The Writings of Abraham Lincoln, Volume 5 by Abraham Lincoln
On Protective Tariffs, to Edward Wallace.
CLINTON, October 11, 1859
Dr. EDWARD WALLACE.
MY DEAR SIR:--I am here just now attending court. Yesterday, before I left Springfield, your brother, Dr. William S. Wallace, showed me a letter of yours, in which you kindly mention my name, inquiring for my tariff views, and suggest the propriety of my writing a letter upon the subject. I was an old Henry-Clay-Tariff Whig. In old times I made more speeches on that subject than any other.
I have not since changed my views. I believe yet, if we could have a moderate, carefully adjusted protective tariff, so far acquiesced in as not to be a perpetual subject of political strife, squabbles changes, and uncertainties, it would be better for us. Still it is my opinion that just now the revival of that question will not advance the cause itself, or the man who revives it.
I have not thought much on the subject recently, but my general impression is that the necessity for a protective tariff will ere long force its old opponents to take it up; and then its old friends can join in and establish it on a more firm and durable basis. We, the Old Whigs, have been entirely beaten out on the tariff question, and we shall not be able to re-establish the policy until the absence of it shall have demonstrated the necessity for it in the minds of men heretofore opposed to it. With this view, I should prefer to not now write a public letter on the subject. I therefore wish this to be considered confidential. I shall be very glad to receive a letter from you.