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Lincoln’s Economic Legacies: National Republican Platform 1860

Part 2 of a Series

Slavery, but more precisely the potential spread of slavery to new territories.

Taxes on imports, more precisely raising protectionist tariffs to increase the profitability of Northern manufacturing industries. The underlying issue was Protectionism versus Free Trade. Protectionism, however, raises costs, and harms those industries not protected. Tariffs especially harm exporters by increasing their costs, reducing the exchange value of their trading profits, and inviting additional competition and retaliatory tariffs. The net combined effects are reduced export sales and a double squeeze on profit margins. The South accounted for almost 82 percent of exports in 1860.

“Resolved: That we, the delegated representatives of the Republican electors of the United States, in convention assembled…unite in the following declarations:

1. That the history of the nation during the last four years has fully established the propriety and necessity of the organization and perpetuation of the Republican Party, and that the causes which called it into existence…demand its peaceful and constitutional triumph.

2. That the maintenance of the principles promulgated in the Declaration of Independence and embodied in the Federal Constitution, “That all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; that to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, is essential to the preservation of our Republican institutions; and that the Federal Constitution, the rights of the states, and the Union of the states, must and shall be preserved.

3. “….we denounce… threats of disunion… as an avowal of contemplated treason, which it is the imperative duty of an indignant people sternly to rebuke and forever silence.”

4. That the maintenance inviolate of the rights of the states, and especially the right of each state, to order and control its own domestic institutions according to its own judgment exclusively, is essential to that balance of power on which the perfection and endurance of our political fabric depends, and we denounce the lawless invasion by armed force of the soil of any state or territory, no matter under what pretext, as among the gravest of crimes.

Note in article 4 that the Republican Platform did NOT advocate interfering with slavery in the Southern States. Their concern was to limit its spread to Northern States or new territories.

5. “That the present Democratic Administration has far exceeded our worst apprehension in its… exactions of a sectional interest, as is especially evident in its desperate exertions to force the infamous Lecompton constitution upon the protesting people of Kansas ….”

Note: The Territory of Kansas submitted two competing constitutions seeking statehood to Congress. The 1857 Lecompton Constitution allowed slavery. The 1859 Wyandotte Constitution prohibited it.

6. The sixth article accuses the Democrats of “reckless extravagance” in fiscal policy.

7. That the new dogma that the Constitution of its own force carries slavery into any or all of the territories of the United States, is a dangerous political heresy at variance with the explicit provisions of that instrument itself, [and]… is revolutionary in its tendency and subversive of the peace and harmony of the country.

8. That the normal condition of all the territory of the United States is that of freedom; that as our republican fathers…ordained that no “person should be deprived of life, liberty or property, without due process of law,” it becomes our duty, by legislation, whenever such legislation is necessary, to maintain this provision of the constitution against all attempts to violate it; and we deny the authority of congress, of a territorial legislature, or of any individuals, to give legal existence to slavery in any territory of the United States.

9. That we brand the recent re-opening of the African Slave Trade, under the cover of our national flag, aided by perversions of judicial power, as a crime against humanity, and a burning shame to our country and age, and we call upon congress to take prompt and efficient measures for the total and final suppression of that execrable traffic.[ Based on isolated, not widespread instances.]

10. That in the recent vetoes by the federal governors of the acts of the Legislatures of Kansas and Nebraska, prohibiting slavery in those territories, we find a practical illustration of the boasted democratic principle of non- intervention and popular sovereignty, embodied in the Kansas-Nebraska bill, and a demonstration of the deception and fraud involved therein.

11. “That Kansas should of right be immediately admitted as a state….”

12. That while providing revenue for the support of the general government by duties upon imports, sound policy requires such an adjustment of these imposts as to encourage the development of the industrial interests of the whole country, and we commend that policy of national exchanges which secures to the workingmen liberal wages, to agriculture remunerating prices, to mechanics and manufacturers an adequate reward for their skill, labor and enterprise, and to the nation commercial prosperity and independence.

In May of 1860, the House of Representatives had passed the Morrill Tariff, which would increase overall average tariff rates from 16 to 26 percent by 1862 and to 33 percent by 1865. Lincoln won the Republican nomination pressing for a substantial tariff increase, and campaigned hard for it in the general election. On September 27, 1860, Representative Thaddeus Stevens, the most powerful Republican in Congress and a cosponsor of the Morrill Tariff, told a large New York crowd that the two most important issues in the election were preventing the extension of slavery and an increase in the tariff, but of the two,, the tariff increase was the most important. To be continued.

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