Laurent LE MAUX

« Monnaie, protectionnisme et démocratie : la Reconstruction aux États-Unis »

Laurent Le Maux est Professeur des universités en sciences économiques à l’Université de Bretagne occidentale.


In the aftermath of England’s Glorious Revolution of 1688, which introduced representative democracy to Europe, the English parliament adopted both a tariff protection policy from 1690 onward to counter competition from French manufactures, and a strong currency policy from 1696 onward to anchor agents’ expectations once and for all. A century and a half later, the United States went down the same road. The “Second” American Revolution that began with the Civil War (1861–1865) and continued with Reconstruction (1865–1877) aimed at extending Civil Rights. At the same time, the 1861 Tariff Act was designed to protect U.S. industries from British competition and the 1865 Contraction Act subsequently initiated the strong currency policy. The same sequence on both sides of the Atlantic is fascinating and it is hard to imagine it is no more than a coincidence. The literature on these issues has not significantly explored the articulation between monetary policy and trade policy and we propose here to examine the coherency of the economic choice about money and tariffs in the United States during Reconstruction. In this respect, the present paper examines the economic conditions, political coalitions, and the money and tariff combination of Reconstruction. It builds a matrix that rests upon a double dichotomy with respect to both money (hard versus soft money) and tariffs (protectionism versus free trade). It then produces an original analysis in terms of policy mix (hard money and protectionism, soft money and free trade) with which to investigate the conditions and coherency of the Republican administration’s monetary regime and industrialization policy.

La communication a été faite sur la base des deux articles suivants.

Revue d’Economie Politique:

Revue d’Economie Financière