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The Antebellum Tariff on Cotton Textiles Revisited

  • Douglas A. Irwin
  • Peter Temin

Recent research has suggested that the antebellum U.S. cotton textile industry would have been wiped out had it not received tariff protection. We reaffirm Taussig's judgment that the U.S. cotton textile industry was largely independent of the tariff by the 1830s. American and British producers specialized in quite different types of textile products that were poor substitutes for one another. The Walker tariff of 1846, for example, reduced the duties on cotton textiles from nearly 70 percent to 25 percent and imports soared as a result, but there was little change in domestic production. Using data from 1826 to 1860, we estimate the responsiveness of domestic production to fluctuations in import prices and conclude that the industry could have survived even if the tariff had been completely eliminated.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 7825.

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Date of creation: Aug 2000
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as Irwin, Douglas A. and Peter Temin. "The Antebellum Tariff On Cotton Textiles Revisited," Journal of Economic History, 2001, v61(3,Sep), 777-798.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:7825
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  1. Temin, Peter, 1988. "Product Quality and Vertical Integration in the Early Cotton Textile Industry," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 48(04), pages 891-907, December.
  2. Harley, C. Knick, 1992. "International Competitiveness of the Antebellum American Cotton Textile Industry," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 52(03), pages 559-584, September.
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