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Henry Clay’s “In Defense of the American System”: Pre-Speech Outline and Final Manuscript Sent For Publication of One of the Most Important Economic and Political Speeches in American History

HENRY CLAY, This remarkable offering consists of two unique steps in the creation and dissemination of his speech: 1) Clay’s 21-page autograph manuscript notes, used to prepare for or deliver the speech in the Senate, plus 2) Clay’s 67-page autograph manuscript signed, preparing and delivering the text to the printer. With a copy of the published text, Speech of Henry Clay, in Defence of the American System, against the British Colonial System: with an Appendix, by Gales & Seaton, 1832, 43 pp., 2/2/1832.

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Henry Clay’s philosophy of developmental capitalism focused on achieving economic independence and national self-sufficiency, allowing the United States to grow internally and expand its reach into global markets. His “American System,” spelled out while Speaker of the House in 1824, included four main components: tariffs to protect and promote American industry; a national bank to control the money supply and foster commerce; federal subsidies for roads, canals, and other “internal improvements” to move products, services, and capital to markets; and high prices for public land to generate revenue for the federal government. His system was designed to balance states’ rights with national interests. Though the industrializing northeast, the predominantly agricultural west and the cotton-growing south had diverging interests, the plan supported the growth of the whole.

But in 1828, with low-priced imports driving northern industries out of business, revisions were called for. In theory aiming to protect American manufactures and forestall even higher future rates, the “Tariff of Abominations” was actually designed to fail. Southerners opposed to tariffs joined in writing the bill, adding heavy taxes on materials imported by New England. Despite the ploy’s success in galvanizing opposition, the bill surprisingly garnered just enough votes to pass, aided by members willing to sacrifice short term and sectional interests in favor of longer term national benefits. Knowing that it would be a political liability, President John Quincy Adams still signed it into law. Higher tariffs resulted in higher prices and reduced British exports to the U.S., which impacted Britain’s ability to pay for Southern cotton. And Westerners, though appreciating tariff support for agriculture, disliked the high price for public lands, believing that northeastern factory owners sought to prevent westward migration that would deplete the labor pool and force higher wages—and in turn keeping the region underrepresented in Congress. Both southerners and westerners distrusted the Bank of the United States, which they viewed as only a prop for northeastern manufacturers. 

Clay and his supporters sought to make adjustments while preserving the general policy, but the whole system came under increasing attack, especially in South Carolina.  In January 1832, Senator Robert Y. Hayne (1791-1839) gave a noted speech assaulting the Tariff of Abominations. Over three days in early February, Clay, having just been elected to the Senate, gave a masterful response that is widely regarded as one of the most important speeches in American history. (Later that same year, Hayne would chair the South Carolina Nullification Convention, a bold challenge to federal authority that was firmly opposed by Jackson.

Item #23830, PRICE ON REQUEST

Alexander Hamilton’s Son Thanks U.S. Senator for Report that Leads to President Johnson’s Impeachment

JOHN C. HAMILTON, Autograph Letter Signed, to Jacob M. Howard, January 11, 1868, New York. 2 pp., 5 x 7⅞ in.

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In this fascinating letter, Alexander Hamilton’s son thanks U.S. Senator Jacob M. Howard for his report on President Andrew Johnson’s attempt to dismiss Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton. That attempt and the refusal of the Senate to endorse it led the U.S. House of Representatives to impeach Johnson just six weeks after Hamilton wrote this letter.

John Hamilton also jokingly refers to Howard’s thinly veiled criticism of Thomas Jefferson, whom Hamilton characterizes as the “Machiavel of the U States.” Italian Renaissance man Niccolo Machiavelli (1469-1527) wrote The Prince (1513, published 1532) in which he commends an amoral expediency in the ruthless exercise of power, exactly the view the younger Hamilton held of Jefferson. Hamilton also commends his father’s plan for funding the nation’s Revolutionary War debt as a model for funding the Civil War debt.

Item #26035, $1,500

Installing Jefferson’s Great Clock at Monticello

Thomas Jefferson, Autograph Letter Signed (“Th: Jefferson”) as President, to James Dinsmore. Washington, January 28, 1804. With integral transmittal leaf addressed in his hand with his franking signature (“free Th: Jefferson Pr. US.”) at top left. 8 x 10 in.

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A significant letter concerning Jefferson’s long-planned installation of large cannonball weights that powered the seven-day clock being installed in Monticello’s front entrance hall.

Item #26127, $55,000

Jefferson’s First Inaugural Address, Rare Printing on Silk

Thomas Jefferson, Broadside, The inaugural speech of Thomas Jefferson. Washington-City, March 4th, 1801 - this day, at XII o’clock, Thomas Jefferson, President Elect of the United States of America, took the oath of office required by the Constitution, in the Senate Chamber, in the presence of the Senate, the members of the House of Representatives, the public officers, and a large concourse of citizens. Previously to which, he delivered the following address.... [Boston]: From the Chronicle Press, by Adams & Rhoades, Court-Street. [March 19, 1801]. On silk. 16½ x 22½ in. 1 p.

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Jefferson’s most famous speech lays out his political program, but also makes a ringing call for patriotism beyond partisanship. It is considered to be one of the most important presidential speeches, and is widely quoted even today – by President Clinton, President Bush, and almost every other current political figure. Alluding to the recent controversial and acrimonious presidential election, Jefferson calls for a calming of partisan passions, and outlines “what I deem the essential principles of our government. . . . We have called by different names brethren of the same principle. We are all republicans; we are all federalists.

Item #21089.99, $28,000

Gerald Ford Defends His Early Commitment to Civil Rights

GERALD R. FORD, Typed Letter Signed, to Arthur F. Bukowski, January 28, 1950, Washington, D.C. 2 pp., 8 x 10½ in. On Ford’s Congressional letterhead.

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This fascinating letter by freshman Congressman and future president Gerald R. Ford to a Catholic college president in Michigan defends his early record on civil rights legislation.

Personally, I have lived by and believe in the fundamental principle of equality of opportunity regardless of race, color or creed. I am in favor of such a policy for all citizens and will cooperate to accomplish that objective by the most practical and effective methods.

Item #26024, $1,200

Counting the Vote in 1876 – Florida’s First Election Fiasco

ELECTIONS, Two pamphlets and three documents relating to the disputed presidential election of 1876. 1876-1877.

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The 1876 presidential election between Republican Rutherford B. Hayes and Democrat Samuel Tilden came down to a dispute over Florida’s electoral votes. These pamphlets and documents include official signed copies of key Florida court and executive decisions. From the papers of Edward Louden Parris, an attorney for Tilden, who ended up losing in the “Compromise of 1877.”

Item #21857.04, $1,450

Reagan as President Giving Thanks for Painting of a Park Where He Was a Lifeguard

RONALD REAGAN, Typed Letter Signed “Dutch,” to Bill and Jean Thompson, March 7, 1988, Washington, D.C.. 1 p., 7 x 10½ in. On White House stationery with embossed presidential seal.

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I’ve been living with memories since it arrived.... There are no words to properly express my gratitude and my pleasure at having that lovely painting of a spot so dear to my heart.

Item #26025, $1,250

Washington Attorney and Inventor Writes to Arms Manufacturer about Andrew Johnson’s Impeachment

[ANDREW JOHNSON]. CLIFFORD ARRICK, Autograph Letter Signed, to James T. Ames, March 2, 1868, Washington, D.C. On U.S. House of Representatives stationery. 5 pp., 5 x 8 in.

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Our Convention having gone off half cocked, after the nomination of the noble Abraham we had nothing else to do, but endorse what they did, and adopt this modern bogus ‘Moses.’

The infliction of Andy upon us was after all a probable God Send. Mr Lincoln would have adapted himself to events probably, and his noble heart would have stopped far short of what is now, as inevitable as death.

Written on March 2, 1868, the day the House of Representatives approved the first nine articles of impeachment against President Andrew Johnson, this letter reflects on the responsibility for his 1864 nomination as vice presidential candidate and the villainy of his rule, and expresses the hope that African American voters would yet save the nation. Congressman Arrick apparently did not count on Johnson’s acquittal.

Item #26036, $850

Andrew Jackson’s Proclamation Responding to Nullification

ANDREW JACKSON, Broadside. The Proclamation of Andrew Jackson, President To the People of the United States. New York: E. Conrad, [1832]. Large broadside on silk, text in 5 columns, surrounded by an ornamental border. 20½ x 29 in. 1 p.

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Item #21418.99, $3,000

Union League of Philadelphia Supports Re-Election of Lincoln as “the man for the time”

[ABRAHAM LINCOLN]. [HENRY CHARLES LEA], Printed Pamphlet. No. 17: Abraham Lincoln, [March 1864]. 12 pp., 5¾ x 8¾ in.

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As a MAN OF THE PEOPLE, understanding them and trusted by them, he has proved himself the man for the time.

Item #24898, $950

John Tyler Addresses Special Session of Congress soon after William Henry Harrison’s Death

JOHN TYLER, Broadside. State of the Union Message. National Intelligencer—Extra, June 1, 1841. Washington, DC: Gales and Seaton. 1 p., 18 x 23 in.

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The States are emphatically the constituents of this Government....

Item #25676, $1,900

Harry Hines Woodring Political Archives and Related Material

HARRY WOODRING, Archive. Featuring a Harris & Ewing photo of Roosevelt at his desk signed and inscribed,“to Helen Woodring (wife) from her friend Franklin D. Roosevelt”. With over 30 official and other photos of Woodring and/or his wife, many being proof copies from Harris & Ewing, five acetate recordings of Woodring including the “Cabinet Series” of the “United States Government Reports” radio series with paperwork, a 1940 letter from General George Marshall, assorted certificates, calling cards, government letterheads, Woodridge family ration books in a leather case, leather jewelry/vanity case with Mrs. Woolridge’s initials and December 25, 1939 date, etc. First half 20th century.

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Item #25690.01, $2,000

Original 1789 First Inaugural Button: “Memorable Era / March the Fourth 1789

[GEORGE WASHINGTON], 1789 "Memorable Era" Inaugural Button. 34 mm brass with original shank. Word "Era" weakly struck, as is typical. GW-1789-4, Albert WI-1a.

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Item #25446, $11,000

President Franklin D. Roosevelt Appoints Woodring as Secretary of War

FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT, Partially Printed Document Signed, Appointment of Harry H. Woodring as Secretary of War, May 7, 1937. Co-signed by Secretary of State Cordell Hull. 1 p., 22.75 x 18.5 in.

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Item #25690, $4,500

Original 1789 First Inaugural Button: “Memorable Era / March the Fourth 1789

[GEORGE WASHINGTON], 1789 Inaugural button. Brass, original shank (slightly bent over), 34 mm.

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Item #25794, SOLD — please inquire about other items

Franklin Roosevelt Thanks Alabama Friend for Compliments on “Forgotten Man” Speech

FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT, Typed Letter Signed, as Governor, to Samuel H. Tatum, April 14, 1932, Albany, New York. 1 p., 8 x 10½ in.

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Item #24492, $950

Artwork for FDR’s 1936 Reelection Campaign proposed by Artist Franz Felix

[PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION OF 1936], Typed Document Signed. Artwork by Franz Felix and Ideas and Copy by Richard Barron, “Set of Rough Sketches Containing Some Suggested Promotion Ideas to be Used in the 1936 Democratic Presidential Campaign,” July 2, 1936. 1 p., 12 x 10½ in.

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This sheet contains five rough sketches of graphics calling on the workers and voters of America to support Franklin D. Roosevelt’s reelection in 1936. They did, in record numbers.

Item #24942, $1,600

Political Print of Abraham Lincoln Later Used in 1864 Election

[ABRAHAM LINCOLN]. GABRIEL KAEHRLE, Print. “Abraham Lincoln,” with excerpt from First Inaugural Address, ca. 1861-1864. 9¾ x 12 in.

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An unusual and possibly unique Lincoln portrait above patriotic banners and a quotation from his first inaugural address.

Item #25613, $2,400

Buchanan Supporters Attack Presidential Candidate Frémont as a “Black Republican” Abolitionist

[ELECTION OF 1856], Printed Document. The Fearful Issue to Be Decided in November Next! Shall the Constitution and the Union Stand or Fall? Fremont, The Sectional Candidate of the Advocates of Dissolution! Buchanan, The Candidate of Those Who Advocate One Country! One Union! One Constitution! and One Destiny! 1856. 24 pp., 5 x 8½ in.

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What a Combination! Seward, Greeley, Bennet, Watson Webb, H. Ward Beecher, &c. There can be no doubt that this goodly company will speedily be increased by the addition of Fred. Douglass and his black republicans… The only candidate to arrest this tide of demoralization and sectionalism, is James Buchanan.

This pro-Buchanan election of 1856 pamphlet attacks the first Republican presidential candidate, John C. Frémont. Quoting from the speeches and writings of William Lloyd Garrison, Horace Greeley, Wendell Phillips, Salmon P. Chase, Henry Ward Beecher, William H. Seward, Joshua R. Giddings, this pamphlet ignores distinctions between abolitionists, racial egalitarians, more limited opponents just of the expansion of slavery into the territories, or those who fought the kidnapping of free African Americans under the Fugitive Slave Law. It paints all with the same broad brush as “Black Republican” extreme abolitionists who were willing to destroy the Union rather than remain in it with slaveholders.

Item #24482, $750

Franklin Roosevelt on Need to Raise $3 Million for Warm Springs Foundation

FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT, Autograph Note Signed “FDR” twice in the text, pencil, no place, no date but likely 1939. 2 pp., recto and verso, 4½ x 6½ in. Regarding the need to raise $3,000,000 for the Warm Springs foundation to handle 200 in-patients and 20 out-patients.

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Item #24012.02, $850
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