The American System and the Black Codes - American History

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The American System

The American system was designed as an alternative to federalism in order to improve and unite the country. It was an economic strategy that had a big impact on American politics in the nineteenth century. A national bank to promote trade, a tariff to safeguard and promote American industry, and federal subsidies for internal improvements like roads and canals to ensure that there were lucrative markets for the agricultural products were the three pillars of the plan. Hennery Clay was the main proponent of the economic strategy and the one who first referred to it as the "American System." A newspaper article by Mark Sumner provides an analysis of the transformations that this system would bring to the American people in depth. In an article titled “The American System,” Mark evaluates the effects of this system in the economy by justifying why politicians such as Clay and Hamilton insisted on having the government be at the center of the mentioned three areas of the American economy.

Supporting and Protecting Domestic Industry

First, “the American System” would offer support and protect the domestic industry. It included the use of subsidies and tariffs to have the sales of American goods boosted over the imports. According to Mark, Hamilton and Clay were of the view that if the United States was going to compete on the global stage and develop its own centers of industry, it would need to have a strong middle class and a manufacturing base that was broad.

The Need for a National Bank

Secondly, the government required to have a national bank that was privately owned, but operating under the policy of the American government. In this article, Mark states that the whole idea was to bring and bind the nation together. However, this “American system” was largely opposed by incoming Presidents in the years between Washington and Lincoln (Mark).

A New 'American System'

According to Fred, in an article titled, “A new ‘American system’” posted by the Huffington Post, the opponents of the system were right. The article provides significant reasons why the older system proposed by Hamilton and Clay later became a nightmare to the United States creating an entirely 'new system' that was not envisioned. Fred states that due to 'globalization' in the United States, the real estate, insurance, and finance sectors have witnessed a rise. Many sectors in the American economy have become hollowed out. For instance, manufacturing jobs started to be flashed as automation was adopted. This has been attributed to the undermining of the United States domestic manufacturing sector caused by the rising debt burden that can be traced from the Hamilton propositions.

Nurturing Human Capital for Economic Growth

According to Fred, the system that encouraged the development of a population that was skilled with industrial development and economic opportunity drove the economy of the country throughout the 19th century until the mid-20th century when it would no longer be feasible due to the changing times. According to Fred, at this period, massive wealth was accumulated by the United States and in turn, many social programs were financed. Fred argues that the only way to have a flourishing economy again is nurturing the human capital, something that Hamilton and Clay did not realize. America needs to return much of the investment into creating reliable human capital and ensure innovation goes hand in hand with it. Nevertheless, Fred acknowledges that while the “American System” by Hamilton might be outdated, it has some merits that can be considered in steering economic growth in the United States. There is a need to examine the past wisdom and find the gaps that made the system fail, such as the rising debts and the collapse of the financial sector (Fred). Fred argues that while the role of government has been limited and there is free trade, the economy is still struggling and hence the need to find a balance between older proposed policies and the new style of thinking.

The Black Codes

The Black Codes

The Jim Crow Era

The Jim Crow Era was a racial caste system that was commonly operated in Southern and Border States. The era witnessed a series of rigid anti-black laws and made it the way of life. During this period, African-Americans were turned into second-class citizens as many of the Christian preachers taught that the Whites were the Chosen people, blacks had been cursed to be servants, and the Almighty God supported racial segregation. The two articles presented below provide a separate account of this era as one shows the atrocities that faced the blacks and the other provides justification of why the black codes were enacted.

The Cold Cases of the Jim Crow Era

In an article by Margaret Burnham and Margaret Russell posted in the New York Times titled “The cold cases of the Jim Crow era,” an account of the wrongs committed to the black Americans has been provided. The article presents a letter that the then President, Franklin Roosevelt, has received from a desperate mother who had lost a son two years earlier. The letter states that the mother would not get any lawyer just because it was a white man who had lynched his son. The authors use this case to demonstrate the racial violence that faced many black Americans, and cases were not investigated despite many of them disappearing. Margaret Burnham and Margaret Russell state that the effects of the black codes to the thriving African-American communities were devastating as their property was damaged, they were subjected to arson, and they were murdered without much being done by the Federal government to bring justice. According to (Margaret and Margaret) of this article, until today, nothing has been done to investigate the racial violence during this Jim Crow Era and recommend the need for the country to confront its historical background that has been unknowingly or intentionally ignored. This would help in productive conversations and generate African-American's trust in the legal system.

Washington Black Codes

In the article by Kate posted in New York Times titled “Washington Black Codes,” an account of the reasons why Henry Wilson was opposed to these codes and wanted them to be halted. Wilson presented a report that showed the stunning degradation of humanity as both female and male prisoners were poorly fed and clothed. Some of these prisoners were free blacks who had been imprisoned under the 'black codes.' The speech by Wilson at the senate sparked a debate on the future of slavery and Jim Crow laws. For instance, in Washington, the lives of African Americans had been restricted. However, when the Congressional session ended six months later, the discriminatory black codes were abolished, and slavery was dead. Southerners stood up to the advocates of black codes and wanted nothing to do with slavery in the capital. While changes were being experienced, capital magistrates and constables continued arresting children, men, and women on suspicion that they were fugitives. Wilson was the proponent of pushing for equal rights for the African Americans despite much opposition. Kate asserts that Wilson and others realized that freedom would not have meaning if the African Americans were not accorded the same civil rights as whites. The ratification of the 13th Amendment would end slavery but passed the black codes that were discriminatory despite much opposition (Kate).

Works Cited

Fred, Bauer. "A New “American System”." 31 May 2012. The Huffington Post. 21 March 2017.

Kate, Masur. "Washington’s Black Codes." 7 December 2011. New York Times. 21 March 2017.

Margaret, Burnham and Russell Margaret. "The Cold Cases of the Jim Crow Era." 28 August 2015. New York Times. 21 March 2017.

Mark, Sumner. "The American System." 2 December 2012. Daily Kos. 21 March 2017.

July 07, 2023

Government History

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