Between 1808 and 1832, tariff protection for New England shipping interests was the most important economic debate in the country. Though by 1860 constant resistance by the Southern States had kept rates relatively in check — and this was the primary income of the federal government — after sufficient States had seceded, the new Northern congressional majority raised tariff rates to near 50 percent. Once the new Confederate States Congress voted a virtual free tariff in early March, 1861, the “slave-importing shippers” of New England decided upon war against the South. The following was delivered by Lloyd T. Everett of the Washington [DC] Camp of the United Confederate Veterans on February 10, 1914.
Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.org
The Milk of the Cocoanut
“Mark well this fact: In the debates in Congress on the tariff dispute of 1833, John Quincy Adams, ex-President of the United States and then a member of the House of Representatives, uttered this significant remark from the floor of the House:
“But protection might be extended in different forms to different interests . . . In the Southern and Southwestern portion of the union, there exists a certain interest [by which Adams meant Negro slavery] which enjoys under the Constitution and the laws of the United States an especial protection, peculiar to itself” [i.e., return of fugitive slaves escaping from one State to another].
He referred to the slaves of the Southern States as “machinery,” and added: “If they [the Southern States] must withdraw protection from the free white labor of the North [the protection of a high tariff, Adams meant], then it ought to be withdrawn from the machinery of the South.”
Ah – here we have the milk in the cocoanut . . . In the framing of the Constitution, the North and the South – rather, New England and the far Southern States – arranged a quid pro quo, by which the shipping interests of New England obtained control, and permanent control, of commercial regulations by a mere majority vote, instead of a two-thirds majority vote, in the Congress, and the South (together with the slave-importing shippers of this same New England) defeated the possibility of prohibition of the continued importation of Negroes, temporarily, or for some nineteen years.
And now, her darling of sectional customs “protection” in danger from South Carolina’s firm stand, through John Adams as her spokesman, gave warning, in 1833, that tariff “protection,” although not guaranteed by the Constitution, and slavery protection, which was expressly guaranteed by that instrument, must be held as twin special interests, to stand or fall together.
In this light, then, these remarks of Adams, of Massachusetts, should be carefully marked and constantly borne in mind in connection with the subsequent growth and course of anti-Southern agitation, under the guise of an anti-slavery crusade, from the time – this time South Carolina’s Nullification stand and the resultant tariff reduction of 1833 – that a definite check was placed upon high tariff, North-favoring legislation.”
(Living Confederate Principles, Lloyd T. Everett, Southern Historical Society Papers, No. II, Volume XL, September 1915; Broadfoot Publishing Co., 1991, excerpts pp. 21-22)