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Protection In Our Colleges

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Editor American Economist: You remarle in v recent issue upon the aequieseence of protectionists in the teaching of unmixed free-trade economist in our colleges. It sertainly does seem curious that these institutions, whieh are supposed to be centers of impartial scientific thought, should so long have been permitted to suppress the truths of finance that our national experience has taught us. Our pridg, as Americans, should resent the bondage in which our schools are kept to tlie selfish tyranny of Euglish thought, and public spirit should rebel against the one sided interference of our universities in politics. Two questions thus arise, which I shall here attcinpt to answer. How has ithappened tliat tlie fallacies of Cobdenism are taught as sacred gospel in söniany American (íolleges? And why have not the friends of protection interfered in tho interest of truth and of national prosperity? I observe in the flrst place that the progress of free-trade doctrine bas been largely a literary movement. The significance of this fact is easily seen svhen we consider the number of distinguished men of letters who liave allied themselves to its cause. It follows that the traditions of the schools are literary tradïtiona by which the rhetorical brilliancy of Us founders is still witnessed by ui elabórate pretence of slyle among their degenerate successors. The thralldom of our professors of economics is then but an instance of our Ion;; literary vassalage to England. Just as our poets have caught their inspiration from Wordsworth and Tennyson, and just as our crities have bowed before the great names of Oarlyle and Matthew Arnold, so our academie economists have yielded to the magniflcently penned sophistries of such men as John Smart Mili. But now the questiou seems doubly pressing, - why have not our clearbrained politicians and men of business who have learned fhiance, not from literary traditions, but from the public and private profitand-loss-account- why have they, as regents and supporters of our colleges, not iuterfered in behalf of truth and justice, and seen to it that protection was fairly represented in the lecture-room? There have been two reasous. The first has been a generous sentimentality ; kuowing that truth is certain to conquer at last, they have hesitated to force matters. The second reason is more practical: the hann done has not been very great. For mark this fact : Though the professors throughout the country have been so largely free-traders, their students have heen ardent protectionists. In truth, the last person to whoni tlie bright young thinker would look for political guidance is bis professor of political economy. The student is not slovv to discover tne narrowuess of bis instructor's mental horizon or to notice how many of bis text books bear the iinpress of a Londou publisher. It is from the practical expeiieuce oL his business friends as well as trom the writings of Ainericans, wlio sliow that they understaud American conditions, that he is wüling to learn politics. Moreover, the admirable organization of the republican party is itself a power ful allurenient to young ambition ; an ouce within the ranks the influencea for good are to strong for backsliders to be other than rare. This, I believe, is why protectionist have troubled themselves so little abou the teachings of free-trade doctrines iu the universities. THe point is none the less well taken that the men who sup port colleges and the men who sent their sous t college, have a right t demand that a fair statement be gTvei of the grounds and the effecta of pro tection in the United States. Sax Franc isco, April 9, 1897. American Economist.


Old News
Ann Arbor Courier