Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAPTER VII: SUBMISSION OF THE REPUBLICANS TO THE FISCAL POLICY OF THEIR ADVERSARIES - The Comedy of Protection
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CHAPTER VII: SUBMISSION OF THE REPUBLICANS TO THE FISCAL POLICY OF THEIR ADVERSARIES - Yves Guyot, The Comedy of Protection 
The Comedy of Protection, trans. M.A. Hamilton (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1906).
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SUBMISSION OF THE REPUBLICANS TO THE FISCAL POLICY OF THEIR ADVERSARIES
Thiers attempts Protection—Sixty-two Chambers of Commerce to fourteen vote for Free Trade—Projected tariff of April, 1877—May 16—Twenty-four per cent. increase—Fiscal triumph of the defeated party.
The treaty of 1860 was anything but pleasing to the agrarians of the Faubourg Saint-Germain and the feudal manufacturers or their successors of the time of Louis Philippe, and M. Pouyer-Quertier made speeches in the Chamber on the fatal consequences of commercial treaties that were as false as they were grandiloquent: that France was not ruined by them was proved by her recovery from the fearful crisis of 1870-1871. When Thiers came into office, however, he showed that he had not abandoned the reactionary economic views he held in 1851. Dutiable articles were hunted out; a tax on raw materials was proposed, but even Thiers with all his position and prestige, could not get it passed. His suggestion to Mr. Gladstone to compromise with Free Trade principles so far as to permit him to apply the old Protectionist doctrines in spite of the treaty, was naïve enough, and in February, 1872, the National Assembly actually passed a resolution which pledged the French Government to repudiate the commercial treaties with England and Belgium. Nevertheless, the majority in the country remained true to economic freedom; when the Minister of Commerce, M. de Meaux, put the question to the vote in the Chamber there were sixty-two votes to fourteen for renewal, a result which certain speakers went so far as to say that they regarded as a step towards complete freedom. The Higher Board of Agriculture, Commerce, and Industry, composed of men with Protectionist interests, was timid, and even the Protectionist leaders, both great cotton-spinners, Pouyer-Quertier and Feray, were satisfied with a rise of 20 to 25 per cent. on the conventional tariff. On April 9, 1877, M. Teisserenc de Bort, Minister of Commerce and Agriculture, introduced a general tariff scheme, reproducing the conventional tariff, except for a 10 per cent. rise in the duties on cotton threads and textiles—a step towards freedom. Then came the political crisis, known as May 16. Marshal MacMahon having a majority in the Chamber, at the command of the Vatican dismissed the Ministry, and dissolved the Chamber with the aid of a reactionary Cabinet.1 The capitalists, mine-owners, and cotton-spinners, who have always almost, without exception, been at the head of the Protectionist party, seized the opportunity of showing their sympathy with MacMahon, to demand in return for their support a rise in the tariff, already on the table of the House. The mine-owners joined together in the issue of a manifesto. When MacMahon went down to Normandy, Pouyer-Quertier, at the head of the cotton-spinners and weavers, presented him with a Protectionist address. But the leaders of May 16th and their partisans were defeated. Political defeat ought to have brought economic defeat in its train, but the very reverse was the case. Teisserenc de Bort returned to the Ministry of Commerce and Agriculture, and instead of maintaining the tariff already on the table, he produced a new one drawn up in accordance with the petitions of Pouyer-Quertier and his allies, which contained, instead of a 10 per cent. increase on the conventional tariff for cottons, a rise of almost 24 per cent. on all manufactured goods. What was the cause of this fiscal concession to defeated opponents? And when M. Tirard, a staunch Republican with Free Trade ideas, succeeded him in office, instead of reverting to the tariff antecedent to May 16th, he adopted the later tariff. In future the Republican party made it its business to fulfil the fiscal ideals of its most pronounced opponents—those capitalist manufacturers of Orleanist or Bonapartist creation, who used their authority and their economic influence against Republicanism and Republican institutions; those landowners, legitimists almost to a man, who, descended from the émigrés, had had rich wives found for them by Jesuits in girls greedy for titles; men who spent most of the year on their estates, hand in glove with the priest, busy founding Congregation Schools for girls, and actively engaged in those conspiracies against the Republic, representing free parliamentary government, which are called Boulangism, Anti-semitism, or Nationalism.
Yves Guyot. Introduction to the “History of Italian Unity,” by Bolton King.