The Founders and Free Trade: The Foreign Commerce Power and America’s National Interest
The American Founders believed that the authority to regulate trade was a necessary tool of foreign policy. They saw that free trade among nations is to be desired, but they also thought that it could only be established if the government had a power to counteract the restrictive policies of foreign nations, thus opening their markets to American goods. They appreciated the value of commercial connections to other countries, but they also thought that America should be independent as regards the goods that are truly necessary to the nation’s security. They granted the federal government a power to regulate foreign trade, yet they saw the dangers in such a power and took steps to ameliorate them.