Mathew Carey (1760-1839) was an economist and publicist who played a major role in the revival of the American System after Hamilton’s system had been basically abandoned by the Federalist Party, as well as the Democratic Republicans. As editor of the American Museum magazine (1787-1792), Carey published Hamilton’s seminal reports (among others), therefore giving them wider circulation outside the government. Then, in the period from 1814 to 1820, he launched a campaign to revive Hamilton’s economics as an essential programmatic feature of a new nationalist movement, which would supersede the two feuding political parties.
Carey’s seminal work on this crucial reorientation was “The Olive Branch,” of which he did a second version called “The New Olive Branch” in 1820. In this second piece he laid out the “identity of interest between agriculture, manufactures, and commerce,” arguing that “national industry is the only legitimate source of national wealth and prosperity,” and that the health of all the sectors of the economy depends upon its development. Over the following two decades, Carey produced hundreds of pamphlets, newspaper articles, and memorials to Congress promoting the tariff and the expansion of manufacturing in the United States. His Essays on Political Economy, published in 1822, explicitly promoted Hamilton’s policy of developing the United States as an industrial nation. His Philadelphia-based publishing house Carey & Lea was a major source of publications on the American System.
Carey also played an active organizing role, including within the Pennsylvania Society for the Promotion of Manufactures and the Mechanical Arts. He was involved in educating others on the American System, including economist Friedrich List, whom he helped sponsor in coming to the United States from Germany.