|About Speeches Prior to 1850 Speeches 1850 to 1861 Civil War Era Speeches Reconstruction Era Speeches Articles|
First Printed in The American Almanac, November 11, 1991
As can be seen from the introduction, this article was written at the end of the Administration of George H.W. Bush, in 1990-1991, and just before the beginning of the first term of William J. Clinton. At the time the debate on the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) (which was subsequently passed by Congress and signed into law by President Clinton) was raging. While it is now 17 years later, that debate, albeit in the form of whether NAFTA has benefited or harmed the three nations of North America party to it, it still rages. As such, this article is very much still relevant.
As the debate on the
question of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), and the
doctrine of free trade as the panacea for American economic problems,
has raged in the past month, the American electorate have not been told
that this nation has once in its history experienced the "magnificent
benefits" of truly free market, free trade economics. While President
George Bush, and his associates in the fight to ram through "fast track"
authorization for NAFTA, regale the innumerable advantages of such an
agreement, based on such policies, the American people should know, not
only that free-trade has historically been an alien and subversive
economic principle for this nation, but that the only time that it has
actually prevailed on American soil, it produced the living hell known
as the Confederate States of America.
Much as history has been written otherwise, slavery, secession and the great war fought to insure the survival of this nation between 1861-65, was a battle against the destructive policies of what was then known as "British" free trade. The southern Confederacy, along with its doctrines of human slavery, states rights and secession, was the institutionalized manifestation of British free trade policies in America. It was free trade that created slavery, as part of a system that oppressed the majority of the southern population, and turned that section into a despotic, oligarchical nightmare in total opposition to the principles of republicanism upon which this nation was founded.
"American System" Economic Doctrine
It is the
promise of the Declaration of Independence, "that all men are created
equal" with the inalienable rights to "life, liberty and the pursuit of
happiness". With these same principles embedded in the Constitution of
the United States, this means a government that will provide for
economic development, and will guarantee government republican in spirit
and form. Government that will insure "life, liberty and the pursuit of
happiness" by fostering the development of its citizens, through
economic, scientific, and technological progress. This is how the
nations founders understood it and fought, through Alexander Hamilton's
policies, as the first Treasury Secretary, to implement such policies
for economic development. Under President George Washington, Hamilton
created a national bank to control and direct the nations credit towards
development of its economic resources. Recognizing that the increase of
the productive powers of its citizens was essential to the development
of all other resources, the economic policy of Washington's
administration was directed toward fostering American manufactures, new
technologies, and a system of internal improvements. Protection, in the
form of a tariff policy to prevent the destruction of American
manufactures, agriculture, and labor by the British, became a critical
component of this "American System" economic program. These policies
later were the center of continuing political battles against the
efforts of British and Swiss finance to economically "re colonize"
America throughout the 1800's. Centered around the leadership of Mathew
Carey, his son, Henry, and Henry Clay, the "American System" of
political economy, as Clay had termed it, was used by the forces allied
against free trade who fought to insure that the cancer that was rapidly
transforming the South would be eliminated, before it destroyed the
The American nation was founded in opposition to the vestiges of feudal power and policy in Europe. That the obscenity of Southern feudalism, based on free trade and an opposition to Clay's and Carey's "American System" doctrines, had been allowed to exist on this continent was at root the issue over which the South moved to destroy the American nation. With the battle over southern secession, the issue became that of whether the American nation would continue to remain, in the words of Abraham Lincoln, "half slave and have free." If it were to survive it could not be allowed to remain a nation anything other than free, in the fullest meaning of that term, both North and South. This meant the end of not simply slavery, but of the policies that bred slavery. Political and civil equality cannot exist without economic freedom, and the policies of free trade meant economic slavery.
Free Trade: What it is
Utilizing the argument that the free market is the best "governor" to insure the increase in wealth, free trade demands that government intervention with the "free" market be eliminated. With its opposition to protective tariffs, direction and control of credit, sponsorship of internal improvements, and the development of manufactures, and new technologies it insures the continued enslavement of less developed economies to the looting of superior economic power. Understanding the lessons of British financial and economic policy on the American colonies and its other colonial possessions, this Nations founders recognized that the failure to protect the development of native manufactures meant perpetual dependence on those of Britain, with such economies remaining as solely the raw materials suppliers for British industry. Inevitably, along with this went perpetual economic backwardness, with the degradation of the value of raw materials, land, and labor.
The South, Slavery and Free
This site was designed and is maintained by Fredric Henderson