Were Tariffs Indirectly a Redistribution of the Wealth?

by Al Benson Jr.

Those who are in a rush to paint slavery as the one and only cause of the War of Northern Aggression do not care to talk about the tariff issue. Like the presence of the Forty-Eighters in the Union Army and in the Republican Party, tariffs, as a major cause of the War is a non-subject. They’d prefer not to talk about that because to do so deflects attention from the slavery issue, and all good cultural Marxists realize that nothing, but nothing, must detract from the slavery issue.

Years ago I did an article on the War for the old Sierra Times website and mentioned how the tariff issue had affected it. I got back a sarcastic email from a typical Yankee/Marxist type that said: “Tariffs are a dead letter–period!” Suffice it to say that he and I disagreed, but I think he was more interested in influencing those who read my article than me. The thought that anyone would dare to consider any other cause for the War than slavery really ticked him off.

However, much to his chagrin, there were other causes. One of the major ones was the tariffs.

In his authoritative book The South Under Siege–1830-2000 author Frank Conner made some very good points concerning the tariff. In mentioning what Northern manufacturers wanted the federal government to do for them, Frank noted that, from the federal government they wanted “a taxpayer-funded national transportation network.”  They also wanted taxpayer subsidies and they wanted the banking laws changed so that industry would be given preference over agriculture. Frank noted that they wanted lots more than that, but those were the main items. As you can see, corporate fascism was alive and well in the 1860s and before.

Frank observed that: “To get what they wanted, the Northern capitalists  would have to transform the U.S. into a nation-state with a federal government that had enough funds to build the transportation network, and enough power to run roughshod over a recalcitrant South. The power would have to come (eventually) from a majority in Congress and a presidential administration sympathetic to the capitalists. The funding would have to come from protective tariffs on goods imported into the U.S….The Northern capitalists demanded an extremely high tariff rate covering most imports, for three reasons.  First. with a high tariff in place, the Northern manufacturers could overprice their goods in the firm knowledge that the competing low-priced British goods–with the tariffs added–would then be more expensive than theirs.  Second, the Southerners bought most of the manufactured goods imported from Britain, largely because they sold most of their cotton to Britain; thus–by paying the tariff–the Southerners paid most of the cost of running the U.S. government. (In 1860, for example, just four of the Southern states paid 50% of the total import-tariffs collected in the U.S. that year, and all of the Southern states were paying about 85% of the cost of running the federal government). By increasing the tariff rates, the North could force the South to pay most of the costs of the U.S. government’s industrialization program–a program which would benefit the North tremendously, and the South not at all.” Seems to me that a program benefiting the North at the expense of the South is, indirectly, a redistribution of the wealth. To sum up, Frank observed: “Under a government policy of high tariffs, the Northern capitalists could not lose and the South could not win.” Sort of on the idea of you being responsible for paying your neighbors property taxes for the next hundred years!

This truth that Frank so forcefully brought out was just recently reinforced in an article by Tom M. Root which appeared in Confederate Veteran magazine for March/April of 2016. The name of Mr. Root’s excellent article was Admiral Semmes and “Those People.” Mr. Root noted, on page 26 of the magazine that: “…the North was not fighting to end slavery. The Yankee was fighting to enforce involuntary union in order to continue the egregious policy of plundering the South through high protective tariffs. Despoiling the South to enrich the North was the manifest economic program of the nationalist Lincoln and the Republican Party…The inconvenient truth was the Yankee could not bear to give up his addiction to the sweets of a high tariff which had nourished Northern infrastructure for more than forty years. Secession meant economic independence and free trade for the South, but economic calamity for the North, no longer able to fatten on the imposts.”

Rabid abolitionist Charles Sumner from the great state of Taxachusetts was once asked if Massachusetts could govern Georgia  better than Georgia could. To this he responded without the least hesitation “That is Massachusetts’ mission.” That one statement alone give you more than a slight hint as to where the Yankee?Marxist mindset was really at–and Sumner wasn’t alone in that sentiment. Do you begin to see now why I call them Yankee/Marxists?

So, did the tariff contribute to redistribution of Southern wealth to the North? Of course it did. Redistribution of the wealth was and is a Marxist concept–they plot your destruction and hope you are stupid enough to be willing to pay for it–and their public education system is there to guarantee that you are.

A question people need to start asking themselves is–how influenced by Marxism was the North before the War? If you can answer that question correctly then you will be well on the way to understanding what the War was really all about.


3 thoughts on “Were Tariffs Indirectly a Redistribution of the Wealth?

  1. Al–Thanks for reminding me the Frank Conner seminal work made some very good points concerning the tariff. It has been fifteen years since I read his great work. Much more need to be said about the loss of Southern tariffs, markets, shipping, and raw materials (cotton), would have quietly lead to a total economic collapse of the North!

  2. Fred,
    Frank’s book is always worth using as a reference. He has so much info in there. It should be on everyone’s bookshelf who defends Southern and Confederate heritage. He has 7 years of his life wrapped up in the book.

  3. The question is when are Tariffs not an indirect redistribution of wealth?
    Like never.
    What is economic Liberty, free unfettered commerce, if tariffs are a condition of Liberty’s existance? Can’t have true Liberty without unfettered economic activity.
    Sure it’s redistribution of wealth, in no uncertain terms. It is the state and its actors sticking their stinking greedy fucking noses in our business so they can profit through the lousy lie of “regulating” freedom, it IS illegitimate power overs others freedom. Its called extortion and skimming by any other name. It is what organized crime syndicates do to get rich off others labor and the fruits there of.
    Tariffs are Bills of Attainder, writs of tribute to the political and corporate elite.
    It’s tyranny through economic extortion.

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