Hezekiah Niles as an Economist

Hezekiah Niles as an Economist

Hezekiah Niles as an Economist

Hezekiah Niles as an Economist

Excerpt

Hezekiah Niles was one of the outstanding members of the group of American nationalist economic writers who opposed the doctrines of the classical school of English philosophers. This latter group claimed Adam Smith as the father of their science, and Malthus, Ricardo, James Mill, and others less well known, to be apostles whose duty it was to carry on the missionary work and interpret the gospel of free trade for the benefit of the benighted peoples of other countries.

Niles was born during the Revolutionary War, grew to manhood during the period of the Napoleonic struggle, witnessed the economic subjugation of the United States to the belligerent nations, and as a result of these influences, became intensely nationalistic in thought and sought to foster those practices which would make the American people independent in fact as well as in name.

The phrase American System he did not adopt until 1824, but from the time of his earliest writing, he was advocating the measures which later he embodied in the System. The last three chapters of the present study contain his principal life interests, all of which were of economic importance to people in his day, and every one, with the exception of slavery, is the subject of reflection of most political economists at present.

As early as 1805, he was writing articles in which he advocated the advancement of home industry, but it was not until 1811 that he definitely arrayed himself on the side of the protectionists, in a battle which was to last a quarter of a century. The first number of his Register sounded the key note, and issued a challenge to the patriotism of the citizens of the United States. A quotation from this introductory address on "Domestic Manufactures" will serve to show his complete rejection of the Smithian theory of international free trade.

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