SAT Subject US History Practice Question 780: Answer and Explanation
41. Key components of Henry Clay's American System included
A. a strict interpretation of the Constitution and rapid western expansion.
B. a high protective tariff and internal improvements.
C. the development of Southern industry and Northern agriculture.
D. the elimination of export taxes and of the international slave trade.
E. exclusive government ownership of canals and the national bank.
Correct Answer: B
Henry Clay believed that the United States could become self-sufficient through the "American System." The North would produce industrial goods; the South would supply the raw materials; the West would supply food for the country. Revenue could be raised through a high protective tariff, which would keep out competition and help domestic industry to develop. Excise or sales taxes would be placed on certain goods, and the revenues from these taxes and tariffs would be used for internal improvements, such as roads and canals. The bank would keep the currency stable and would invest in internal improvements. The plan for the American System required a loose interpretation of the Constitution (A), because canals and roads were not mentioned in the document. Clay did not promote Southern industry (C). Export taxes (D) are forbidden by the Constitution and not part of Clay's plan, and the international slave trade was ended in 1808 (before Clay's plan). The canals and the Bank of the United States would be jointly controlled by the government and private owners (E).