Talk:Morrill Tariff

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Alfred Marshall quote[edit]

Question - Is Marshall actually talking about the U.S. Morrill Tariff policy of the 1860's? The quote you added is general. It just talks about Britain protecting its own industries - not America. Could you give some more of it to show why it belongs here? - JM —Preceding unsigned comment added by Justin Morrill (talkcontribs) 03:06, 16 February 2006 (UTC)

Timeline Clear?[edit]

The article states that the tariff was adopted under Buchanan. Then it says it only passed because Southern states had succeeded and did not vote. Both may be correct, but it causes confusion to a reader new to the topic.

The version now is the best I've seen so Far[edit]

Gentlemen, we are getting to a version of this page that looks good, is accurate, represents the debate and has square references to enlist the curiosity of the reader and to back what is said. The British debate to me is of little importance. This is a tariff in American History. The British were at that time still one of leading competitors and many during that time did not trust them. Marx said it was slavery, so what. So have many mainstream historians over the years (by mainstream, the mass of historians attribute the leading cause of the Civil War to Slavery). Marx, also said there would be an workers revolt in Germany and that nation would be one of the first to go Communist. He was wrong. Just like when Smith stated in the Wealth of Nations that the new US Republic would not become a manufacturing power because it had a natural propensity for agriculture. He was wrong, we proved him wrong after 1861 (starting with this Tariff). My contention is that it was both, as per the references on this page. The South disliked protective tariffs because it refused to industrialize and was to reliant on export. It's plantation culture kept them backwards. Their Constitution was modeled on the US Constitution with two notable exceptions...they eliminate 'to promote the General Welfare' out of their preamble, and restricted the use of protective tariffs to revenue only per their Congressional powers; thus this and the slave system reliant on this were causes. Historic fact is important. The opinions of historians vary, as with any topic. What do the facts say, that's important. --Northmeister 18:20, 15 February 2006 (UTC)

I think the best way to view this article is being separated into two parts. The first part is by far the most important - it tells the basic facts of what the Morrill Tariff was and what it did like Northmister recommends. This is the history of the Morrill Tariff as it happened. This is the emphasis of sections 1, 2, and 3. Section 4 can be viewed as the second part of this article. It has little to do with the way the Morrill Tariff was passed but should be viewed as a discussion of how people reacted to it and all the various views. These are less important and shouldn't be the article's main thrust. There function in there though is to give the reader a glimpse of some of the stuff that has been written about the Morrill Tariff though so he can pursue it if he wants. It is important to know that the Morrill Tariff pissed off Great Britain, but it is more important to know what the Morrill Tariff was first. That's why the first half of this article is before it. I am confident now that any reader who was interested in the British response could now go research Dickens or Lord Palmerston on his own given the introductions we have here. But he'd already have sufficient background on what the Morrill Tariff is and does since the first part of the article takes care of that. - JM

The article is getting better. As for Dickens, he adds zero to the debate (his letter shows he thought the Morrill tariff had been in effect long before the war.) The article is weakest still on the long-term impact of the MT. Did in fact it make much difference anywhere? How much difference did it make? That's why Marshall's 1903 analysis is so important. Rjensen 20:11, 15 February 2006 (UTC)

Keep Dickens and Marshall...I agree about Dickerns with Rjensen...but I agree with JM about organization. I don't see why it is important to take Dicken's out. You both know my opinion on the whole British inclusion, but as a matter of compromise keep both as relevant to the discussion in their proper place. --Northmeister 20:54, 15 February 2006 (UTC)

Rjensen - I just read the Dickens section again and I don't see where his letter says he thought the Morrill Tariff had been in effect long before the war. Where are you getting this from? - JM

Start fresh: WHY is so much attention paid to novelist Mr Dickens? He wrote one sentence about the Morrill Tariff in 1862, and might have written or approved an editorial that never mentions the MT. We already have excellent coverage of the British public opinion in the article.

Dickens says (1862): "But the North having gradually got to itself the making of laws and the settlement of the Tariffs, and having taxed the South most abominably for its own advantage..." That is simply false -- he assumes the high tariff had long been in place. NO: It was passed in Feb 1861 AFTER the South seceeded. So he's badly informed. This is the ONE sentence of his that mentions the MT. So he made a passing comment--so what?? How does that help inform a Wiki user? How does that explain the MT tariff? On the other hand when the leading British economist makes a considered judgment in 1903 about the long-term impact of the MT rates, then that is worthy of telling our users. Rjensen 21:03, 15 February 2006 (UTC)

I took out ending statement on Dickens as not helpful. Added the word's 'weighed in' to the Marshall section. --Northmeister 21:22, 15 February 2006 (UTC)

OK how's this. Keep the editorial and attribute to Dickens, but drop the long footnote and the long list of cites to Dickens scholarship. People interested in Morrill Tariff will not want to be misled into looking into those books on Dickens.Rjensen 21:39, 15 February 2006 (UTC)

I think that is reasonable right in line with presenting the facts without distracting from the article. What do you say JM? --Northmeister 22:21, 15 February 2006 (UTC)

R Jensen - I think you are seriously mistaking or misrepresenting that quote as an error of Dickens. Nothing there appears to assume that the Morrill Tariff had been in place and Dickens sure doesn't say that. He was probably complaining about the "Tariff of Abominations" of 1828 ("having taxed the South most abominably") and thus can be interpreted as likening that law to the Morrill Tariff. You also keep repeating the lie that Dickens' editorial "never mentions the Morrill Tariff" but go read above and you'll see it is right there - the article's TITLE was "The Morrill Tariff."

About its authorship - I agree that all those footnote things were probably too long. So what you and Northmeister suggest is fine. What should be said is that the editorial represented Dickens' views since it was in his newspaper where he had control of the editorial. This is like saying the unsigned editorials in any newspaper today represent the views of their editorial boards. When the New York Times runs an unsigned editorial criticizing Justice Alito it means that the New York Times' editorial board believes that about Alito. - JM

  • Tax "historian" Charles Adams seems to have started this whole Marx vs Dickens "debate". He uses the scary Marx & the popular Dickens not because they were especially relevant or qualified, but seemingly because the very mention of their names arouse emotions. Back when I first came here, the quote was assertively attributed to Dickens, while Marx was heavily criticized. Problem is Dickens almost certainly did NOT write it - though no doubt he approved it. I went to considerable effort to research this issue, but would still be willing to see it disappear - EXCEPT
    • the "M-D debate" is now part of the literature that many people who come here will have already read,
    • We can expect others to come here & try to re-insert a direct attribution of the quote to Dickens if his name still appears in the article.
    • If Dickens is mentioned at all, the footnote should stay - otherwise the reader is being either mislead or left wondering why he is there at all. Footnotes are not part of the main text and anyone who does not want to read that detail can easily skip over it. - perhaps it belongs better in a Charles Adams article, with a link here & NO mention of Dickens --JimWae 03:29, 16 February 2006 (UTC)
Dickens now is shown as a representative of British public opinion. To that extent it's not controversial--or revealing, and does not need a footnote at all. If people want the history of the Wiki article, it's all here at a click. The article is about the Morrill tariff and people who are interested in Dickens are likely to go to the Dickens article, or the many sub-articles on his books, rather than to an article on American economic policy. Rjensen 03:55, 16 February 2006 (UTC)
  • The "british debate" section is incoherent - 2 views emerged - but two views are not presented yet. There were 2 views on the causes of the war, and there may have been 2 views on the appropriateness of the tariff. The section gives one view on the tariff and 1.5 views on the causes of the war. -- but mostly there were 2 views on which side to support. --JimWae 04:51, 16 February 2006 (UTC) --- and which of these 2 sides does a 1903 commentary relate to--JimWae 04:54, 16 February 2006 (UTC) -- For Dickens, the choice of quotes is between something he published but did not write, or something he wrote but did not publish --JimWae 05:03, 16 February 2006 (UTC)
Good point about the incoherence--I tried to fix it. Rjensen 05:04, 16 February 2006 (UTC)

Major Rewrite[edit]

Hello - I seldom get into edits like these but found it necessary in this case. I came to this article this evening in search of a quick reference and encountered a cluttery mess. The existing prose was simply atrocious. It contained repetition of the same material in places scattered all over the article, cases of tit-for-tat points of view, and all sorts of strange digressions into topics that are barely related to the article, if even at all. There were all forms of unrelated side tangents about Alfred Marshall's opinion of British-American trade, Charles Dickens' use of ghostwriters, and cluttery quotes by competing historians.

I removed or shortened most of these because they were simply so distracting.

The history of the Morrill Tariff itself was also neglected amidst all this clutter. I did my best to fill in the gaps of the timeline.

The article was clumsily arranged with many repetitive sections and little flow between them. I reformatted these, eliminated the clutter, and placed things into a more logical order.

I do not mean to trod upon anyone's prior work, but a major rewrite was necessary to make this article into a somewhat encyclopedic narrative. It is still imperfect and I hope others will pick up where I left off. Sincerely, JFSimmons (talk) —Preceding undated comment was added at 05:39, 30 September 2008 (UTC).

Edit Warring over OR, POV, and Fringe Material[edit]

Three separate editors have now reverted material added by Mgpthoc aka IP The paragraph that keeps getting inserted is as follows:

Georgia and Texas secession documents outline many other reasons for secession such as federal money supporting northern projects and illegal’s crossing border. It is estimated that the South paid upwards of 75% of federal monies. Lincoln mentioned how would he finance federal government if South left. Prominent economist Walter E Williams says South fought against an overbearing federal government that was implementing high tariffs disproportionately affecting South. The real proof that War was about overbearing federal control is seen that the upper 7 Southern States did not secede until Lincoln called for troops to invade lower South and Morrill’s high tariff was passed in March 1861 before they left union. (

The problems with the above are numerous

  1. The spin on the Georgia and Texas documents, which overwhelmingly refer to slavery issues, is not supported by any reliable source. Rather than making his own interpretation of the documents, Mgpthoc needs to provide a reliable secondary source that claims the documents were really about “other reasons for secession.”
  2. The “75% of federal monies” is frequently cited by the Lew Rockwell crowd but it has no basis in fact. Reliable sourcing is lacking.
  3. Walter Williams is not a reliable source with regards to Civil War history. Whatever he may have published in the economic field, his Civil War writing is limited to political blogs.
  4. ”The real proof that War was about overbearing federal control ...” is simply Mgpthoc’s opinion. He/she needs to cite actual historians who believe this was really a tariff war.
  5. Since the entire subject is, at best, a small minority opinion, the already existing single reference to DiLorenzo is more than adequate to represent this opinion -- although one can seriously debate DiLorenzo's status as a reliable source.

In any event, wikipedia works by consensus and until a consensus is reached that this material meets wikipedia standards (an impossible task in my opinion) it needs to remain out. Rather than further edit warring, Mgpthoc and his/her sock puppet IP need to make their case on this discussion page. Tom (North Shoreman) (talk) 12:11, 24 June 2010 (UTC)

You seem to have taken a whole page of actual information of historical data, try to condense into “paragraph” and titled it “historiography” trying to make it “fit” reason promoted and implied justification of Lincoln supporters such as McPherson who promoted “slavery main reason” version of War.
1 a : the writing of history; especially : the writing of history based on the critical examination of sources, the selection of particulars from the authentic materials, and the synthesis of particulars into a narrative that will stand the test of critical methods b : the principles, theory, and history of historical writing
Yet you are refusing to acknowledge current historical/economist such as Walter E Williams. There are others, Thomas Sowell, Kelly Barrow, Grisson, the Kennedy brothers, Jefferson Davis (who was there), etc.
You try to take 4 months leading up to War with “certain” articles and edited secession documents to make whole case for slavery and adding into a topic on Morrill Tariff. Yet this ignores the previous 40+ years of debates of tariffs, threats, murderous insurrections, etc, etc. AH Stephens was not the only person to reference what caused war (yet is always the one y’all pull out “cornerstone” speech, yet ignore the rest of WHOLE speech)
Lincoln clearly stated war and economic issues. One week NYT and he were ready to “let South go” until next week when free trade proclamation was issued the next. Then attitudes of collections of tariffs changed. Hence Morrill Tarriff passed in March 1861 BEFORE upper South left.
So does your “historiography” analysis stand? I think if you are going to try to imply “most” as you have written then you have to provide proof, which you have not done, except to mention only two to support your theory. One of which has a clear bias as he was from north, grew up with yankee soldiers and wrote same things over and over.
This is same man who thought is so important to re-write Forward in Jefferson Davis’ 1st Volume of Rise and Fall and in the 2nd volume leave Davis’ totally out. Why? McPherson was trying to imply Davis, who by firsthand account and experience didn’t know what he was writing about, yet McPherson decades after event did??
Or in new Gettysburg Museum, Davis is misquoted on entrance door – with one important part left out – as if it’s not there. Or in every federal museum it is required to “teach” slavery as first stop.
Just as in all government schools today, Tariffs are rarely discussed, but slavery is covered over and over.
“Say enough” does make a thing true. So trying to justify “war over slavery” and laying Morrill Tariff aside in this article is “you” bringing in things that are “off topic.”
I will concur that first source by Walter E Williams may be “off-topic” as it is not specific to “tariff.” So if you going to allow sources citing slavery as cause that is off-topic are you going to allow others that also do? Mr Williams has clearly referenced his sources which are easily found, even in Wiki – as that is most of based on original sources given leading up to your “historiography.” —Preceding unsigned comment added by Mgpthoc (talkcontribs) 15:08, 24 June 2010 (UTC)
The references to slavery are appropriate since they refute the extreme minority claim by DiLorenzo regarding tariffs. Your personal opinions asside, McPherson (as well as Nevins) is treated as a reliable source because his numerous scholarly articles and peer reviewed books are widely accepted, reviewed, and quoted within the historical community. The same cannot be said for the sources you are pushing. Williams, as far as I can tell, has NEVER written a scholarly journal article on any Civil War related subject.
Tariffs are simply not treated by current, serious historians of the era as a cause of the war. Any mention AT ALL may be overdoing it but your proposal to expand this treatment is a clear violation of a NPOV -- see WP:UNDUE which states:
Wikipedia should not present a dispute as if a view held by a small minority deserved as much attention overall as the majority view. Views that are held by a tiny minority should not be represented except in articles devoted to those views. To give undue weight to the view of a significant minority, or to include that of a tiny minority, might be misleading as to the shape of the dispute. Wikipedia aims to present competing views in proportion to their representation in reliable sources on the subject. This applies not only to article text, but to images, wikilinks, external links, categories, and all other material as well. Tom (North Shoreman) (talk) 15:58, 24 June 2010 (UTC)


As it's written right now the historiography section is a bit of an oversimplified mess & not really up to date at all. This article should steer clear of broad sweeping statements about nonexistent "consensuses," and amateur debates among the pop history crowd. If someone is willing to rewrite it, let me suggest the following article from the University of Texas History Department's Civil War website. [1] It provides a good summary of the actual historiographical discussion around the Morrill Tariff, summarizing the main views that are currently held by professional historians about its relation to the war. Thank you. WalkerTRW (talk) —Preceding undated comment added 20:29, 3 November 2011 (UTC).