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The Antebellum Tariff on Cotton Textiles Revisited

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  • Douglas A. Irwin
  • Peter Temin

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Douglas A. Irwin & Peter Temin, 2000. "The Antebellum Tariff on Cotton Textiles Revisited," NBER Working Papers 7825, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:7825
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. 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.
    2. 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.
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    Cited by:

    1. Tena-Junguito, Antonio & Lampe, Markus & Fernandes, Felipe Tâmega, 2012. "How Much Trade Liberalization Was There in the World Before and After Cobden-Chevalier?," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 72(03), pages 708-740, September.
    2. Stephen Meardon, 2007. "Postbellum Protection and Commissioner Wells's Conversion to Free Trade," History of Political Economy, Duke University Press, vol. 39(4), pages 571-604, Winter.
    3. Réka Juhász, 2014. "Temporary Protection and Technology Adoption: Evidence from the Napoleonic Blockade," CEP Discussion Papers dp1322, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
    4. Davis, Joseph H. & Irwin, Douglas A., 2008. "The antebellum U.S. iron industry: Domestic production and foreign competition," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 45(3), pages 254-269, July.
    5. Allen, Robert C., 2014. "American Exceptionalism as a Problem in Global History," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 74(02), pages 309-350, June.
    6. Douglas A. Irwin & Joseph H. Davis, 2003. "Trade Disruptions and America's Early Industrialization," NBER Working Papers 9944, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Juhász, Réka, 2014. "Temporary protection and technology adoption: evidence from the Napoleonic blockade," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 60697, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    8. Saito, Tetsuya, 2006. "Shipping the Good Apples Out: Alchian-Allen Theorem of Various Qualities," MPRA Paper 883, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 20 Nov 2006.
    9. repec:ebl:ecbull:v:6:y:2008:i:30:p:1-12 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. Carter, Colin A. & Chalfant, James A. & Yavapolkul, Navin & Carroll, Christine L., 2016. "International commodity trade, transport costs, and product differentiation," Journal of Commodity Markets, Elsevier, vol. 1(1), pages 65-76.
    11. Saito, Tetsuya, 2007. "Shipping the Good Apples Out: Another Proof with A Graphical Representation," MPRA Paper 1297, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    12. repec:oup:ereveh:v:22:y:2018:i:1:p:53-72. is not listed on IDEAS
    13. Harris, Richard & Keay, Ian & Lewis, Frank, 2015. "Protecting infant industries: Canadian manufacturing and the national policy, 1870–1913," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 56(C), pages 15-31.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • N71 - Economic History - - Economic History: Transport, International and Domestic Trade, Energy, and Other Services - - - U.S.; Canada: Pre-1913
    • F13 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Trade Policy; International Trade Organizations

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