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Speech of Hon. Ben; Butterworth, of Ohio

Speech of Hon. Ben; Butterworth, of Ohio

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Excerpt from Speech of Hon. Ben; Butterworth, of Ohio: In the House of Representatives; May 16, 1888

Let us hope, in the interest of the great cause we would serve, that the issue joined in the tariff planks of the national platforms will be so distinctly stated as to indicate that the resolution was drawn by patriotic statesmen, and not by time-serving and juggling politicians.

Whether the tariff needs revision is not the issue joined between us. Upon that point there is no controlling difference of opinion. Whether the duty is too high upon this article or too low upon that is not the line upon which we divide. Whether a rate of duty yielding a much less revenue might be so adjusted as to afford all needful protection to our industries is not the question upon which we are in antagonism. These are matters of detail, and concerning which there might be wide diversity of opinion, not only between the political parties but among the members of each. These issues would naturally grow out of conditions which affect the application of an economic policy, admitting the wisdom of the policy itself.

The controversy arises out of an irreconcilable difference of opinion between the political organizations represented upon this floor as to the wisdom and justice of the protective system. You assail it as being unsound in principle and iniquitous in its operation. We defend it as being alike wise in theory and beneficent in its results.

You assert (and each speaker who has addressed the House from the Democratic standpoint has endeavored to maintain) that to levy a duty on imports, except for the purpose of raising needed revenue, is at once unconstitutional, unwise, unjust, and indefensible, while we assert the exact reverse, insisting that not only may duties be levied with reference to revenue, but with reference to the protection of our home industries as well, and beyond that, that such duties are indispensable to the development of our national resources.

You assert, and have endeavored to prove, that the direct and inevitable result of a tariff levied for the purpose of protection, and to the extent that it is so levied, is to exact tribute of the many for the benefit of the few; that the direct tendency of the system is to found and foster monopoly, to make the rich richer and the poor poorer; that all these evil results are the legitimate outgrowth of the system, and that being so, it is the irresistible logic of the situation that if you are honest, as you are, your end, aim, and deliberate purpose must be to destroy this system.

What we account a blessing in the present system our Democratic friends condemn as a curse. It follows, therefore, that the political parties divide on the wisdom of protection as an economic policy. In fact, we can not deceive ourselves if we try, and I doubt if we can deceive the country if we make the effort, as to the real obstacle which stands in the way of a proper and needed revision of the tariff.

It will not be found in the inability of this House to revise it in conformity with the just and reasonable requirements of the protective system, if that was in truth your end and aim. Nor would it be found in any unwillingness on our part to aid you in so doing. But that is not the prime object of your endeavor. The obstacle is found in the fact that your political creed demands that, while revising, you should seek to destroy.

Democratic Party Seek To Destroy The Protective System.

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