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Notes on The Memoirs of Cordell Hull
by William P. Meyers

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Page 4
Tariffs, Taxes and World War I

In the Sixty-Second (62nd) Congress in 1911 the Democrats had a majority and Hull was appointed to the powerful Ways and Means Committee. He focussed on reducing tariffs (taxes on imported goods) one-by-one, rather than trying to reduce them across the board. He wrote first drafts for iron, cotton, and farm tariff reduction bills. However, President Taft vetoed the bills. [p. 64-65]

Generally Progressive Republicans worked with Democrats to pass legislation establishing an 8 hour working day and a Department of Labor; limiting campaign expenses for Representatives and Senators; and proposing an Amendment to the Constitution making U.S. Senators uniformly directly elected by the people of their states (rather than by their state legislators). [66-67]

"The Spanish-American War was a venture in imperialism which caused a flurry of opposition in American politics, but this very soon became dormant except in Democratic platforms, and the country lapsed back into its traditional policy of isolation." When President Wilson was elected in 1912 there was no international policy issue, and no one forsaw World War I brewing. [70]

"On February 3, 1913, the constitutional amendment on income tax was ratified ... Here at last was fruition to my work and study of twenty years." The Underwood Act in October implemented the income tax and lowered tariffs. [70-71]

World War I broke out in Europe. "The income-tax had been enacted in the nick of time for the demands of the war" which hastened the enactment of the inheritance tax and the creation of the Federal Reserve System. [76]

Hull wrote the Estate Tax Act of 1916, which Wilson singed on September 8, 1916. "The execess-profits tax, in effect a graduated corporations tax," became law in 1917. [80-81]

Hull became convinced that economic rivalry and high tariff bariers were the chief cause of the wa. He opposed the colonial system and believed tarifs should be uniform internationally, not favoring any nation or group of nations. [84-85].

Hull voted for the U.S. declaration of war against Germany, based on attacks on U.S. merchant ships. [87-88]

He supports Woodrow Wilson's efforts to create and join the League of Nations, and documents the struggle with the anti-league faction in Congress. [101-104]

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