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The Tariff

The Tariff

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Excerpt from The Tariff: Speech of Hon. William McKinley, Jr., Of Ohio, in the House of Representatives, Wednesday, April 30, 1884

It is not because they are favorable to protection, even incidentally, that only 20 percent, reduction is proposed, but because believing this is all they can accomplish this year they invite all the friends of tariff reform to join them, with the assurance that next year and for the following years additional steps will be taken which will ultimately bring our tariff taxation to a strictly revenue basis; which means a tax upon tea and coffee and such other articles as we can not produce or manufacture in the United States, and the release of all others from customs duties.

My distinguished friend, the chairman of the Committee on Ways and Means, shakes his head in disapproval of that proposition. Why, this theory of taxation is as old as the Democratic party, and in the Forty-sixth Congress my distinguished friend and colleague [Mr. Hurd] introduced into this House a joint resolution a copy of which I have in my hand - he one of the most conspicuous leaders of the free-trade party here to-day - and he distinctly declared in the ninth section of that joint resolution that to the end the present tariff shall become one for revenue Only the following changes should be made.

1. Upon all dutiable articles producing little or no revenue to the Government the duty should be returned to a revenue basis or they should be placed on the free-list.

2.The duty on tea and coffee shall be restored,

And that is what a revenue tariff means. It means collection of revenue upon the fewest possible articles, chiefly of necessity, that are consumed by the people of this country.

Mr. Hammond. Will the gentleman permit me to ask him a question?

Mr. Mckinley. Certainly.

Mr. Hammond. What became of that resolution?

Mr. Mckinley. It was not passed by the Forty-sixth Congress. It was undertaken to be passed, but no vote was ever had thereon.

A Member. That was a Democratic Congress.

Mr. Mckinley. Yes, the Democrats were in control; but that Democratic Congress failed to do a great many things which it believed ought to be done. It lacked the courage of its convictions. The truth is, that has been the trouble with the Democratic party for the last twenty-five years in failing to enforce its true convictions.

Mr. Hammond. That was the argument or the opinion of one man, but not of the party.

Mr. Mckinley. It was not only the opinion of one man, permit me to say, but that resolution was reported to this House by the chairman of the Committee of Ways and Means, upon which committee was found such gentlemen as the distinguished Speaker of this House and the eminent gentleman from Virginia [Mr. Tucker]. Whether it was the voice of this House or not, it was the voice of that great committee which was the organ of this House on all economic questions.

The First Assault Upon Discriminating Duties.

So that before we enter fully upon the discussion of this particular measure we might as well understand that this is but the first assault, which is to be followed by a succession of assaults, to the total overthrow of the protective system; and that the fight we now make is not against this bill only, but is directed as well against that which will surely follow if we permit this incipient step to be taken.

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