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President Trump's tariffs on imported steel aren't the first time the industry has gotten protection from the U.S. government. Not by a long shot. In fact, tariff protection for the industry — which politicians often say is a vital national interest — goes back to the very beginning of the republic.

In his book, Clashing Over Commerce: A History of U.S. Trade Policy, Dartmouth professor Douglas Irwin writes that protection for the metal producers began in the 1790s.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

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