Mathew Carey’s son Henry Charles Carey (1793-1879) continued his father’s approach, while serving as the key economic advisor to President Abraham Lincoln. Carey took over his father’s publishing operation, but by 1840 had become an author on the principles of the American System; his first book was a four volume work Principles of Political Economy. In addition to his arguments for protection of American industry and the American worker, he developed further the ingredients required for increasing the productivity of labor, polemicizing strongly for developing the intellectual qualities of the work force.
One of Henry Carey’s major emphases was opposition to Malthusianism, which he said was at the core of the British laissez-faire system. To the contrary, Carey said, with the development of new technologies and the proper government policy (including infrastructure development) there was no need to worry about “overpopulation.”
Like Hamilton, Carey asserted that wealth was not based in silver and gold, but in the fostering of the productive powers of labor. To achieve prosperity, however, labor, capital, and agriculturalists must work together in what he called A Harmony of Interest. His book by this name documents how a protectionist policy fosters such harmony—including between nations.
One of Carey’s most significant impacts came through his role in the Republican Party. He wrote the economics platform on which Lincoln was nominated for President, and supplied his own students and associates for the Lincoln administration’s program of industrial and infrastructure development. Carey also played a role in promoting this American System policy in relation to Russia, Japan, and Germany. He notably took up the battle against British free trade as it played out in the British opium wars against China, with writings excoriating the British barbarism in those wars.
Allen Salisbury’s essay, cited above for Mathew Carey, is the most valuable overall summary available. Other articles can be found at and in Executive Intelligence Review.
The Harmony of Interests: Agricultural, Manufacturing, and Commercial, 1856
Principles of Political Economy, 1837-40
Principles of Social Science, 1857-58