Today we are faced with the authenticity of the Trump economic philosophy. Since 2009, we have seen a variety of events. The economy of the nation tanked. Income has stagnated. Jobs have disappeared. Jobs, especially manufacturing jobs, have been consistently lost, mostly going overseas.
Our markets in America have been flooded with cheap goods from foreign nations. Our military has been generally weakened, while our infrastructure (our roads and bridges) are crumbling.
Yet America has heard this all before. History repeats itself. Trump has a plan. He calls his plan “America First.” We have seen this plan before.
A similar plan was deployed by our Sixteenth President, Abraham Lincoln. President Lincoln was confronted with a failing economy during a time of war. President Lincoln took a plan of John Q. Adams, and Henry Clay. Their plan was designed to expand the economy back in the 1820’s. This plan was called “The American System.”
The panic of 1837 was the worst recession in American history. The country simply ran out of money. Banks ran out of coin and printed their own paper money. In the 1830’s Presidents Jackson and Van Buren had dissolved the National Bank. Money grew scarce. Manufactures lost their customers. Cheaper foreign goods flooded the east coast docks. Local banks printed IOU’s.
A young Lincoln saw the situation in Illinois get worse. Farmers with no coinage to buy seeds. Crops were not planted. The country faced starvation. A new political party arose. The Whig Party, (of which Lincoln was a member) was born.
Henry Clay was a leader in the Whig Party. Clay created an economic alternative, deployed by Adams, which paralleled the Trump “America First Plan.”
Clay’s plan was implemented nationwide during the 1860’s. If not for Lincoln implementing this plan then the Union forces might not have kept their economy growing during the Civil War. A flourishing economy in the North was essential as immigrants from Europe and refugees from Europe flooded the country.
Henry Clay devised a plan which ironically parallels what Donald Trump describes for today. Henry Clay dealt with the cheap labor of slavery by restricting the slaves to existing states. This was his earlier Missouri Compromise.
Today, immigrants and refugees flood our shores unchecked. Trump’s plan parallels Clay by intending to restrict any expansion of illegal immigration. Trump proposes to regulate those coming to our shores.
Once growth was restricted by Lincoln, the institution of slavery was dismantled. Lincoln balanced paid freemen with the low wage immigrant flow by growing industry and the infrastructure of the nation. He rebuilt the manufacturing sector during the war. Yet Clay’s plan also had other components.
The second part of the Clay American System plan called for a rebuilt navy. Like Trump recently suggested. Shipyards create jobs. The shipbuilding process requires raw materials, and industries flourished for President Lincoln. Clay had foreseen all of this.
Henry Clay’s American System was manufacturing-centric. Clay knew inherently that goods made in America provided economic independence for the country. Henry Clay, from Kentucky, born in Virginia, saw the purpose of manufacturing as an economic engine for the health of the country.
Clay needed infrastructure. He next called for the building of roads and canals. Canals were built and maintained to help the goods travel from the East Coast to the western interior of the country.
Point four and critical to the plan were special taxes on foreign goods being dumped into America. Clay’s need to protect the American worker was paramount. Both Henry Clay and Donald Trump advocate for a strong set of tariffs against foreign goods. In fact under the Adams administration the Sixth President signed new tariffs into law to protect American workers. The System works.
Trump has mirrored the principles associated with the American System of Henry Clay. This happened before when Abraham Lincoln adopted Clay’s plan during the Civil War. Lincoln solved his money crisis. Factories and mills stayed open. In the midst of a war Lincoln improved the economy of America. Trump proposes to accomplish the same.
The American System of Clay’s design mitigated the restrictive economic policies of the early Democrat Party. Today Trump hopes to duplicate the success of Clay and Lincoln.
Two hundred years after Henry Clay deployed the plan Trump might show the nation that with a proven plan he can “Make America Great Again.”