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Measures Never Adopted

August 29, 2018

“It was not the election of General Harrison that was expected to produce happy effects, but the measures to be adopted by his administration. By means of his death, and the unexpected course of his successor, those measures were never adopted.”

That’s what Abraham Lincoln said about the late President William Henry Harrison in 1843.  What exactly were these “measures…  never adopted?”  Since Lincoln was a Whig and a proponent of Henry Clay’s “American System,” we can easily guess what Lincoln had in mind.  However, that is not necessary.  We simply need to read the campaign circular from which the above paragraph is taken.

One of the items mentioned by Lincoln was “the necessity and propriety of a National Bank.”

Lincoln defended the constitutionality of such an institution by reminding everyone that “the first National Bank was established chiefly by the same men who formed the constitution, at a time when that instrument was but two years old, receiving the sanction, as President, of the immortal Washington; that the second received the sanction, as President, of Mr. Madison, to whom common consent has awarded the proud title of ‘Father of the Constitution;’ and subsequently the sanction of the Supreme Court, the most enlightened judicial tribunal in the world.”

In these few words Lincoln showed the reasonableness of the Whig position.  Harrison would have signed legislation to resurrect the Bank of the United States, but he died unexpectedly.  His successor vetoed the bill, thereby obstructing any “happy effects” that may have resulted.

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