The American System

The American System

The American System, a system devised, named, and campaigned for by Henry Clay, encompassed three points intended to unify the nation and move agriculture and industry into a state of harmony. The first point was the Tariff of 1816, which was notable for being the first tariff passed by the U.S. Congress. The tariff taxed foreign goods in an effort to increase the production of domestic goods. The second point was the establishment of a national bank, the Second Bank of United States. The bank was modeled after the First Bank of the United States, and like its predecessor, the Second Bank was a flop, undergoing liquidation 22 years later. The third point was the development of better infrastructure, including roads and canals, intended to tie the road together. Jackson vehemently opposed this point, however, and vetoed Congress's attempt to let the federal government buy stock in the Maysville Road Company in what became known as the Maysville Road Veto.

On the American System

"Despite its frequent histrionic outbursts, its penchant for overkill, its wrongheadedness about southern interests and concerns, its statistical errors, its irrelevancies, and its overtly insincere courtesies it was a masterful speech, one of Clay's more triumphant efforts at influencing the minds and votes of his colleagues. It buttressed logical arguments with statistical data, all compellingly presented with humor, grace, passion, a touch of sarcasm here and there, and the force of personality and language." -Remeni

This analysis by Robert Remeni, Clay's modern biographer sheds light on hoes he mindset of Clay himself as well as his supporters. Clay is doubtlessly a fantastic orator, but his plan was supported by hard logic and statistics as well. Like all politics, it had its own share of misinformation, but by and large, this historical analysis shows that Clay's plan was one which had strong support in both the political and logical sense.

Tarriff of 1816

Comment Stream