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Protectionism Doesn’t Pay

Contemporary American trade restrictionists are essentially expressing a modern version of mercantilism.

President McKinley standing near a large rock labelled 'Unsettled Tariff Question'.
(Photo by: Photo12/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

Reprinted with Permission from The Next American Economy: Nation, State, and Markets in an Uncertain World, by Samuel Gregg, published by Encounter Books. @ 2022 by Encounter Books. All rights reserved.

Apart from slavery, few subjects divided Americans more consistently during the nineteenth century than tariffs. Disagreements about their scope and effects even helped precipitate a major constitutional clash. The passage of the Tariff of 1828 and the Tariff of 1832 led to the Nullification Crisis, whereby South Carolina’s claim that it could prohibit enforcement of these tariff acts within its boundaries led to President Andrew Jackson threatening to deploy federal troops to enforce federal law.


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