Henry Clay’s American System



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The American System was a program for economic development championed by Henry Clay

Clay was an American lawyer, politician and skilled orator who represented Kentucky in both the United States Senate and House of Representatives. He served three different terms as Speaker of the House of Representatives and was also Secretary of State from 1825 to 1829. He lost his campaigns for president in 1824, 1832 and 1844.

“But if we throw our ports wide open to the ad­mis­sion of for­eign pro­duc­tions, free of all duty, what ports of any other for­eign na­tion shall we find open to the free ad­mis­sion of our sur­plus pro­duce?” Henery Clay.

The plan was to strengthen and unify the government. There were three parts to Henry Clay’s American System. Henry Clay’s American System includes internal improvements, protective tariffs, and chartering the Second bank of United States. Under the American System the government would deposit its funds in the bank, accept bank’s notes as payments for government land, taxes, and other transaction. Also, under the American System the government would buy 1/5 of the bank’s stocks. Protective tariffs were put increasing the taxes of imported goods from Britain, so consumers were forced to buy American-made products. These tariffs allowed the prosperity of the nation’s small industries, but negatively impacted foreign trade and American consumers. The American System would also provide money for roads, canals, and railroads.

Railroads and canals would be able to transport the cotton grown in the south to northern mills where they can be manufactured and resold throughout the country. The American System would unify the country and  create a self-sufficient, interdependent country, because American citizens were forced to depend on American goods and with transportation development, the culture of one region can easily be spread to other regions in America.

Today we have a very global trade market but American’s still echo the feelings of Henry Clay when they urge their fellow citizens to “buy American.”

citation( http://history1800s.about.com/od/1800sglossary/g/americansysdef.htm)