World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Walker tariff

The Walker Tariff was a set of tariff rates adopted by the United States in 1845. The Walker Tariff was enacted by the Democrats, and made substantial cuts in the high rates of the "Black Tariff" of 1842, enacted by the Whigs. It was based on a report by Secretary of the Treasury Robert J. Walker. The Walker Tariff reduced tariff rates from 32% to 25%; it coincided with Britain's repeal of the Corn Laws and led to an increase in trade. It was one of the lowest tariffs in American history.


  • Adoption 1
  • Impact 2
  • References 3
  • External links 4


Democrat James K. Polk was elected President in 1844 over Whig Party (United States) Henry Clay, a high tariff advocate.

President Polk declared that reduction of the "Black Tariff" would be the first of the "four great measures" that would define his administration. He directed Walker to work out the details. In 1846, Polk delivered Walker's tariff proposal to Congress. Walker urged its adoption in order to increase commerce between the U.S. and Britain. He also predicted that a reduction in tariff rates would stimulate trade, including imports. The result, asserted Walker, would be a net increase in customs revenue despite the reduced rates.

Congress, then controlled by Democrats, acted quickly on Walker's recommendations. Southern Democrats, who had little industry in their states, were especially supportive.

The Walker Tariff produced the nation's first standardized tariff: rather than setting fixed rates for specific items on a case-by-case basis, it established general schedules into which all goods could be classified, subject to defined ad valorem rates. The bill reduced rates across the board on most major import items save luxury goods such as tobacco and alcoholic beverages.


The bill made moderate reductions in many tariff rates. As Walker had predicted, trade increased substantially, and net revenue collected also increased, from $30 million annually under the Black Tariff in 1845 to almost $45 million annually by 1850. It also improved relations with Britain that had soured over the Oregon boundary dispute.

It was passed along with a series of financial reforms proposed by Walker including the Warehousing Act of 1846. The 1846 tariff rates initiated a fourteen-year period of relative free trade by nineteenth century standards lasting until the high Morrill Tariff of 1861.

The Walker Tariff remained in effect until the Tariff of 1857, which used it as a base and reduced rates further.

The 1861 Morril Tariff raised the effective rate collected on dutiable imports by approximately 70%. Customs revenue from tariffs totaled $345 million from 1861 through 1865.[1]


  1. ^ Markham, Jerry (2001). A financial history of the United States. vol 3. p. 220. 

External links

  • (1912)Tariff History of the United StatesTaussig, Frank.
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.