RECOMMENDED READING

On February 2, 1832, Henry Clay rose on the Senate floor to defend a bold national economic agenda that he had christened eight years earlier “a genuine AMERICAN SYSTEM” (emphasis in original). He had already advanced a number of measures critical to his vision: a national bank, protective tariffs for manufacturing, and infrastructure to connect commercial centers to the expansive frontier. But the political revolution in 1828 that drove Clay’s National Republican Party from power and installed a backcountry populist in the White House was threatening to undo these projects.

Speaking over the course of three days, Clay documented the “unparalleled prosperity” that the American System had produced. He explained how this “long established system” was “patiently and carefully built up, and sanctioned, … by the nation and its highest and most revered authorities.”

His opponents’ alternative, he alleged, was vacuous at best: “When gentlemen have succeeded in their design of an immediate or gradual destruction of the American System, what is their substitute?” Clay asked. “Free trade! Free trade! The call for free trade, is as unavailing as the cry of a spoiled child. … It never has existed; it never will exist.”

(Adapted from Rediscovering a Genuine American System, in the American Compass series on Rebooting the American System.)

Continue Reading at Daily Caller
Wells King
Wells King is the former research director at American Compass.
@wellscking
Recommended Reading
Senator Marco Rubio Delivers the Inaugural Henry Clay Lecture in Political Economy

Sen. Rubio assesses how the flawed bipartisan economic consensus went so tragically wrong and offers a clear-eyed approach to economic policy that can serve the national interest and the common good.

Marco Rubio Gets It. Our Economic Addiction to China Is a National Security Threat.

Henry Olsen discusses Sen. Rubio’s remarks at American Compass’s inaugural Henry Clay Lecture in Political Economy.

The Once and Future Republican Orthodoxy

The American Enterprise Institute has just released a new white paper that defends the CARES Act against arguments from the right. Contra deficit hawks and libertarians in Congress, Jay Cost argues that recent deficit-financed economic stimulus falls squarely within the “parameters of Republican orthodoxy on economic conservatism.”