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Encyclopedia > American System (economic plan)
The Monkey System or Every One For Himself Henry Clay says "Walk in and see the new improved original grand American System!" The cages are labeled: "Home, Consumption, Internal, Improv". This 1831 cartoon ridiculing Clay's American System depicts monkeys, labeled as being different parts of a nation's economy, stealing each other's resources (food) with commentators describing it as either great or a humbug.

The American System was an economic plan, based on the "American School" ideas of Alexander Hamilton, expanded upon later by Friedrich List, consisting of a high tariff to support internal improvements such as road-building, and a national bank to encourage productive enterprise and form a national currency. This program was intended to allow the United States to grow and prosper, by providing a defense against the dumping of cheap foreign products, mainly at the time from the British Empire. Image File history File links Download high resolution version (1106x828, 178 KB) Summary The Monkey System or Every one for himself at the expense of his neighbor An old cartoon ridiculing Henry Clays Tariff and Internal Improvement Program From The Project Gutenberg EBook of History of the United States... Image File history File links Download high resolution version (1106x828, 178 KB) Summary The Monkey System or Every one for himself at the expense of his neighbor An old cartoon ridiculing Henry Clays Tariff and Internal Improvement Program From The Project Gutenberg EBook of History of the United States... This page is a candidate for speedy deletion. ... Alexander Hamilton (January 11, 1755 or 1757 — July 12, 1804) was an American politician, leading statesman, financier, intellectual, military officer, and the main founder and leader of the Federalist party. ... Friedrich List (August 6, 1789 - November 30, 1846) was a leading 19th Century German economist who believed in the National System. // He was born at Reutlingen, Württemberg. ... A tariff is a tax on foreign goods. ... The notion of internal improvements or public works is a concept in economics and politics. ...

The system was first proposed — and largely passed — in the Era of Good Feelings after the War of 1812 produced a sense of nationalism and an awareness that the economic infrastructure needed help. Congress passed a protective tariff and a national bank. In Congress the main sponsors were Henry Clay of Kentucky and John C. Calhoun of South Carolina. Calhoun was especially keen to build up a manufacturing base and a transportation system, as a matter of national defense. The main voting support in Congress came from New York and Pennsylvania, which both dreamed of becoming "empire states" or "keystone states" sponsoring rapid industrialization. The main opposition came from John Randolph, who said the Constitution did not allow such programs. [1] The Era of Good Feelings describes the period from 1815-1824[1] when partisan tensions virtually disappeared in United States politics. ... Combatants United States Native Americans Great Britain, Canadian provincial forces Native Americans First Nations Peoples Commanders James Madison Henry Dearborn George Prevost Tecumseh† Isaac Brock† Strength •U.S. Regular Army: 35,800 •Rangers: 3,049 •Militia: 458,463* •US Navy & US Marines: (at start of war): •Frigates:6 •Other vessels... Henry Clay (April 12, 1777 – June 29, 1852) was a leading American statesman and orator who represented Kentucky in both the House of Representatives and Senate. ... John Caldwell Calhoun (March 18, 1782 – March 31, 1850) was a prominent United States Southern politician and political philosopher from South Carolina during the first half of the 19th century. ... John Randolph of Roanoke, (June 2, 1773 - May 24, 1833) was a Representative and a Senator from Virginia John Randolph, 3rd Earl of Moray, regent of Scotland. ...

The plan had three main points:

  1. The establishment of a protective tariff; a 20%-25% tax on imported goods that protects a nation’s business from foreign competition. Congress passed a tariff in 1816 which made European goods more expensive and encouraged consumers to buy relatively cheaper American-made goods.
  2. The establishment of a national bank that would promote a single currency, making trade easier, and issue what was called sovereign credit, i.e., credit issued by the national government, rather than borrowed from the private banking system. In 1816, Congress created the second Bank of the United States.
  3. The improvement of the country’s infrastructure, especially transportation systems, making trade easier and faster for everyone. Poor roads made transportation slow and costly.

This program became the leading tenet the Whig Party of Henry Clay and Daniel Webster. It was opposed by the Democratic Party of Andrew Jackson, Martin Van Buren, James K. Polk, Franklin Pierce, and James Buchanan prior to the Civil War The term national bank has several meanings: especially in developing countries, a bank owned by the state an ordinary private bank which operates nationally (as opposed to regionally or locally or even internationally) In the past, the term national bank has been used synonymously with central bank, but it is... 1816 was a leap year starting on Monday (see link for calendar). ... The Whig Party was a political party of the United States during the era of Jacksonian democracy. ... Daniel Webster (January 18, 1782 – October 25, 1852) was a prominent American statesman during the nations antebellum, or Pre-Civil War, era. ... The History of the Democratic Party is an account of a continuously supported political party in the United States of America. ... This article is 45 kilobytes or more in size. ... Martin Van Buren (December 5, 1782 – July 24, 1862), nicknamed Old Kinderhook, was the eighth President of the United States. ... James Knox Polk (November 2, 1795–June 15, 1849) was the eleventh President of the United States, serving from March 4, 1845 to March 4, 1849. ... Franklin Pierce (November 23, 1804 – October 8, 1869) was an American politician and the 14th President of the United States, serving from 1853 to 1857. ... This article is about the President of the United States. ...

Among the most important internal improvements created under the American System were the Erie Canal and the Cumberland Road. The Erie Canal (currently part of the New York State Canal System) is a canal in New York State, United States, that runs from the Hudson River to Lake Erie, connecting the Great Lakes with the Atlantic Ocean. ... The Cumberland Road, also called the Great National Pike and the National Road, was the first United States federal highway. ...

Sources and notes

  1. ^ Charles M. Wiltse, John C. Calhoun: Nationalist, 1782-1828 (1944), pp 103-41.
  • The American System: Speeches on the Tariff Question and Internal Improvements by Congressman Andrew Stewart



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