Making America Great (the First Time): U.S. Economic Nationalism in Historical Perspective

Tom Wraight*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Supporters of Donald Trump often frame his protectionist policies as part of a venerable economic nationalist tradition. This paper examines the process which allowed this historical narrative to form. Examining the history of U.S. economic nationalism, it argues that during the nineteenth century, that tradition became increasingly defined by ‘tariff fixation’, an emphasis on high tariffs to the exclusion of other more effective means for supporting national development. This led the reduction of high tariffs after the 1930s to be viewed as a ‘great betrayal’ of the United States, a narrative that has been of great use to contemporary right-wing populists.
Original languageEnglish
JournalNations and Nationalism
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)66-81
Number of pages16
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2022

Bibliographical note

Published online: 14 December 2021.


  • Economic nationalism
  • United States
  • Developmentalism

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