Jul 15, 4:45 PM EDT Newsletter Signup BusinessTechnologyWorldNationalMedia & CultureOpinionSportsLuxury Opinion By Jeffrey Kucik 07/04/19 AT 12:24 AM President Donald Trump’s trade wars have sparked fierce debate about the role of protectionism versus liberalism in U.S. trade with other countries.This debate is hardly new. It dates all the way back to America’s founding.As a political economist interested in the historical foundations of modern U.S. trade policy, I think it’s worth revisiting that history.Freedom and free tradeThe Declaration of Independence, written in 1776, contains a long list of grievances against King George III.The most famous refers to taxation without representation – although that exact phrase doesn’t actually appear in the text. Less well-remembered is the complaint that he “[cut] off our trade with all parts of the world.”There was plenty of trade during the Colonial period. But none of it was free. England, like all colonial powers at the time, maintained exclusive control over valuable goods like sugar, cotton and tobacco that the Colonies produced.To the founders, this arrangement left the Colonies poorer. They had goods other countries wanted. English rule prevented the Colonies from capitalizing, quite literally, on those opportunities.Given the declaration’s statement, you might conclude that the founders were ardent free traders, influenced by John Locke’s ideas about property rights, Adam Smith’s criticisms of… Read full this story
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