Tariff is a word that has been in the English language for over 200 years. It can be best described as a tax or duty imposed by law on imported goods, which must be paid before they are admitted into the country.
The first known use of the word was in 1704, where it referred to an import tax. Tariffs now refer to both taxes on imports and exports associated with trade barriers between nations. The term can also be used to describe other fees that are imposed by law (such as sin taxes or tolls). Congress passed a tariff act in 1828 which set rates at 20%.
This may seem like high taxation but tariffs were low during this time period because there were many manufacturers who wanted protection from foreign competition through duties and restrictions. It wasn’t until post-Civil War America when manufacturing shifted back into agriculture did these tariffs start to increase again due to lack of demand for manufactured goods overseas.