The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
VOLUME XVIII. Later National Literature, Part III.

XXIV. Economists

§ 10. Henry C. Carey

All of these were cast into the shade by the one American author who soon acquired an international reputation. Henry C. Carey (1793–1879), the son of Mathew Carey, was well in the forties before he commenced to write. Beginning in 1835 with his Essay on the Rate of Wages he published in rapid succession a flood of pamphlets as well as a series of volumes. Chief among the latter are the Principles of Political Economy (3 vols., 1837–40); The Past, the Present, the Future (1848); The Harmony of Interests (1850); The Slave Trade (1853); Principles of Social Science (3 vols., 1858–59); and The Unity of Law (1872). Carey started out as a free trader, but soon became an ardent protectionist and took issue at almost every point with the doctrines of the classical school. He opposed Adam Smith on the theory of productive labour; he objected to the Ricardian theories of rent and wages; he criticized the Malthusian theory of population; he laid stress on his own law of value and utility; and he elaborated, on original but none the less secure foundations, a whole structure of economic thought. At a time when the field was occupied by the American imitators of British classical political economy and by the widely read translations of Bastiat, the French free trader, Carey heartened all those both at home and abroad who were seeking some economic basis for the newer nationalism with its policy of protection. Great as was the influence that he exercised at the time, later generations have found but little of enduring value in his contributions to economic science; and toward the end of his career he weakened his influence by espousing the inflationist currency arguments. At the time, however, Carey formed a school which counted among its adherents thinkers like Dühring in Germany and Ferrara in Italy, and which included at home three Pennsylvania publicists: William Elder, who wrote Questions of the Day, Economic and Social (1871); E. Peshine Smith, A Manual of Political Economy (1873); and Robert Ellis Thompson, Social Science and National Economy (1875) as well as several other works on protection. Belonging in part to the same school is Stephen Colwell’s A Preliminary Essay to the Translation of List’s National System of Political Economy (1856), with a good historical sketch of the science in which he declared his variance at some points from Carey. Colwell also wrote Ways and Means of Payment: a Full Analysis of the Credit System (1859).