by Al Benson Jr.
Awhile back, I reprinted an article from "The Free Market" in the hardcopy version of The Copperhead Chronicle dealing with the socialism of Henry Clay and how Clay's socialism had beena shining example for pragmatic politicians of the stripe of "Honest Abe."
Recently, establishment historian Robert V. Remini wrote a book entitled "Henry Clay Statesman for the Union." Remini went into some detail in describing what Henry Clay euphemistically called his "American System." Remini's remarks were quite revelatory and he seemed genuinely enthused regarding Clay's agenda and mindset. So what else is new with establishment historians?
Of Clay, Remini said: "The idea of the (American) system had been in his mind for years. In numerous speeches he had discussed several of its parts. Now he grasped the unity of his program as a unique expression of what needed to be done by the government to benefit Americans in all sections and among all classes and economic endeavors. It was a vision of progress, a bold reformulation of the relationship between government and society." Let us be a little more blunt than Remini was and state it a little more plainly. Henry Clay planned to take civil government into areas it had no business being in. He had a socialistic view of what government should be "doing" for people. It was the 19th century version of "I'm from Washington and I'm here to help you."
No doubt it sounded noble to the naive--a beneficient federal government reaching down, in spite of the sovereignty of state governments, to "help" the common man. Such unmitigated hogwash even gives the liberals and do-gooders of today goose bumps! We've now had the Feds doing this for more years than any of us have been alive, and look where it has gotten us. Anytime Washington "helps" someone it is the kiss of death. Whether consciously, or otherwise, their "help" always seems to mean further redistribution of someone else's wealth (Marxism).
But Remini has taken us even further. He has informed us that..."Clay's American System was intended to strengthen the bonds that tied the nation together into a single whole. It was intened to ensure the perpetuity of a united country." With a statement like that from his biographer, my guess is that no one would ever label Mr. Clay a rank secessionist! He was 110% pro-nationalist, pro-Union, and pro-socialist--all the way (like several American presidents we are all too familiar with).
Remini mentioned that a big part of Clay's program was internal improvements, in other words, the federal government does in and for the states (certain states) what they should be doing for themselves. Naturally some states, mostly in the Northern half of the country, would get a few more "internal improvements" than did most of the Southern states. But, hey, the Southern states got to participate in Clay's program too--they got to help pay for it!
Clay stated: "All the powers of this government should be interpreted in reference to its first, its best, its greatest object, the Union of these states." In other words, Clay felt the main object of the federal government was not to follow its constitutional limitations and guidelines, but rather to perpetuate the Union at any cost. In 1861, one of Mr. Clay's greatest and most ardent admirers called for 75,000 troops to invade the South, under the guise of "preserving the Union." How much of a leap was it from that to Bill Clinton having our planes bomb the daylights out of Kosovo because we had a "moral imperative" to do so, or to George Bush invading Iraq "to spread democracy" in the Middle East. I submit the distance between them is not all that great.
I have noted, for years, that socialism was alive and well in this country since before the middle of the 19th century. We had Robert Owen and his socialist experiment in New Harmony, Indiana in 1829 and we had Henry Clay with his vision of a unified socialist "nation" even before that. And yet unthinking conservatives still try to tell us that all our problems started with FDR 110 years later! Boys, wake up and smell the coffee! This country has been in the throes of some kind of socialism since the 1820s--NOT the 1920s--the 1820s, and its high time we woke up long enough to smell the decay!
A resurgent Confederate Movement, if it is Christian, might hold some hope for the future, but probably not the immediate future--and if Confederate and Southern Heritage folks don't begin to get their kids out of the government schools that might not happen either. Barring this hope, and a genuine spiritual revival, the near future for this country looks rather bleak. Either way, God will build His kingdom. The question is--will this country be a part of the building, or will it, like so many others, end up on the ash heap of history?