The Reciprocity Craze

The Reciprocity Craze

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Excerpt from The Reciprocity Craze: A Tract for the Times

For some time past incessant attacks have been made on our Free Trade policy. At first these attacks were made doubtingly, hesitatingly; but lately, speakers and writers have become emboldened, the banner of "Protection to Native Industry" has once more been unfurled, and the air resounds with cries for "Reciprocity or Retaliation." This is an astonishing phenomenon to those who understand and appreciate what Free Trade has done, and is doing, for this country. The most striking feature about the agitation is, to their minds, its extraordinary inopportuneness; the time chosen for it being just that moment when the clouds of depression are dispersing, and we seem to be once more floating on the rising wave of prosperity. We have now had thirty-five years' experience of Free Trade, with their ups and downs of inflation and depression. In the course of these have witnessed all sorts of political and social changes. We have seen the overthrow of dynasties, the uprising of peoples, and wars on an unprecedented scale. Railways and telegraph have obviated to a great extent the inconveniences of distance and time. Great perturbations in the standard of value have occurred, the gold discoveries at first causing a general rise in prices. Of late years however, an increasing demand for the metal, and a diminishing supply, accompanied by a partial demonetisation of silver, have caused a disturbance of values in the opposite direction of a general fall in prices. During all these years, England alone among the nations has maintained a system of free ports, the only changes in her fiscal policy being in the direction of greater freedom, while other nations, such as the United States, France, and Germany, have raised round themselves the barriers of prohibitory tariffs.

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