The Tariff Dike

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The Democratic Party used the tariff as an issue to mobilize its followers.  Democrats usually agreed on the principle of free trade (a tariff for revenue needs only).   Other issues might raise emotions and divide the party's constituency.  The tariff held Democrats together.

The Democratic platform in 1912 supported a dramatic reduction in tariff duties.  Wilson spoke in favor of freer trade.  Democratic strategists thought the tariff issue provided a sure route to victory.

The Republicans attacked the Democrats on the tariff.  The Republican cartoonist suggested what Wilson's tariff policy would mean.  European goods would flood across the dike, drowning American manufacturers and American workers.