interest [in the South] calls for political partition, and every pocket interest [in the North] calls for union … So the case stands, and under all the passion of the parties and the cries of battle lie the two chief moving causes of the struggle. Union means so many millions a year lost to the South; secession means the loss of the same millions to the North. The love of money is the root of this, as of many other evils... [T]he quarrel between the North and South is, as it stands, solely a fiscal quarrel.


Communist philosopher Karl Marx
Karl Marx
Karl Heinrich Marx was a German philosopher, economist, sociologist, historian, journalist, and revolutionary socialist. His ideas played a significant role in the development of social science and the socialist political movement...

 was among the few writers in Britain who saw slavery as the major cause of the war. Marx wrote extensively in the British press and served as a London correspondent for several North American newspapers including Horace Greeley's New York Tribune
New York Tribune
The New York Tribune was an American newspaper, first established by Horace Greeley in 1841, which was long considered one of the leading newspapers in the United States...

.
Marx reacted to those who blamed the war on Morrill's bill, arguing instead that slavery had induced secession and that the tariff was just a pretext. Marx wrote, in October 1861:

Naturally, in America everyone knew that from 1846 to 1861 a free trade system prevailed, and that Representative Morrill carried his protectionist tariff through Congress only in 1861, after the rebellion had already broken out. Secession, therefore, did not take place because the Morrill tariff had gone through Congress, but, at most, the Morrill tariff went through Congress because secession had taken place.

Legacy


According to historian Heather Cox Richardson, Morrill intended to offer protection to both the usual manufacturing recipients and a broad group of agricultural interests. The purpose was to appease interests beyond the northeast, which traditionally supported protection. For the first time protection was extended to every major farm product.

Planning to distribute the benefits of a tariff to all sectors of the economy, and also hoping to broaden support for his party, Morrill rejected the traditional system of protection by proposing tariff duties on agricultural, mining, and fishing products, as well as on manufactures. Sugar, wool, flaxseed, hides, beef, pork, corn, grain, hemp, wool, and minerals would all be protected by the Morrill Tariff. The duty on sugar might well be expected to appease Southerners opposed to tariffs, and, notably, wool and flaxseed production were growing industries in the West. The new tariff bill also would protect coal, lead, copper, zinc, and other minerals, all of which the new northwestern states were beginning to produce. The Eastern fishing industry would receive a duty on dried, pickled, and salted fish. "In adjusting the details of a tariff," Morrill explained with a rhetorical flourish in his introduction of the bill, "I would treat agriculture, manufactures, mining, and commerce, as I would our whole people—as members of one family, all entitled to equal favor, and no one to be made the beast of burden to carry the packs of others."


According to Taussig, "Morrill and the other supporters of the act of 1861 declared that their intention was simply to restore the rates of 1846." However, he also gives reason to suspect that the bill's motives were intended to put high rates of protection on iron and wool to attract states in the West and in Pennsylvania:

"The important change which they (the sponsors) proposed to make from the provisions of the tariff of 1846 was to substitute specific for ad-valorem duties. Such a change from ad-valorem to specific duties is in itself by no means objectionable; but it has usually been made a pretext on the part of protectionists for a considerable increase in the actual duties paid. When protectionists make a change of this kind, they almost invariably make the specific duties higher than the ad-valorem duties for which they are supposed to be an equivalent...The Morrill tariff formed no exception to the usual course of things in this respect. The specific duties which it established were in many cases considerably above the ad-valorem duties of 1846. The most important direct changes made by the act of 1861 were in the increased duties on iron and on wool, by which it was hoped to attach to the Republican party Pennsylvania and some of the Western States"


Henry Carey, who assisted Morrill while drafting the bill and was one of its most vocal supporters, strongly emphasized its importance to the Republican Party in his January 2, 1861 letter to Lincoln. Carey told the President-Elect "the success of your administration is wholly dependent upon the passage of the Morrill bill at the present session." According to Carey:

"With it, the people will be relieved — your term will commence with a rising wave of prosperity — the Treasury will be filled and the party that elected you will be increased and strengthened. Without it, there will be much suffering among the people — much dissatisfaction with their duties — much borrowing on the part of the Government — & very much trouble among the Republican Party when the people shall come to vote two years hence. There is but one way to make the Party a permanent one, & that is, by the prompt repudiation to the free trade
Free trade
Under a free trade policy, prices emerge from supply and demand, and are the sole determinant of resource allocation. 'Free' trade differs from other forms of trade policy where the allocation of goods and services among trading countries are determined by price strategies that may differ from...

 system."


Congressman John Sherman
John Sherman (politician)
John Sherman, nicknamed "The Ohio Icicle" , was a U.S. Representative and U.S. Senator from Ohio during the Civil War and into the late nineteenth century. He served as both Secretary of the Treasury and Secretary of State and was the principal author of the Sherman Antitrust Act...

 later wrote:

The Morrill tariff bill came nearer than any other to meeting the double requirement of providing ample revenue for the support of the government and of rendering the proper protection to home industries. No national taxes, except duties on imported goods, were imposed at the time of its passage. The Civil War changed all this, reducing importations and adding tenfold to the revenue required. The government was justified in increasing existing rates of duty, and in adding to the dutiable list all articles imported, thus including articles of prime necessity and of universal use. In addition to these duties, it was compelled to add taxes on all articles of home production, on incomes not required for the supply of actual wants, and, especially, on articles of doubtful necessity, such as spirits, tobacco and beer. These taxes were absolutely required to meet expenditures for the army and navy, for the interest on the war debts and just pensions to those who were disabled by the war, and to their widows and orphans.

The Morrill Tariff and the secession movement


The Morrill tariff was adopted against the backdrop of the secession movement, and provided an issue for secessionist agitation in some southern states. The law's critics compared it to the 1828 Tariff of Abominations that sparked the Nullification Crisis
Nullification Crisis
The Nullification Crisis was a sectional crisis during the presidency of Andrew Jackson created by South Carolina's 1832 Ordinance of Nullification. This ordinance declared by the power of the State that the federal Tariff of 1828 and 1832 were unconstitutional and therefore null and void within...

, although its average rate was significantly lower.

Slavery dominated the secession debate in the southern states, but the Morrill Tariff was addressed in the conventions of Georgia
Georgia (U.S. state)
Georgia is a state located in the southeastern United States. It was established in 1732, the last of the original Thirteen Colonies. The state is named after King George II of Great Britain. Georgia was the fourth state to ratify the United States Constitution, on January 2, 1788...

 and South Carolina
South Carolina
South Carolina is a state in the Deep South of the United States that borders Georgia to the south, North Carolina to the north, and the Atlantic Ocean to the east. Originally part of the Province of Carolina, the Province of South Carolina was one of the 13 colonies that declared independence...

. On November 19, 1860 Senator Robert Toombs
Robert Toombs
Robert Augustus Toombs was an American political leader, United States Senator from Georgia, 1st Secretary of State of the Confederacy, and a Confederate general in the Civil War.-Early life:...

 gave a speech to the Georgia
Georgia (U.S. state)
Georgia is a state located in the southeastern United States. It was established in 1732, the last of the original Thirteen Colonies. The state is named after King George II of Great Britain. Georgia was the fourth state to ratify the United States Constitution, on January 2, 1788...

 legislature in which he denounced the "infamous Morrill bill." The tariff legislation, he argued, was the product of a coalition between abolitionists and protectionists in which "the free-trade abolitionists became protectionists; the non-abolition protectionists became abolitionists." Toombs described this coalition as "the robber and the incendiary... united in joint raid against the South." Anti-tariff sentiments also appeared in Georgia's Secession Declaration of January 29, 1861, written in part by Toombs.

Robert Barnwell Rhett similarly railed against the then-pending Morrill Tariff before the South Carolina convention. Rhett included a lengthy attack on tariffs in the Address of South Carolina to Slaveholding States, which the convention adopted on December 25, 1860 to accompany its secession ordinance.

And so with the Southern States, towards the Northern States, in the vital matter of taxation. They are in a minority in Congress. Their representation in Congress, is useless to protect them against unjust taxation; and they are taxed by the people of the North for their benefit, exactly as the people of Great Britain taxed our ancestors in the British parliament for their benefit. For the last forty years, the taxes laid by the Congress of the United States have been laid with a view of subserving the interests of the North. The people of the South have been taxed by duties on imports, not for revenue, but for an object inconsistent with revenue— to promote, by prohibitions, Northern interests in the productions of their mines and manufactures.

The Morrill Tariff played less prominently elsewhere in the South. In some portions of Virginia, secessionists promised a new protective tariff to assist the state's fledgling industries.

In the North, enforcement of the Morrill Tariff contributed to support for the Union cause among industrialists and merchant interests. Speaking of this class, the abolitionist Orestes Brownson
Orestes Brownson
Orestes Augustus Brownson was a New England intellectual and activist, preacher, labor organizer, and noted Catholic convert and writer...

 derisively remarked that "the Morrill Tariff moved them more than the fall of Sumter." In one such example the New York Times, which had previously opposed Morrill's bill on free trade grounds, editorialized that the tariff imbalance would bring commercial ruin to the North and urged its suspension until the secession crisis passed. "We have imposed high duties on our commerce at the very moment the seceding states are inviting commerce to their ports by low duties." As secession became more evident and the fledgling Confederacy adopted a much lower tariff of its own, the paper urged military action to enforce the Morrill Tariff in the Southern states.

Historiography


Historians, James Huston notes, have been baffled by the role of high tariffs in general and have offered multiple conflicting interpretations over the years. (Low tariffs, all historians agree, were noncontroversial and were needed to fund the federal government.) One school of thought says the Republicans were the willing tools of would-be monopolists. A second schools says the Republicans truly believed tariffs would promote nationalism and prosperity for everyone along with balanced growth in every region (as opposed to growth only in the cotton South). A third school emphasizes the undeniable importance of the tariff in cementing party loyalty, especially in industrial states. Another approach emphasizes that factory workers were eager for high tariffs because it protected their high wages from European competition.

Charles A. Beard
Charles A. Beard
Charles Austin Beard was, with Frederick Jackson Turner, one of the most influential American historians of the first half of the 20th century. He published hundreds of monographs, textbooks and interpretive studies in both history and political science...

 argued in the 1920s that very long-term economic issues were critical, with the pro-tariff industrial Northeast forming a coalition with the anti-tariff agrarian Midwest against the plantation South. According to Luthin in the 1940s, "Historians are not unanimous as to the relative importance which Southern fear and hatred of a high tariff had in causing the secession of the slave states." However, none of the statesmen seeking a compromise in 1860-61 that would avert the war ever suggested the tariff might be the key to a solution, or might be a cause of the secession. Beginning in the 1950s, historians moved away from the Beard thesis of economic causality. In its place, historians led by Richard Hofstadter
Richard Hofstadter
Richard Hofstadter was an American public intellectual of the 1950s, a historian and DeWitt Clinton Professor of American History at Columbia University...

 began to emphasize the social causes of the war, centered around the issue of slavery. The Beard thesis has enjoyed a recent revival among economists, pro-Confederate historians, and neo-Beardian scholars. A 2002 study by economists Robert McGuire and T. Norman Van Cott concluded:
A de facto constitutional mandate that tariffs lie on the lower end of the Laffer
Laffer curve
In economics, the Laffer curve is a theoretical representation of the relationship between government revenue raised by taxation and all possible rates of taxation. It is used to illustrate the concept of taxable income elasticity . The curve is constructed by thought experiment...

 relationship means that the Confederacy went beyond simply observing that a given tax revenue is obtainable with a "high" and "low" tax rate, a la Alexander Hamilton
Alexander Hamilton
Alexander Hamilton was a Founding Father, soldier, economist, political philosopher, one of America's first constitutional lawyers and the first United States Secretary of the Treasury...

 and others. Indeed, the constitutional action suggests that the tariff issue may in fact have been even more important in the North–South tensions that led to the Civil War than many economists and historians currently believe."


Neoconfederate economist Thomas DiLorenzo
Thomas DiLorenzo
Thomas James DiLorenzo is an American economics professor at Loyola University Maryland. He is an adherent of the Austrian School of Economics. He is a senior faculty member of the Ludwig von Mises Institute and an associated scholar of the Abbeville Institute...

 asserts that the tariff was the primary cause of the Civil War. Nearly all Civil War historians disagree. Allan Nevins
Allan Nevins
Allan Nevins was an American historian and journalist, renowned for his extensive work on the history of the Civil War and his biographies of such figures as President Grover Cleveland, Hamilton Fish, Henry Ford, and John D. Rockefeller.-Life:Born in Camp Point, Illinois, Nevins was educated at...

 and James M. McPherson
James M. McPherson
James M. McPherson is an American Civil War historian, and is the George Henry Davis '86 Professor Emeritus of United States History at Princeton University. He received the 1989 Pulitzer Prize for Battle Cry of Freedom, his most famous book...

 downplay the significance of the tariff dispute, arguing that it was peripheral to the issue of slavery
Slavery
Slavery is a system under which people are treated as property to be bought and sold, and are forced to work. Slaves can be held against their will from the time of their capture, purchase or birth, and deprived of the right to leave, to refuse to work, or to demand compensation...

. They note that slavery dominated the secessionist declarations, speeches, and pamphlets. Nevins also points to the argument of Alexander Stephens
Alexander Stephens
Alexander Hamilton Stephens was an American politician from Georgia. He was Vice President of the Confederate States of America during the American Civil War. He also served as a U.S...

, who disputed Toombs' claims about the severity of the Morrill tariff. Though initially a unionist, Stephens would later cite slavery as the "cornerstone
Cornerstone Speech
The Cornerstone Speech was delivered extemporaneously by Confederate Vice President Alexander Stephens in Savannah, Georgia on March 21, 1861.The speech explained what the differences were between the constitution of the Confederate Republic and that of the United States, laid out the Confederate...

" reason behind his support of the secessionist cause.

External links