SAT Subject US History Practice Question 911: Answer and Explanation
82. Key components of Henry Clay's American system included
A. a strict interpretation of the Constitution and rapid western expansion.
B. high protective tariffs and internal improvements.
C. the development of Southern industry and Northern agriculture.
D. the elimination of export taxes and of the slave trade.
E. government ownership of railroads and canals.
Correct Answer: B
Henry Clay believed that the United States could become more self-sufficient through his proposed program, called 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 high protective tariffs, 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 improvement, such as roads and canals. A national bank would keep currency stable and would invest in internal improvements. The American System required a loose interpretation of the Constitution (A), because canals, roads, and a national bank were not mentioned in the document. Clay's proposed program would not promote Southern industry (C). Export taxes (D) are forbidden by the Constitution and were not part of Clay's plan and the international slave trade was ended in 1808, before Clay's plan. Clay did not advocate government ownership of railroads and canals.