The American System

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The end of the War of 1812 gave birth to a new nationalism in the United States. It quickened the downfall of the Federalist Party, and ushered in "the era of good feelings". Henry Clay created the "American System" to hopefully keep the prosperity that America seemed to be experiencing.

Clay's "American System" envisioned a tariff to promote and protect domestic industry (they would impose a tax on imported goods). Also, a national bank owned by private stock holders and the federal government that would promote a single currency. Instead of western land being given away to homesteaders it would be sold. Its proceeds would be used for education, and other internal improvements. Also the a goal in the "American System" was to improve the United States' transportation systems to make trade faster and easier. The program was proposed to promote economic diversification and development, reduce dependence on imports, and join together different sections of the country.

Clay's Whig Party was formed in opposition to Andrew Jackson's Democratic Party, creating "the second party system". The "American System" was the main platform in the Whig Party. Whigs were found in all parts of the country. They were particularly found in wealthy parts of the country, in areas in need of government economic aid, and among Protestant religious bodies that hoped a strong government would further their agenda of moral reform.

Clay was often referred to as "the Great Compromiser" because he had a chief role in three of the greatest sectional compromises of his day. These compromises were the Missouri Compromise of 1820, the Tariff Compromise of 1833, and the Compromise of 1850. He was predisposed toward moderation in sectional conflicts because he came from the border state of Kentucky.

The Whig party eventually disappeared, and Henry Clay never became president. However, the Republican Party put many of the ideas of the "American System" into operation. Ultimately, Clay's...
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