sexta-feira, janeiro 06, 2006

23) Enciclopédia de Tarifas e Comércio nos EUA (Book review)

Cynthia Clark Northrup and Elaine C. Prange Turney (editors):
Encyclopedia of Tariffs and Trade in U.S. History
(Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2003. lvi + 1631 pp. (five volumes), $345
(hardcover), ISBN: 0-313-32789-0)

Reviewed for EH.NET by Stephen Meardon, Department of Economics,
Williams College.

Each of the three volumes of this encyclopedia, edited by Cynthia
Clark Northrup of the University of Texas at Arlington and Elaine C.
Prange Turney of the University of Dallas, responds to a genuine need
of researchers and students of the history of U.S. trade policy. The
first volume is the encyclopedia proper: a compendium of over four
hundred alphabetically-ordered entries ranging roughly from 200 to
1000 words, with a median of perhaps 300 words, and preceded by an
eight-page introduction and a guide to selected topics. The several
topics include commodities (under which heading twenty-one entries
are classified, e.g. coal, rum, and tobacco), economic philosophy
(one entry on "Economic Darwinism"), economists (seventeen entries
including Bastiat, Hume, and Raúl Prebisch), events (sixteen entries,
e.g. industrial revolution and nullification), organizations
(twenty-nine entries from the American Free Trade League to the
Sierra Club), political parties and groups (ten entries including
Democrats, Republicans, and Know-Nothings), politicians (212 entries
from Alexander Hamilton to Al Gore), and tariffs (thirty-four entries
including the Tariffs of 1789, 1790, 1792, and so on to Hawley-Smoot).

The second volume is a selection of momentous texts, reports,
manifestos and speeches: an anthology of primary documents
representing the ideas and politics that have animated U.S. trade
controversies. The third volume reproduces in their entireties the
thirty-one comprehensive tariff laws negotiated by Congress from 1789
to 1930, after which time revisions of the tariff were made by the
executive branch.

These last two volumes are easier to evaluate, and ultimately to
recommend, than the first. The content, strengths, and weaknesses of
Vol. II, _Debating the Issues: Selected Primary Documents_, are most
visible in contrast with F. W. Taussig's old but still valuable
_Selected Readings in International Trade and Tariff Problems_
(1921). Both include excerpts from Book IV of Smith's _Wealth of
Nations_ on the fallacies of the mercantile system and the benefits
of trade; from Hamilton's _Report on Manufactures_, an abiding source
of inspiration to advocates of protection; and from Grover
Cleveland's 1887 State of the Union address, in which he staked his
re-election the following year on tariff reform -- and lost. But each
includes many more readings unduplicated by the other.

Taussig's purpose was to piece together a book that could stand on
its own as a college text on international trade and tariff problems
in America and Europe, so he included alongside the foregoing
documents samples from (among others) Ricardo, J. S. Mill, J. E.
Cairnes, and Taussig himself on international trade theory; Bastiat,
Richard Schüller, Lujo Brentano, and Alfred Marshall on free trade
versus protection; and Daniel Webster, Henry Clay, and William
McKinley on the protective controversy in the United States. Northrup
and Turney intend their Volume II to be, unlike Taussig's _Selected
Readings_, a library reference book, not a course textbook, and their
inquiry is best described as historical, not economic. Their
geographic area of concern, too, is limited to the United States. So
notwithstanding their inclusion of Smith they pass over the theorists
and redouble their attention to American politicians. To Taussig's
Webster, Clay and McKinley they add speeches by Andrew Jackson, John
Sherman, Benjamin Harrison, William Howard Taft, Theodore Roosevelt,
Woodrow Wilson, and so on, up to the transcript of the 1993 debate
between Al Gore and Ross Perot over the NAFTA.

Intellectual historians may be disappointed to see the crafters of
legislation privileged to the exclusion of the crafters of their
ideas. When Senator John Sherman of Ohio, speaking in advocacy of the
tariff increase of 1865, explained that "although representing an
interior state chiefly engaged in agriculture, yet I have always felt
that the prosperity of one industry and section finally inured to the
benefit of the whole nation and every part" (II., 235) and proposed
therefore to discriminate in favor of home industry, he echoed Henry
C. Carey. One would like to see the idea exposited also by Carey

That alone does not stand as much of a criticism of the anthology:
its boundaries had to be drawn somewhere, after all, and for the late
nineteenth century at least one can refer to other sources, like
William Barber's (2005) excellent anthology, to fill in the
theoretical gaps. On the other hand, the inclusion of the likes of
Carey in addition to Sherman would have done more than consolidate
the relevant material in one set of books. It would have raised the
question: Why Sherman, after all? Carey's protective doctrine was
influential not only to Sherman: among Carey's more ardent disciples
were William D. ("Pig Iron") Kelley and James G. Blaine, who were the
principal standard bearers in Congress for the protective system
before the ascendancy of McKinley. Their speeches are more reflective
of the doctrine than is Sherman's -- as should be expected, for they
were more loyal adherents to the doctrine than was Sherman, who was a
relative moderate (Stanwood 1903, II, 181, 190). Some more
intellectual context could have served as a check on the selection of
political documents (and vice-versa). Nevertheless, given the limited
scope of the volume, the well-chosen selections far outnumber the
questionable ones.

Volume III, _The Texts of the Tariffs_, would appear at a glance to
be immune to similar criticisms of omissions, at least through 1930.
All of the comprehensive tariff acts prior to that year are included
in it. As for the period since 1930, Northrup and Turney explain that
tariff changes have been secured through bilateral and multilateral
agreements negotiated by the executive and approved by Congress,
rather than (as was done before) the other way round. The large
number of such agreements prohibit their inclusion in the volume.
Here, too, what is missing, one could argue, is the necessary, and
even well-chosen, sacrifice that must be made given the space

The problem with the argument would be that even from 1789 to 1930
the executive branch negotiated numerous reciprocal trade agreements.
From the immediate postbellum period to the 1890s, in particular,
they were the subject of considerable controversy in U.S. tariff
policy. Erstwhile Whigs and Republicans like Henry C. Carey and his
protégé, Blaine, who deplored the Canadian reciprocity agreement of
1854, were the leading advocates of later agreements negotiated
mainly (but not only) with Hawaii and the Latin American republics;
Democrats by and large opposed them. Why? With no additional
information, one might suppose either that Blaine and his ilk were
not really as protectionist as heretofore suggested, or that they
anticipated trade to be the handmaiden of U.S. investment abroad,
investors the advance party for annexation by an emergent U.S.
empire, and imperial growth to be worth the loss of protectionist
doctrinal purity.

With some additional information -- just one or two examples of the
many reciprocity agreements ratified during the period, including
preferably one that Blaine negotiated as Harrison's Secretary of
State and that Cleveland abrogated -- one would begin to see why
either one of the last two stories is incomplete. Republicans and
Democrats alike understood reciprocity to serve the interests of
protection, and their understanding was well founded. This important
facet of nineteenth-century American tariff controversies, in which
may be found the origins of the Republican turn towards trade
expansion, is clouded from view by a collection of legislative acts
comprising exclusively those modifying "the" tariff. And yet, having
such a collection at hand, while potentially hazardous to the student
of U.S. trade policy, is helpful to the researcher.

Back to Volume I, _The Encyclopedia_. The more than four hundred
entries were written by seventy-four contributors, most of them
faculty members in history departments, a few of them graduate
students in history, and a few others undergraduates or independent
scholars. Many of the entries concern organizations, individuals,
events or things of which I knew little before picking up the
encyclopedia. I profited from reading them but cannot evaluate their
accuracy. Others concern things I already knew either vaguely or
firmly and found to be explained extraordinarily well. In this
category the entries on John C. Calhoun, Henry Clay, Clay's
Compromise, the Force Act [of 1832], the Tariff of Abominations [of
1828], and Andrew Jackson written by Adrienne Caughfield, at the time
of publication a Ph.D. student in history at Texas Christian
University, stand out. Those by Cynthia Clark Northrup are notable
for their generally high quality and also for their number: she
appears to have done the heaviest lifting in Volume I, authoring by
my count eighty entries.

But other entries by other authors are worryingly inaccurate or
misleading. Regarding "American Farmers" the reader is told that "in
1913 the Underwood-Simmons Tariff became the first tariff since
before the American Civil War to put many agricultural items of the
free list while lowering others; unfortunately, this benefited the
consumer, not the producer" (I, 12). The part before the semicolon is
proved by Vol. III to be untrue; the part after it, depending on who
is meant by "the producer," is either obvious or false. Regarding
Charles Francis Adams, the reader is told that after Adams's
supporters were outmaneuvered by those of Horace Greeley for the
Liberal Republican nomination in 1872, "throughout the Gilded Age the
tariff issue would only emerge as a diversionary tactic" (I, 3). At
best this statement presumes "Gilded Age" to refer to a much shorter
time period than is usually intended (and even then it is arguable).
More accurately it is odd -- and refuted by any number of people,
events, and texts, e.g. the careers of authors like William Graham
Sumner and politicians like Blaine, Harrison, and Cleveland, the
tariff commission of 1882, the presidential election of 1888, and
Joanne Reitano's very good book (cited elsewhere in this
encyclopedia) _The Tariff Question in the Gilded Age: The Great
Debate of 1888_ (1994).

What stands out ultimately in these three volumes -- the convenience
of having at hand the many resources that are included in it, or the
misapprehensions that could result from the exclusion of notable
others? The excellent encyclopedia entries by scholars like
Caughfield and the overall accomplishment of Northrup, or the smaller
number of misleading entries? My reservations have not prevented me
from thumbing often through the encyclopedia -- particularly but not
exclusively Volume III -- while doing my own writing. So I will
recommend it to other researchers of the history of U.S. trade
policy, too. The high price will cause most to obtain it only through
their institutions' libraries.


William J. Barber, editor, 2005. _The Development of the National
Economy: The United States from the Civil War through the 1890s_.
London: Pickering and Chatto.

Joanne Reitano, 1994. _The Tariff Question in the Gilded Age: The
Great Debate of 1888_. Pennsylvania State University Press.

Edward Stanwood, 1903. _American Tariff Controversies in the
Nineteenth Century_ (two volumes). New York: Houghton, Mifflin and Co.

Frank W. Taussig, editor, 1921. _Selected Readings in International
Trade and Tariff Problems_. Boston: Ginn and Company

Stephen Meardon is author of "Richard Cobden's American Quandary:
Negotiating Peace, Free Trade, and Anti-Slavery" (in Anthony Howe and
Simon Morgan, eds., _Rethinking Nineteenth Century Liberalism:
Richard Cobden Bicentenary Essays_, Ashgate, forthcoming) and "How
TRIPs Got Legs: Copyright, Trade Policy, and the Role of Government
in Nineteenth-Century American Economic Thought," _History of
Political Economy_ (supplement, 2005).

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