Teaching Students About Underwood Simmons Tariff
The Underwood-Simmons Tariff Act of 1913 represents a significant event in American economic history. As educators, it is essential to teach students valuable lessons about this act, both for historical significance and as a way to understand how tariffs shape the economic landscape even today. This article aims to provide an overview of the Underwood-Simmons Tariff Act and offer practical tips on teaching students about its importance and consequences.
Background of the Underwood-Simmons Tariff Act
Before diving into the specifics of implementing lessons about the Underwood-Simmons Tariff Act, let’s look at a brief summary of this historical event. The act, sponsored by Representative Oscar Underwood of Alabama and Senator Furnifold M. Simmons of North Carolina, sought to lower tariff rates on imported goods to the United States. It aimed to promote international trade and reduce protectionist tendencies in the American economy.
President Woodrow Wilson’s support for this tariff reform was crucial and his ultimate signing of the act into law marked a significant break from traditional Republican protectionist policies at that time. The act led to reduced prices for consumers and increased competition among businesses. However, it also faced criticism from industrialists who believed that lower tariffs would harm American businesses that relied heavily on domestic production.
Engaging Students in Discussions About the Tariff Act
One way teachers can help students better understand the importance and implications of the Underwood-Simmons Tariff Act is by organizing class discussions or debates. Presenting students with various viewpoints on the subject can encourage critical thinking about potential economic benefits and drawbacks.
For example, one group could argue in favor of tariff reduction as a means to promote international trade and benefit consumers with lower prices. Another group could argue against this policy by presenting concerns about potential job losses or a decline in domestic industry competitiveness.
Connecting to Current Events
Drawing connections between historical events and today’s world can make teaching about tariffs and the Underwood-Simmons Tariff Act more engaging and relatable. Teachers can discuss current tariff policies, such as recent trade disputes with China, to demonstrate how these negotiations remain relevant even a century later. By doing so, students can better grasp the impact of tariffs in shaping economic policies on a global scale.
Utilizing Primary Sources
Another effective way to teach students about the Underwood-Simmons Tariff Act is by incorporating primary sources, such as speeches, newspaper articles, or congressional records from the era. Analyzing these historical documents offers students insight into the perspectives and rationales of policymakers during that time, while also exposing them to the language and communication styles in early 20th-century America. Teachers can encourage students to compare these sources with contemporary reports on tariffs to identify similarities or differences in policy debates throughout history.
Teaching students about major economic events like the Underwood-Simmons Tariff Act is crucial for developing critical thinking skills and promoting a better understanding of how policies shape national and international trade. By utilizing engaging teaching methods such as class debates and primary source analysis, students gain both historical context and insight into the perennial relevance of tariffs within global economic systems.