Henry Clay and the American System

Overview

This detailed study of Henry Clay and the American System -- a program of vigorous economic nationalism dependent on active government and constitutional aspects of what was perhaps Clay's greatest contribution to national policy, a contribution that has received surprisingly little study until now.

During the first half of the nineteenth century the new United States experienced rapid material growth, transforming a largely agrarian, pre-modern economy into a diversified, ...

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Overview

This detailed study of Henry Clay and the American System -- a program of vigorous economic nationalism dependent on active government and constitutional aspects of what was perhaps Clay's greatest contribution to national policy, a contribution that has received surprisingly little study until now.

During the first half of the nineteenth century the new United States experienced rapid material growth, transforming a largely agrarian, pre-modern economy into a diversified, industrializing one. As Speaker of the House in the years following the War of 1812, and later as founder of the Whig party, Clay argued strongly for the development of a home market for domestic goods so that Americans would not be dependent on foreign imports. This "American System" was originally little more than a protective tariff on foreign goods, but it soon came to encompass a collection of policies that included a national banking system and distribution of federal funds to improve transportation. Baxter reveals the inner workings of Clay's program and offers the first careful analysis of its successes and failures.

This lively and incisive account will appeal to anyone interested in American history and the processes that shaped modern America

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"A long-needed addition to the literature on Jacksonian Era politics." -- Southern Historian

"Clearly written and deals with an important topic that has surprisingly escaped book-length treatment until now." -- American Historical Review

"Now we have a thoroughly researched, carefully crafted study of Clay's major contribution to national policy. Maurice G. Baxter, professor emeritus at Indiana University, has written a comprehensive study of Clay's system, 'a biographical perspective upon economic history.'" -- Journal of American History

"It is refreshing to read a history that grounds Jacksonian debate over political economy in realities and prospects as Clay and his contemporaries understood them." -- Journal of Southern History

"Here is a book that has long been needed for the antebellum period of American history: an excellent, detailed and sharply focused study of Henry Clay's American System. Dr. Baxter provides us with a balanced, objective and highly readable account of one of the most interesting, important and controversial subjects of the early nineteenth century." -- Robert V. Remini, author of Henry Clay: Statesman for the Union

"A fine study by a first-rate historian, well-written, thoughtful, and interesting throughout." -- Journal of the Early Republic

Booknews
A detailed study of American politician Clay (1777-1852) and his program for vigorous economic nationalism, which is little known today but had immense impact on the subsequent course of government. As Speaker of the House and founder of the Whig party after the War of 1812 when the US was shifting from an agricultural to an industrial economy, he called for developing a home market for domestic products. The initial protective tariffs have since grown to encompass a national banking system and federal funding of transportation improvements. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780813191126
  • Publisher: University Press of Kentucky
  • Publication date: 7/2/2004
  • Pages: 276
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.61 (d)

Meet the Author

Maurice G. Baxter is professor emeritus of history at Indiana University. He is the author of numerous books, including One and Inseparable: Daniel Webster and the Union.

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Table of Contents

1 Jeffersonian nationalist 1
2 The American system 16
3 Postwar issues 34
4 Secretary of state 55
5 Nullification 67
6 The bank war 87
7 Internal improvements 108
8 Jacksonian ascendancy 121
9 Financial problems 131
10 Log cabin 148
11 Veto 159
12 Limited success 172
13 Disappointments 186
14 Retrospect 199
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