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The Evolution of U.S. Trade Policy

In the 18th century, as a brand new nation that had just fought a war, the United States needed money. The expenses of the Revolutionary War needed to be paid for. Under the Articles of Confederation, each state charged what it wished on tariffs. The central government only got what money each state decided to give it. It had no power to force the states to make sure it had the money it needed in order to function. We needed a stronger government. As soon as the new United States Constitution became active, the new government abolished the various state tariffs and set up a uniform set of tariffs. The original purpose of these tariffs was to bring money to the US government so it could operate. In order to pay for the War of 1812, tariffs were raised. As time passed, and we began to industrialize, tariffs were set to protect the new factories from competition.

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