Economic and Political forces shaping the smoot-hawley tariff act of 1930

Update Item Information
Publication Type dissertation
School or College College of Social & Behavioral Science
Department Economics
Author Liechty, Elden Elmer
Title Economic and Political forces shaping the smoot-hawley tariff act of 1930
Date 1972
Description In the United States, tariffs have received more legislative attention than any other economic issue. From the passage of the first tariff in 1798 until the Smoot-Hawley Act in 1930, a new tariff was enacted on an average of every seven years. The Smoot-Hawley tariff has generated considerable academic attention; however, most of the analysis has been directed at its ex post impact on the United States and world trade. The purpose of this particular research is to investigate the ex ante events and pressures exerted by four principle economic units, labor, industry, agriculture, and protectionist oriented politicians which led to its enactment. Chapter I is a summary of protection in the United States beginning with the pre-revolutionary tariff activities of the colonists and ending with the passage of the 1922 Fordney McCumber Act. Organized labor and the tariff is the subject of the second chapter. During the reign of Samuel Gompers, only scattered support of tariffs was permitted. This changed in 1924 as his successor, William Green, did not share Gomper's hostile attitude towards protection. Labor's involvement in the tariff movement was led by Matthew Woll, an AF of L vice-president and president of the Photo Engravers Union. In Addition to his labor appointments, Woll was preident of the America's Wage Earners Protective Conference (AWEPC). This was a determined group of approximately twenty AF of L Affiliates dedicated to increasing the level of United States tariffs. The majority of the AF of L membership was not sympathetic towards the tariff; however, this minority faction acting as though it was labor's spokesman, provided a strong and effective lobby for the Smoot-Hawley Tariff. It was not until the end of World War I that two former tariff enemies, business and agriculture, were drawn together. former tariff enemies, business and agriculture, were drawn together. Business interests had always worked for increasing protection while agriculture, with a few exceptions, had opposed it. The loss of European markets and the resulting decline in farm incomes brought increasing demands for an agricultural tariff. Congress quickly responded by passing the Fordney-McCumber Act of 1922. Unhappy with its results, agriculture increased its attempts to obtain new forms of protection. Many suggestions were made, but the one that drew the most attention was the export debenture. Repeated attempts were made throughout the 1920's to incorporate the debenture into various farm relief bills, including the Smoot-Hawley Tariff. Business interests followed a more traditional approach towards the tariff except a very ardent protectionist, Joseph R. Grundy, who was assigned along with Senator Reed Smoot to write the 1928 Republican Party tariff platform. He was also a member of the National Association of Manufacturers and was devoted to their objective of eliminating competition by building a tariff that would equalize foreign and domestic costs. Prior to 1928, the Democrats had spent much time and energy building a reputation as the champion of free trade, while the Republicans were publicizing themselves as the party of protection. The material developed in Chapter IV takes issue with this dichotomy and places the responsibility for our protectionist philosophy where it belongs, on the shoulders of both political parties. The tariff was an important issue during the 1928 campaign as both nominees promised a revision of existing tariff laws, and even though they lost the election, the Democrats did not lose their enthusiasm for the tariff. Two inter-party coalition, both dedicated to increasing protection were formed. One represented West and Midwestern agriculture and Democrats, the other was composed of Eastern industrial interests and Southern Democrats. The combined protective pressures of these four sectors of the United States economy made an upward revision of our tariff laws inevitable.
Type Text
Publisher University of Utah
Dissertation Name Doctor of Philosophy
Language eng
Rights Management (c) Elden Elmer Leichty
Format Medium application/pdf
ARK ark:/87278/s6hq9q66
Setname ir_etd
ID 1612105
Reference URL