Objects of the Restriction. Nations have always laid restrictions upon international commerce, and an examination of the history of such restrictions discloses at least four motives for imposing them. (1) In the first place, we may note that ancient nations, the Greeks, the Hebrews, and others, dreaded contact with foreigners, and attempted by restrictions on international trade to reduce such contact to a minimum. (2) A second very common cause of restriction has been the desire to make international trade a source of revenue. Sometimes a tax has been laid upon both exports and imports. England to-day taxes only imports, and taxes these with a view to securing the greatest possible revenue. (3) In the third place, tariffs have at times been laid with the purpose of securing a supply of the precious metals, through a so-called "favorable balance of trade." No enlightened nation now pursues this course. (4) Finally, many nations to-day regulate international commerce with the object of weakening foreign competition, in order that home producers may be encouraged and supported. Restriction for this purpose usually takes the form of laying duties upon imported commodities of a kind that can be produced in the home country. Such taxes are called protective. Collectively they form what is called a protective tariff. Home producers are said to be thus "protected" against foreign competitors. Of course in some cases it is possible that more than one or even all of the objects of regulation that have been mentioned may be sought by the country which thus regulates its commerce with other nations.

Protectionism. The general subject of protection is so vast that a complete discussion of it would fill volumes. We must be content here to study briefly the chief points in controversy between advocates and opponents of the system; to give attention to certain general considerations of importance; and to suggest what desirable changes may be made in the American tariff system upon which all should unite.

Argument of Protectionists. Protectionists argue that the system which they favor promotes nationalism, or a strong sense of national unity. Domestic trade, they say, should be encouraged because it draws the citizens of a country together, while international trade is cosmopolitan and tends rather to the separation of citizens one from another. It is argued that nationality and a strong national feeling depend upon a sense of national strength and independence, which can exist only when the nation has widely diversified industrial interests, and therefore protective duties should be levied to encourage such a diversification of industry. American protectionists insist that in a new country there exist many great natural advantages of which the inhabitants cannot avail themselves unless they are protected, at least temporarily, from the competition of foreign producers who have the advantage of long experience. The (1)diversified-natural-industry argument and the (2) protection-to-infant-industries argument the ones upon which protectionists most strongly insistare thus seen to be supplementary. Protectionists urge that the older nations, by reason of their acquired skill and capital, can destroy in their infancy any new pursuits that a younger rival is seeking to establish. Closely connected with this argument is another based upon (3) military grounds. Industrial self-sufficiency is a great aid to a nation in times of war, because such a condition lessens the distress due to naval disasters. Hence, it is claimed that nations at peace should prepare for war by protecting, nursing, and fostering the widest possible range of domestic industries. (4) The home market is also claimed to be superior because more secure less liable to the shock of war or international complications. (5) Special advantages are said by the protectionists to be conferred by their system upon farmers, who are saved the expense of long shipment when they have a sufficient market for their crops among home manufacturers. It has even been maintained by one American protectionist (6) that no nation can be permanently prosperous unless the elements taken from the soil are returned to it in the form of manure and other fertilizers, and that this process of repair is possible only when agricultural products are consumed at home. Another common protectionist argument, which has been much used since the labor movement first became prominent, is (7) that the protective tariff has been the cause of high wages paid to American labor, and that it will be necessary to maintain the protective tariff if we would maintain the high wages.

Arguments of Advocates of Free Trade. In opposition to protection it is frequently alleged (1) that protective tariffs are a violation of the "natural right" of every man to buy and sell wherever he will, untrammelled by human laws. We may dismiss this " natural-right" argument at once as "dogmatism in disguise." It is a question-begging argument, since, in the use of the word " natural," it assumes the very thing that must be proved before the argument can have weight. All history, and the opinions of all great modern thinkers, are against such an assumption. It would be well if this argument were heard more rarely.

Again, (2) it has been claimed that protective tariffs in the United States are unconstitutional. But this argument is idle and futile. The opinions of our best jurists have always maintained the constitutionality of our tariff legislation, and there is not the slightest chance that the Supreme Court will ever pronounce a protective tariff unconstitutional.

The really cogent arguments of the advocates of a tariff for revenue only are those which aim to show that, on the one hand, the protectionist policy either fails to accomplish the end sought, or is of no assistance in accomplishing the desirable object which it contemplates; and that, on the other hand, it actually does work positive injury to national interests.

In the first place, (3) they claim that protection is not necessary to the development of national feeling. In proof of their claim, they point to the fact that the last half-century, which has witnessed an unprecedented spread of international trade, has also witnessed a wonderful growth of national sentiment throughout the world.

The free-traders claim also (4) that protective tariffs are not necessary to produce diversity of industry, particularly in the case of a country like ours. It may be admitted that a purely agricultural nation is not likely to progress rapidly; but it is not easy to understand how a country so vast as ours, of so varied a climate, of boundless natural resources, can be anything but a country of diversified industry, if industry itself is left unhampered by burdensome restrictions and regulations.

The General Influence of Protective Tariffs.The free-traders insist that (5) when a new industry is started in any country as a result of a protective tariff, it is started by withdrawing or withholding the necessary capital and labor from some other industry which would naturally be more profitable, and that therefore every such new industry really means a decrease in the productiveness and wealth of the country. By way of qualification, most free-traders admit that such new industries may attract to the country some foreign capital which would otherwise be invested elsewhere, and that if such " infant industries " rapidly reach a condition of self-supporting independence, the nation may be repaid for the expense incurred in hastening the establishment of such industries. But they justly protest against applying the name " infant industries" to businesses that have received tariff protection from the country for nearly a century. Indeed, (6) the fact that "infant industries" have thus prolonged the period of their infancy, and, in some cases, have clamored for protection even when they are or should be self-supporting, furnishes one of the strongest arguments against a policy of protection. If they do not become self-supporting, they continue to hold prices up beyond a reasonable point; if they do become able to withstand competition, but still have protection, they may by combining maintain a higher price than open competition would establish. The last few years have shown beyond question that protection favors monopoly by shutting off healthful international competition. It has usually been claimed by protectionists that the competition of home producers would suffice to keep prices down. Now, however, we are confronted by the obstinate fact that in the case of a number of protected industries, combination is taking the place of competition; and home producers compete at low prices in foreign markets, while charging their countrymen such higher prices as protection enables them to exact.

The general argument of the free-traders is that with nations as with individuals each party to trade will regularly secure the greatest advantage if the trade is left unrestricted. Protection, they urge, is essentially injurious, in that it regularly diverts industry from channels by nature more productive to others by nature less productive.