• Wool Tariff, America's First Protectionist Legislation; Chester Arthur's Lobbyist Reports on Progress -- Research Included

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    When the Civil War closed, the U.S. was faced with having to pay down its indebtedness. Some favored continuing taxation at the war time level. A conservative view prevailed as it was realized that continuing war time taxation would hamper economic development. The demand for woolen goods had diminished after the disbandment of the army. Further price depression occurred when the government sold great quantities of garments accumulated during the war but were no longer needed. In January 1866, wool trade associations struck a bargain. The manufacturers wrote a tariff schedule that increased duties on imported wool and gave compensatory duties to manufacturers to offset the extra cost on imported wool. Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee Justin Morrill of Vermont included the associations verbatim in the general tariff bill of 1866. Although the bill died in the Senate, its wool and woolens schedule survived as a separate bill, passed both chambers, was signed into law by a reluctant President Andrew Johnson, becoming the first protectionist legislation to reach the statute books after the Civil War.

    JOHN L. HAYES was secretary of The National Association of Wool Manufacturers and highly instrumental in helping to forge the schedule. He spent a good deal of time monitoring the tariff and lobbying congress for this important legislation. Hayes was a prolific writer whose published works include "The Knit-Goods Industry and The Tariff," published in 1881, in which he discusses at length the wool and woolen goods tariff and his involvement as the chief negotiator in this success story. Hayes was extremely well known and respected and was appointed by President Chester Arthur to study the tariff issue. Research is included.

    Offered is a ALS by Hayes, reporting on his progress of his lobbying congressional lobbying efforts six months before the law was passed when the situation seemed dismal. 7 x 10, 2 pp, June 17th, 1866, Hayes reports to Walter Hastings, Esq. of Boston. Hayes writes from The Ebbitt House, a boarding house, where many of Who's Who in America stayed or frequented and where he was staying while working on the tariff.

    "I have no definitive progress on our cause to report. The Committee of Ways & Means are still engaged upon iron and our matter has not been regularly taken up. Mr. Rumsbury & myself have occupied ourselves in working with individual members of the Committee. We have as yet received no definite assurance from Mr. Morrill [Congressman Justin Morrill, head of the Ways and Means Committee, who was instrumental in the passage of tariff legislation.] and we fear him more than any other person as we suspect that he is desirous of showing to wool farmers that he has reduced the demands of the manufacturers. We shall have more definite information tomorrow. Mr. Colwell is of the opinion that we shall secure our bill mainly as proposed. The utmost reduction that I fear is five or ten cents on our specific duty as Mr. Morrill admits that the duties on manufacturers must be measured with the duties on wool, although at present he objects to the two items 2 cents for drys & drystuffs and the charges $4.85 cents. If these should be struck off, the specific duty would be reduced to 46 cents. We have insisted and shall insist upon the bill as matured by the Executive Committee. I shall send to you by Mr. Rose a draft upon you for one hundred dollars which my wife requires. I trust that you will find it convenient to pay it. I should be glad to hear from you. Yours truly John L. Hayes"

    Folds and light toning, but overall excellent. Very fine post-Civil War tariff Americana.

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