Page:The Republican Party (1920).djvu/52

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been validated.

Construction and Reconstruction

with its accession to power and with the disposition of the two great issues of the war a new era was dawning upon the United States, second in importance only to that which was ushered in by the adoption of the Constitution; and that to meet this era and to take advantage of its conditions and opportunities new laws, new methods and new systems of administration were necessary. To the task of supplying these the Republican party through its official representatives at Washington committed itself.

One of the foremost of these needs was that of a reformed tariff system. Years before under the lead of Henry Clay the Whigs had adopted a tariff scheme on imports which afforded a certain degree of protection to American labor and encouragement to American industry. The Democrats on their return to power had abolished that and had substituted a revenue tariff void of those characteristics with the result that in 1857 the country suffered a disastrous business depression. To correct these conditions the Republicans of the House of Representatives in 1860 adopted a bill framed by Justin S. Morrill of Vermont restoring some of the features of the former Whig tariff. This was rejected by the Democratic majority in the Senate. The next year it was put forward again and finally on March 2, 1861 became law. Later it had to be materially altered to meet the fiscal exigencies of the war. Its essential principle, however, remained unchanged for many years and its effect was to cause a rapid development and immense enlargement of American Industry. Great new industries were created to supply the American people with home-made articles of indispensable use for which they had formerly been dependent upon