Henry Charles Carey was an early American economist. He began his life in business, but after experiencing an economic depression, which he survived by selling his publishing business before the worst depression hit, he decided to study and write about economic theory. His work is considered foundational to American economics.
Carey introduced an optimistic view on economics, more fitting to the American economical situation, rejecting what he considered the pessimistic "British" classical economics. He realized that the market itself cannot always work for the benefit of the whole, due to numerous anomalies like, for example, monopoly or war. Based on such observations he changed his view of free trade, realizing that government might often be necessary to prevent selfish individuals from working against the public good. He thus advocated for the governmental regulation of economy, through the use of tariffs or similar protectionist policies.
Carey also believed that there were natural economic laws that operated to maintain balance and support the prosperity of society as a whole, and for all its members. However, he also acknowledged that there were many occasions on which human intervention blocked such positive economic progress. Particularly, he noted that a young nation had to protect itself, in the form of protectionist tariffs, in order to develop a strong position in the world. Carey also rejected slavery in any form as support for the economic growth of any nation.
Generally optimistic, Carey did have deep insights into the natural economic dynamics. Moreover, he recognized that selfish human beings often prevented such dynamics from working smoothly. As human beings advance in maturity, learning to live for the sake of others, more of Carey's optimism may come to fruition.