Reciprocity and Henry C. Carey’s Traverses on 'The Road to Perfect Freedom of Trade'

Journal of the History of Economic Thought, vol. 33, no. 3 (September 2011), pp. 307-333

55 Pages Posted: 18 Jul 2010 Last revised: 4 Aug 2013

See all articles by Stephen Meardon

Stephen Meardon

Bowdoin College - Department of Economics

Date Written: February 14, 2010

Abstract

Free trade and protectionist doctrines have long had ambiguous relationships to bilateral trade deals, known throughout the nineteenth century as “reciprocity” arrangements. Henry C. Carey, “the Ajax of Protection” in the nineteenth-century United States, represents well the ambiguity from one side of the controversy. Carey’s early adulthood in the mid to late 1820s was a time when the forerunners of the Whig Party pursued reciprocity at least partly as a means of fostering protection. In the 1830s, Carey, too, endorsed reciprocity – because he stood for free trade and believed reciprocity would promote it. In the 1840s and 1850s Carey changed his mind, decided that protection was the real “road to perfect freedom of trade,” and for that reason opposed reciprocity with Canada. In the 1870s he remained a protectionist but reconciled his doctrine with reciprocity. This paper attempts to explain the changes in the disposition toward reciprocity of America’s foremost protectionist thinker from the Second Party System to the generation after the Civil War.

Keywords: Carey, Henry C., reciprocity, trade agreements, free trade, protectionism

JEL Classification: B31, N41, F13

Suggested Citation

Meardon, Stephen J., Reciprocity and Henry C. Carey’s Traverses on 'The Road to Perfect Freedom of Trade' (February 14, 2010). Journal of the History of Economic Thought, vol. 33, no. 3 (September 2011), pp. 307-333, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1641352

Stephen J. Meardon (Contact Author)

Bowdoin College - Department of Economics ( email )

9700 College Station
Brunswick, ME 04011
United States

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