Tariff Revision

 
After the partisan realignment of the 1890s, the Republican party controlled both houses of the Congress and the presidency.  The protectionist philosophy prevailed.  The nation was prosperous, and Republican leaders had little reason to doubt that the tariff had led to prosperity, the "full dinner pail."   (Americans at this time commonly carried their lunch to work in a "dinner pail.")
The prosperity did not continue, however.  The United States experienced a brief business downturn in 1904, and then the more severe "Panic of 1907."  The Panic of 1907 seriously threatened the nation's banking system and it led to a general downturn in the business cycle.  Americans were deeply concerned about their future prosperity as a result of the Panic of 1907.
A faction of Republicans, who called themselves "Progressives" and who represented farm interests in the upper Midwest, called for a downward revision of tariff rates.  Their commitment, combined with similar views among minority Democrats, meant that there was a likely majority in the Congress for tariff reform.  Action seemed inevitable.

In 1909, the newly inaugurated William Howard Taft, true to his campaign promises, called the Congress into a special session in order to conduct a thorough revision of the tariff schedules.