Thursday, June 14, 2012

Implements and Tariffs: John McDougall vs. the National Policy, 1887

A curious letter of 17 May 1887, from one Duane H. Nash of Millington, New Jersey, to the Reverend John McDougall shows an interesting instance of one American manufacturer's response to the Canadian tariff.  The National Policy tariff had been in place for the better part of decade, hoping to foster Canadian industry, by charging prohibitive levies on American machinery crossing the border.


The American Agriculturalist 1883
Mr. Nash, of the Acme Pulverizing Harrow company, wrote in response to the Reverend McDougall of Morleyville, NWT, that the prices that McDougall had seen quoted were wrong for the North-west Territories.  Nash notes that in response to the Dominion's tariffs, he slashed his prices by $4, bringing the two horse harrow down to $14, and the three-horse harrow down to $17.  As Nash wrote of this tactic, "This is exceedingly low - too low - and there is little or no money in it for me, but owing to the excessive duty levied by your Government I am willing to sell this year at about cost for the purpose of getting them well started there." (McDougall Family Fonds, Glenbow Museum)

It seems that at least one manufacturer was willing to reduce his profits to establish a market in Canada for agricultural implements.  Perhaps Nash was waiting for a new administration to lower tariffs and reap the rewards of his established product.  Unfortunately for Nash, the 1891 Liberal flirtation with unrestricted reciprocity, (essentially free trade between the US and Canada), would come to naught, and both parties would continue on their protectionist course for some time.

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