Republicans and the Tariff Question


 "Gen. Harrison's Ideal of American Trade"
  Cartoonist:  William Allen Rogers
  Source:  Harper's Weekly
  Date:   August 11, 1888, p. 600

Click to see a large version of this cartoon...

Click to see a large version of this cartoon

Complete HarpWeek Explanation:
This cartoon is another critique of the Republican commitment to high tariffs intended to protect American industry from foreign competition. Benjamin Harrison, the Republican presidential nominee, has set up an open-air market somewhere in Latin America. He offers a variety of products for sale—including a typewriter, canned goods, lamp, telephone, gun, box of soap, fabric, and a jug of “free whiskey”—but will only accept cash, which the Latino does not have. The cartoon’s message is that protective tariffs interrupt the normal flow of trade across national borders, leaving (in this case) Latin American countries impoverished and American products unsold.

However, the cartoonist ignores the trade policy ideas of James Blaine, who served briefly as secretary of state in 1881. In the same issue as this cartoon, Harper's Weekly reported that after winning the presidential election Harrison would appoint Blaine secretary of state. That was significant because, although the Maine Republican was a leading protectionist, he promoted trade reciprocity: negotiating mutually lower tariffs with individual nations in order to build stronger commercial ties between them and the United States. His particular target was Latin America, and he had resigned as secretary of state in December 1881 when President Chester Arthur cancelled a Pan-American conference. As Harrison’s secretary of state (1889-1892), Blaine again pursued improved relations with Latin America, resulting in the first Pan-American Conference (1889-1890) and several reciprocal trade agreements.













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