Greg offers us a nice speech by Saint Reagan. While Ronald Reagan preached free trade, Jeffrey Frankel notes that his actual record was rather protectionist. The discussion is an excellent account of how Republicans have been protectionist since 1854. But the really weird thing in Reagan’s discussion was how he claimed the U.S. has been a free trade nation since 1776. Of course Congress passed the Tariff Act of 1789:
One of the major early actions of Congress was the passage of the Tariff Act of 1789, which was designed to: raise revenues for the new government by placing a tariff on the importation of foreign goods (averaging more than 8 percent); encourage domestic production in such industries as glass and pottery by taxing the importation of those products from foreign sources.
Someone at Harvard’s history department should visit Mankiw’s office.
To be more specific in his report on Manufactures Hamilton supported protectionism, and in particular the protection of industries that were important for defense (did not want defense dependent on British Imports) . Interestingly a second major issue because of the more industrial north and the agricultural south was protectionsim with the north favoring and the south opposing, (see Tariff of Abominations and the Nullification crisis during the Jackson administration).
Hamilton is on the $10 bill. He was our first Treasury Secretary. If Mankiw does not know who Hamilton is – Harvard needs to fire him.