Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 74.djvu/461

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457
TARIFF REVISION

TARIFF REVISION FROM THE IMPORTER'S STANDPOINT.
By FRANCIS E. HAMILTON

NEW YORK CITY

THE exchange of commodities between the inhabitants of this world began at the point of time when original savagery first felt the influences tending toward semi-barbarism, and the purely physical control of man over his fellowman began slowly to yield to less brutal methods.

From that day, many thousands of years ago, until the present time, the advancement of civilization has been accurately measured by the state of commercial development, so that we now classify nations not by the numbers of their fighting men, but rather by the magnitude of their trade.

For a long period the free exchange and barter which sent Joseph and his brethren from Arabia down to Egypt and brought the Queen of Sheba to King Solomon's gates, ruled the known world over, and the caravans of Kenghis Khan or the sailor merchants of Cleopatra bought where they could buy the cheapest and sold where they could sell the dearest—duty free—be the market at home or abroad.

As the centuries passed and the people became less nomadic, the various nations were known each to each as producers of specific articles or classes of merchandise, and the tides of commerce began to flow in more fixed channels as the years ran. The spices of the east came westward for sale to the nations of Europe and the Atlantic coasts, while the stuffs and tapestries of Germany and Italy and the weapons of Spain found markets in both England and Asia. Except when some despot, requiring the gold to fill an empty exchequer, sold the privilege to trade in particular goods and thus created a monopoly, all the merchandizing from the beginning of the Christian era down to about 1600 was free and untrammeled of duty, either import or export.

From that time on, however, it was found that in various countries and with regard to various commodities, some restriction in the market and the method of their sale was necessary or the production languished and the goods disappeared.

The first duty laid upon goods coming into this country went into operation August 1, 1789.

The necessity for providing a national revenue was the first consideration with the new congress.

Within seventy hours of the opening of the organization James Madison introduced the subject of the Tariff, in part by the following words: