صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

against fostering "one branch of industry to the detriment of another." This declaration, however, made when the issue of protection took on so definitely in the popular mind the aspect of a struggle between the agricultural and manufacturing interests, had a clearer ring at the time than it might have to-day. In his inaugural address Polk stressed this feature, and declared against a tariff for protection rather than for revenue.1 In his first annual message he reiterated his views, defined the revenue standard as that which would forbid the increase of duties to a point where the tariff receipts would begin to diminish, condemned the tariff of 1842 as not agreeing with this standard, and recommended a revision which should substitute ad valorem for specific duties. In his report to Congress at the same time (December, 1845), the secretary of the treasury, Robert J. Walker, ably reviewed the whole subject, and made recommendations in line with those of the president.2

Action on the tariff was somewhat delayed by the pressure of other questions, especially that concerning the notice of abrogation of the Oregon convention;3 but at length a bill, framed in accordance with the message and the report by Secretary Walker, in consultation with the proper committees of Congress,1 was introduced in the House on April 14, and in June the discussion began in earnest. In spite of the opposition of Pennsylvania Democrats like Cameron and Thompson, the bill was passed, being approved by the president July 30, 1846.2

1 Dewey, Financial Hist, of U. S., 194; Richardson, Messages and Papers, IV., 379.

* Richardson, Messages and Papers, IV., 403-406; report in Niles' Register, LXIX., 332-237. * See p. 170, above.

This act, which is usually known as the Walker Tariff, divided the commodities with which it dealt into nine schedules, distinguished by the letters A to I, inclusive. Articles in schedule A, consisting of brandy, spirits, etc., were to pay a duty of one hundred per cent, ad valorem; those in schedule B, consisting of spices, preserved fruits and meats, manufactures of fine woods and tobacco, wines, etc., forty per cent.; those in schedules C, D, E, and F, including most commercial products, were to pay respectively thirty, twenty-five, twenty, and fifteen per cent.; those in schedule G, including books, precious stones, watches, etc., ten per cent.; and those in schedule H, consisting of goods unmanufactured or fit only to be remanufactured, etc., five per cent. The goods in schedule I, including bullion, coins, copper for the mints and for sheathing, tea, coffee, objects of taste, etc., were to be free of duty.

The Walker Tariff, while by no means reaching free trade, was certainly a step in that direction. It was in effect till 1857, when the excessive revenue caused another reduction.1 How far the drift against protection might have gone had it not been sharply checked by the necessity for revenue growing out of the Civil War, it is impossible to say. The country was very prosperous during the years 1846 to 1857, but the evident causes of that prosperity are so numerous that it is impossible to say how far it was due to the low tariff; that policy, however, was undoubtedly one of the causes.2

1 Niles' Register, LXIX., 370, 407.

1 Cong. Globe, 29 Cong., 1 Sess., 1044,1112,1157; U.S. Statutes at Large, IX., 42-49.

1 Cf. Smith, Parties and Slavery (Am. Nation, XVIII.), chap. v. 'Dewey, Financial Hist, of the U. S., 351; Taussig, Tariff Hist, of U. S., 133, 135.

CHAPTER XIII

THE RUPTURE WITH MEXICO
(1843-1846)

UPON the annexation of Texas, Mexico at once severed her diplomatic relations with the United States. This result had been foreshadowed by the utterances of Mexican officials dating from the revival of the question in 1843. The relations, however, of the two countries had been difficult to adjust from the time when Mexico became independent in 1821; and the situation, when the breach occurred in 1845, will be made clearer by a brief r6sum6 of the growth of their differences. The most serious friction between them arose concerning four subjects: claims of the United States citizens on the government of Mexico; assistance given the Texans by the people of the United States; violation of Mexican territory by United States troops; and the annexation of Texas.

The claims on the Mexican government were based, for the most part, on aggressions, actual or alleged, on the persons and property of the claimants, which were committed in Mexico. They presented a rather difficult case for diplomatic adjustment because the facts on which they rested were the natural outcome of the chronic state of revolution existing in that country from the time of its birth as a separate nationality. Complaints of the illegal seizure and sale of vessels belonging to citizens of the United States were made to the Mexican government through the official channels as early as 1826.1 A report from Secretary of State Forsyth, transmitted by President Jackson to the House of Representatives, January 5, 1835, stated that because of the disturbed condition of Mexico negotiations on the subject had been unsuccessful, but the prospect seemed to be hopeful.8 The breach of relations in 1836 impaired the chances of a settlement for the time; but in his annual message of December 5, 1836, Jackson still expressed the hope that courtesy and forbearance would prevent any necessity for laying the subject before Congress again.3

At the very moment, however, when the message was presented, negotiations in the city of Mexico were nearing a crisis in which the prospect of an amicable adjustment became more remote than ever. July 20, 1836, a list of claims had been sent from the department of state at Washington to Powhatan Ellis, the United States minister, and he had been instructed to demand reparation; if he

1 House Exec. Docs., 35 Cong., 3 Sess., XII., No. 351, p. 345.

1 Ibid., 33 Cong., 2 Sess., No. 61.

'Richardson, Messages and Papers, III., 338.

« السابقةمتابعة »