Henry C. Carey’s Practical Economics – The American Conservative

by | Sep 8, 2022 | Financial

The American System found its crowning achievements in the presidency of Abraham Lincoln. As a young Whig, President Lincoln followed the principles of Henry Clay and fed them into his own political and economic thought. But President Lincoln also drew upon the support of economists who shared his commitment to the American System. Henry Charles Carey was the leading light of the new American school of economics and played a crucial role in the founding of the Republican Party as well as the development of its economic policies under President Lincoln.

From the early years of the republic, it was the classical school founded by British and French intellectuals that dominated the American academy and its teaching of political economy. The 1825 Harvard and 1827 Yale catalogs had Jean-Baptiste Say’s A Treatise on Political Economy as their key reading. Academics such as Reverend John McVickar, Dr. Thomas Cooper, and Thomas R. Dew abided by the laissez faire doctrine defined by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, and David Ricardo. Many American economists were taught in Britain or Germany, continuing the domination of European economic thought. The American school would instead have to emerge principally from people with backgrounds in business, journalism, and politics, who wanted an alter …

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