Stephen Colwell argued that a high tariff could produce a moral political economy in an industrializing United States. He suggested that by providing industrial workers with wages higher than the international market would allow, the policy acted on Christian sensibility and its charge to protect the weak. Yet Colwell could not decide on exactly how the tariff would do so and his struggle revealed complexity and tension within an important element of the American statebuilding project. He moved from a vision of a robust state protecting workers against predatory merchants to a definition of the tariff as an implement of a circumscribed, associative state that relied on manufacturers to act as its partners. Realizing that they might decline to protect workers by passing the tariff 's profits along as higher wages, he admitted that the state relied on industrialists' goodwill to make the measure effective.
VandeCreek, Drew, "Mixed Feelings: Stephen Colwell, Christian Sensibility, and the American State, 1841-1861" (2018). Faculty Peer-Reviewed Publications. 516.
Historical Society of Pennsylvania/University of Pennsylvania Press