Of all the American statesmen who espoused and acted to implement the American System, Franklin D. Roosevelt (1882-1945) clearly had the most opportunity to shape the nation. Entering the presidency at a time of extreme crisis, FDR had three full terms to be able to implement a wide array of policies devoted to advancing the general welfare, much as Alexander Hamilton and the Framers conceived that concept in the nation’s Constitution. While FDR did not invoke the same names and forms for his policies as the standard-bearers of the American System did in the 19th Century, he carried forward the concept to stunning effect.
In place of a national bank, FDR enacted a set of anti-speculation regulations (cf. Glass-Steagall) and instituted far-ranging credit institutions such as the Reconstruction Finance Corporation, which was responsible for a huge amount of funding of national infrastructure. Thus he fulfilled Hamilton’s injunction to make banks the nurseries of national wealth.
In place of high protective tariffs, FDR protected industry and labor through fair trade agreements, and government policies to protect labor rights and provide a social safety net. He promoted the arts and science, as Hamilton had urged.
In the realm of internal improvements and infrastructure, FDR literally reshaped the nation, through his government programs for electrification, water management, public works, transportation, and agriculture. This was done from the standpoint of promoting the maximum increase in the productive powers of labor, and achieved the most dramatic breakthroughs (such as in medicine, and nuclear power) in the course of the Second World War.