Just to tie together the below two posts, about how historians used to write and what you should really oughta know about the Tariff of Abominations, let us have recourse to the invaluable Davis Dewey, which I have on paper and we all have on Google:
Jackson called in 1824 for “adequate and fair protection,” saying “it is time we should become a little more Americanized, and, instead of feeding the paupers and laborers of Europe, feed our own, or else in a short time by continuing our present policy we shall all be paupers ourselves.”
That’s not too hard to understand, is it? Even without animation. What, we all need to have animation now?
In fact, Jackson was so clear on this point that, as the invaluable Dewey puts it:
Recourse was consequently had to political strategy, which it was hoped would prevent legislation and sufficiently befog public opinion to make it easy for Jackson’s friends to win support both North and South…. The plot was to report a bill protective in character but carrying such high duties on raw materials that it would be extremely burdensome to the manufacturers of New England; the dissatisfied elements were then expected to join with the South, which was opposed to protection in any form, and their combined effort could prevent the passage of any bill. Thus … Jackson would not be committed….
The plans miscarried; the bill was indeed made odious, but so strong was the protective sentiment that the measure found acceptance in each branch of Congress….
What do we learn from this? (1) that the representation of regions and states in Congress ensures that if you want to protect this one, you have to do a deal to protect that one, and pretty soon you have a bill nobody likes as a whole but everyone is willing to pass because of its juicy juicy parts. Hurray for the Great Compromise!
Also, (2) this is all about sections, which means it’s all about slavery, and slavery caused sectional disputes, including those over trade policy.
But let’s not stop there! We can also say that trade policy caused slavery! The slave power arose in America thanks to British trade legislation: the seventeenth-century Navigation Acts let Britain take over the role of Europe’s entrepot from Holland, brought lots of cotton into the islands, and created incentives for innovation. Innovation drove up demand for cotton, but Americans were able to keep the price down because they had lots of land and lots of slaves. (Or so I gather from this new book I’m reading.)
So it’s chickens and eggs, all the way down.