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Henry Clay, In Defense of the American System, 1832 - Essay Example

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Henry Clay’s observation on the ways and means to mend the foreign influence on American economy was simple, significant and straightforward. He articulated that good legislations, the provisions of which if faithfully implemented contributed to build America. By fostering…
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Henry Clay, In Defense of the American System, 1832
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Essay, History and Political Science Topic: Henry Clay, "In Defense of the American System," 1832
1. Henry Clay’s observation on the ways and means to mend the foreign influence on American economy was simple, significant and straightforward. He articulated that good legislations, the provisions of which if faithfully implemented contributed to build America. By fostering American Industry, he meant that the necessary infrastructures for the growth of the local industries were created and the industry ceased to be controlled by foreign legislation. The love for foreign products was removed from the minds of the people of America. American legislators worked against tremendous odds in 1824, as those opposed to the American System predicted its doom on several counts like the destruction of the public revenue, inevitability of the enhancement of direct taxes, destruction of the navigation, misery of the commercial cities, sharp increase in the commodities of public consumption and blow to the export market with decline in international trade. All the predictions of the critics went haywire, and the American Economy passed through the phase of economic boom.
2. With economy regaining its original health and prosperity booming on all counts, America was facing the consequences arising out of that boom. The foes of the American System, being jealous of that great leap in economy, were on the scheme of subversion, and the vast amount of revenue produced created its own problems as every branch of American navigation had increased. Certain consequential actions relating to the progress of fulfillment of the benefits were considered necessary. One of the worst economic indicators of the economy was the enormous public debt of the country. Time was ripe to abolish the system to which the legislations owed so much to the public prosperity and the country looked forward to a period of redemption and consolidation of the economy. To get rid of the public debt as the interest liabilities were heavy was the first priority. The system had to break free of this economic serfdom. Opinion was divided about the liquidation of the public debt liability. Some argued that the public debt was the secondary concern and other projects and accomplishments needed to get priority. The Henry Clay argued “But the people of the United States have not coupled the payment of their public debt with the destruction of the protection of their industry, against foreign laws and foreign industry.” (Clay, 1832)The liquidation of the public debt was considered absolutely essential. The other economic indicators were establishment of a protective tariff with tax on imported goods. This measure protected the nation’s business from foreign competition. Another measure was establishment of a national bank to promote a single currency and issue of the sovereign credit. Improvement of the country’s infrastructure system, mainly the transportation facility helped the manufacturer easy mobility of the goods. .
3. The first and foremost reason for the prosperity of America was leadership. Take any segment of the society, any discipline, leadership is most important. An imaginative leader with vision can foresee the possible obstacles in the path of progress. We need noble projects no doubt, but noble leadership needs to be in proper place to see through the successful completion of those projects. America was twice blessed to have noble individuals to implement the noble projects in the period under discussion. No foreign legislator will work to the advantage of a particular country. He will work for the selfish aggrandizement of wealth for his country. The transformation took place due to American legislation and the administrators of the country saw through the game of foreign legislation that worked to the advantage of foreign industry. The vested interests created fear psychology to thwart the attempts by the American legislators to be self-reliant. The new leadership saw that every section of the American society benefited from the new legislation. . Senator Henry Clay of Kentucky - one of the "Great Triumvirate" of the antebellum era - deserved credit for working out the modalities of the new “American System”. Two other members of the Triumvirate were Daniel Webster of Massachusetts and John C. Calhoun of South Carolina.
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