Henry Clay's American System

After the War of 1812, Americans felt good about themselves. That had beaten the British once again, and they were feeling strong. One of the areas of American life that began to expand was business. British companies had begun to send huge amounts of inexpensive goods to America after the war. American mill owners wanted to sell their goods to Americans rather than have them buy them from Britain, but they were having a hard time competing with the British prices. Henry Clay, a member of the United States House of Representatives, had a plan to aid American businesses. He called it the American System. It included the following:

1.) A tariff – A tariff is a tax on imported goods. It made European goods more expensive and encouraged Americans to buy cheaper products made in America. The tariff also made the country money, which would be used to improve things.

2.) A National Bank - The establishment of a national bank that would promote a single currency (money), making trade easier.

3.) Roads and Canals – Improve the transportation system in the country. Henry Clay though that many more roads and canals should be built. These roads and canals would make trade easier and faster for everyone, helping farmers and merchants get their goods to market.

Henry Clay hoped the American System would help the United States be able to become independent from Europe.

The American System

Step 1: A Tariff - Tax on Imported Goods


Step 2: A National Bank


Step 3: Improvements in roads and canals, which is paid for by the money made from the tariff.

With the improvement in the roads and canals, the United States can grow even more, becoming a powerful, wealthy, and self-sufficient nation.