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“A Reciprocity of Advantages”: Carey, Hamilton, and the American Protective Doctrine


The roots of Mathew Carey’s protectionist ideas, and their connection with those of the most famous early proponent of protection for domestic manufactures, Alexander Hamilton, are subjects of dispute. Carey himself disclaimed much knowledge of political economy before 1819, and, until recently, the historiography on Carey echoed him. After 1819 Carey claimed the mantle of Hamilton’s protectionism, a claim that scholars have come recently to deny. The denial is due to doubts not about Carey’s trade doctrine but about Hamilton’s. This essay argues for the continuity of Carey’s protectionism over the course of his career as a publisher and polemicist, dating from his early efforts in Ireland up to 1784 and continuing afterward in the United States, and for the commonality of his doctrine with Hamilton’s. The argument turns on Hamilton’s notion, in his Report on Manufactures, of “a reciprocity of advantages.”