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The American System

One method the American government used to facilitate economic growth in the early to mid-1800s was providing jobs for the citizens. John Quincy Adams asked Congress to begin fulfilling many men’s dreams of a national transportation system. (1) The government was doing a lot to help create the jobs needed to meet that dream. In addition to that, the government looked to helping the domestic economy by imposing a “tariff on imports to protect home manufactures against renewed foreign competition.” (2) John C. Calhoun worked with William Lowndes to sponsor bills for a national bank, the tariff, and bills to create a national transportation system. It would only see movement forward with the support of Henry Clay who helped push the bills through the House. (3) The American System proposed by Henry Clay was designed to “harmonize and balance the nation’s agriculture, commerce, and industry” and it implemented the tariff, the national bank, and the national transportation system. (4) The system was meant to have the government and the economic machinery of the nation working together for a common good. In that way, the Lowell Experiment represented the American System. It was an experiment designed to create good for the people of the lower classes giving them work to do as they benefited the nation at large. It was an attempt to harmonize the needs of the people with that of the nation. It was meant to be a project that “concentrated a huge capital under corporate control, deployed new inventions and machine, integrated the processes of textile and manufacture” as it focused on “employee welfare.” (5)



(1) Charles Sellers, The Market Revolution: Jacksonian America, 1815-1846, (New York: Oxford University Press, 1991), 170.
(2) Daniel Feller, The Jacksonian Promise: America, 1815-1840, (Baltimore: John Hopkins University, 1995), 54.
(3) Ibid, 54.
(4) “Classic Senate Speeches: Henry Clay ‘In Defense of the American System’, United States System, accessed December 9, 2012, http://www.senate.gov/artandhistory/history/common/generic/Speeches_ClayAmericanSystem.htm.
(5) Feller, 119.




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