by Nancy Spannaus, editor
American System Now is a blog specifically devoted to providing crucial resources to Americans, and others who are seeking to reclaim their country for the economic system which built the American economy into the industrial wonder of the world. The American System is most appropriately associated with the work of the first Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton, whose ideas were taken up and put into practice by America’s greatest Presidents—George Washington, John Quincy Adams, Abraham Lincoln, and Franklin Delano Roosevelt, in particular.
Clearly, the economic mechanisms used by all these Presidents varied greatly, but I assert that they were all based on the same core principle. That principle is the use of government-regulated credit to promote continuous scientific and technological progress through the constant upgrading of the productive powers (mental as well as physical) of the labor force. These principles conflict sharply with the laissez-faire ideas which most Americans have been told built our economic prosperity.
I began studying the American System in the mid-1970s, and have personally edited and researched countless newspaper and magazine articles, as well as a book of American System primary sources called The American System of Political Economy, devoted to reviving this economic approach. From this data base, and that of the writings and activities of the leading American System economists and statesmen, I hope to provide a succinct, but comprehensive primer–that exists nowhere else today.
In February 2019 I self-published my second book, entitled Hamilton Versus Wall Street, The Core Principles of the American System of Economics. This book emphasizes the central role of the concepts in Hamilton’s Report on Manufactures in his thinking, and in the historical progress of the United States. That book was critically acclaimed by Kirkus as “a thoughtful, well-written argument for Alexander Hamilton’s financial system as a guard against tyranny.” I am currently in the process of preparing a follow-up volume positing the idea that the sustained applications of Hamilton’s principles of political economy might have led to the end of slavery, without a Civil War.
In addition to pertinent historical articles, the blog includes news updates and relevant documents on today’s debate over the American System, and the fight to apply it to U.S. policy. That fight currently centers on efforts to establish a new National Bank which would use Hamiltonian methods to fund desperately needed modern infrastructure. (See H.R. 3339 in the current Congress)
Videos relevant to the blog content are also available on our You Tube channel, available at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCc34Gq1m_qKWjrz1JbY9GsQ.
No one has provided a more useful overview of the difference between the American System of economics, and the British free trade (market-based) system which continues to dominate economic thinking and practice today, than Abraham Lincoln’s economist Henry C. Carey. The following summary comes at the conclusion of Carey’s book on the Harmony of Interest, written as a polemic against the free trade destruction of the U.S. economy in 1849. In the course of the book, Carey documents the effect which changes in trade policy, from protection to free trade, had over the decades of the ‘20s, ‘30s, and ‘40s, and then sums up as follows:
Two systems are before the world; the one looks to increasing the proportion of persons and of capital engaged in trade and transportation, and therefore to diminishing the proportion engaged in producing commodities with which to trade, with necessarily diminished return to the labour of all; while the other looks to increasing the proportion engaged in the work of production, and diminishing that engaged in trade and transportation, with increased return to all, giving the labourer good wages, and to the owner of capital good profits.
One looks to increasing the quantity of raw materials to be exported, and diminishing the inducements to imports of men, thus impoverishing both farmer and planter by throwing on them the burden of freight; while the other looks to increasing the import of men, and diminishing the export of raw materials, thereby enriching both planter and farmer by relieving them from payment of freight. One looks to giving the products of millions of acres of land and of the labour of millions of men for the services of hundreds of thousands of distant men; the other to bringing the distant men to consume on the land the products of the land, exchanging day’s labour for day’s labour.
One looks to compelling the farmers and planters of the Union to continue their contributions for the support of the fleets and the armies, the paupers, the nobles, and the sovereigns of Europe; the other to enabling ourselves to apply the same means to the moral and intellectual improvement of the sovereigns of America. One looks to the continuance of that bastard freedom of trade which denies the principle of protection, yet doles it out as revenue duties; the other by extending the area of legitimate free trade by the establishment of perfect protection, followed by the annexation of individuals and communities, and ultimately by the abolition of customs houses. One looks to exporting men to occupy desert tracts, the sovereignty of which is obtained by aid of diplomacy or war; the other to increasing the value of an immense extent of vacant land by importing men by millions for their occupation.
One looks to the centralization of wealth and power in a great commercial city that shall rival the great cities of modern times, which have been and are being supported by aid of contributions which have exhausted every nation subjected to them; the other to concentration, by aid of which a market shall be made upon the land for the products of the land, and the farmer and planter be enriched. One looks to increasing the necessity of commerce; the other to increasing the power to maintain it. One looks to underworking the Hindoo, and sinking the rest of the world to his level; the other to raising the standard of man throughout the world to our level.
One looks to pauperism, ignorance, depopulation, and barbarism; the other to increasing wealth, comfort, intelligence, combination of action, and civilization. One looks towards universal war; the other towards universal peace. One is the English system; the other we may be proud to call the American system, for it is the only one ever devised the tendency of which was that of elevating while equalizing the condition of man throughout the world….
Further Reading: The American System per se has been mostly removed from public discourse over the last century. Two EIR books on the subject published in the 1970s—The Political Economy of the American Revolution, and The Civil War and the American System (by Allen Salisbury)—are unique invaluable resources; they are available through online services. I have cited additional readings in the biographical sketches of the key American System economists and statesmen, and in blog posts.
I am a graduate of Bryn Mawr College and Columbia University, getting my B.A. in philosophy at the former in 1965, and a Masters degree at the latter. In 1968 I joined the LaRouche political movement, and in 1973, became the editor-in-chief of New Solidarity newspaper. Later, I held that same position with New Solidarity’s successor, The New Federalist (now defunct), and then with the Executive Intelligence Review weekly magazine.
The magazine came under new management in 2015, and I am no longer a part of EIR, or the LaRouche movement. This blog is not authorized by, or supervised by, anyone but myself.
From the early 1970s on, I intensively studied the American economic and political systems. With British historian Christopher White, I co-edited The Political Economy of the American Revolution in 1977, and then an updated version in 1995. In 2019, I self-published the book Hamilton Versus Wall Street: The Core Principles of the American System of Economics. Since 2020, I have become an adjunct professor at Frederick Community College in Maryland, and taught several classes on Hamilton and the American System at the Lifelong Learning programs at Shepherd University (West Virginia) and Long Island University (New York).
I live in Northern Virginia with my husband Ed and two highly amusing cats.
I am eager to engage in discussion and debate on topics in the blog, and am available to travel for public events, book signings, and the like.
I can be reached through the blog email: firstname.lastname@example.org