Main content

Hezekiah Niles letters to Mathew Carey


Held at: University of Delaware Library Special Collections [Contact Us]181 South College Avenue, Newark, DE 19717-5267

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the University of Delaware Library Special Collections. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.

Overview and metadata sections

American economist, editor and publisher Hezekiah Niles (1777-1839) created and contributed to the

Weekly Register, which prefigured the national news magazine in its content and circulation.

Born into a Quaker family in Chester County, Pennsylvania, Hezekiah Niles grew up in Wilmington, Delaware. In 1805, Niles began his publishing career with the short-lived literary magazine,

Apollo, in Philadelphia. After moving to Baltimore, he bought the Baltimore Evening Post. In 1811, the first issue of the Niles Weekly Register, later known as Niles' National Register, appeared. The national news magazine gained a wide audience, notably including Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), James Madison (1751-1836), and Andrew Jackson (1767-1845).

Niles attempted to influence politics and economics through his writing, promoting a form of nationalism that held to political isolationism, capitalist democracy, and protectionist tariffs for manufacturers. Directing much of his advice at the American South, he argued for a dramatic shift away from the plantation economy, supporting the diversification of agriculture, and the eventual emancipation of slavery. Through the transformation of the Southern economy, he hoped to resolve tensions between North and South and unify the United States.

After an accident and a stroke that left him paralyzed, Hezekiah Niles retired to Wilmington, Delaware, where he died in 1839.

Zeigler, Stephen M. "Niles, Hezekiah." American National Biography Online. (accessed March 24, 2015).

The newspaper career of Irish-born publisher and economist Mathew Carey (1760-1839) extended from his early years penning critiques of British rule to his later work on a unifying American nationalism. Along with Alexander Hamilton (1757-1804) and Hezekiah Niles (1777-1839), Carey paved the way for the American nationalist school of economic thought.

Born in Dublin, Ireland, in 1760, Mathew Carey published his first essay, a critique of dueling, when he was seventeen years old. A controversial writer, Carey was sent to Paris in 1781 by his family to escape persecution after a reward was put on his head for his articles criticizing British Parliament. There he met Benjamin Franklin and briefly worked at Franklin's printing office. Upon his return to Ireland the next year, he was quickly embroiled in another controversy while directing the

Volunteer's Journal, a publication that supported Irish autonomy from England. In the midst of legal troubles, Carey fled to the United States in 1784.

Carey continued to be involved in the publishing business in Philadelphia. He began launched the newspaper the

Pennsylvania Herald in 1785, the monthlyColumbian Magazine in 1786, and the American Museum in 1787. He married Bridget Flahavan in 1791, and he was elected a director of the Bank of Pennsylvania a year later. Carey used his writing to advocate for his economic principles, including protection of manufacturers. He also tried to influence politics, particularly in the Olive Branch (1814), which attempted to reunite the Federalist and Republican parties.

Although Carey did not leave behind a political or economic system, he was a catalyst for the American nationalist school, particularly through his son Henry Charles Carey (1793-1879).

Green, James N. "Mathew Carey." American National Bibliography Online. (accessed March 24, 2-15)."Mathew Carey." Dictionary of American Biography (reproduced in Biography in Context). (accessed March 24, 2015).

American economist, editor and publisher Hezekiah Niles (1777-1839) wrote fifty-nine letters to his friend Irish publisher and economist Mathew Carey (1760-1839) between 1814 and 1833. The letters covered their concurrent publishing careers, contemporary politics, and the development of their economic theories.

Hezekiah Niles's foremost concern in the letters was writing and publishing, an industry he shared with Mathew Carey. Niles referenced various articles and publications that he and Carey had written, including Carey's

Olive Branch (1814). Niles and Carey commented on one another's works in their correspondence, and Niles frequently invited Carey's appraisals and suggestions on his writing. In turn, he noted receiving Carey's articles and commented on them.

The political and economic issues that Hezekiah Niles focused on in the

Weekly Register played a central role in the letters as well. Niles demonstrated particular concern about the ways in which his politics offended his southern readership and how to gain political support for the tariffs to protect manufacturers. During this period, he was working on a list of manufacturers and followed the elections closely, speculating on the possibility of universal free labor. It is apparent from their correspondence that Carey also regarded Niles as a reliable source of information on national and international political issues.

  1. Box 1: Shelved in SPEC MSS manuscript boxes (1 inch)

Purchase, June 2010.

Processed and encoded by Sean Lovitt, April 2015.

University of Delaware Library Special Collections
Finding Aid Author
University of Delaware Library, Special Collections
Finding Aid Date
2015 April 7
Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research.

Use Restrictions

Use of materials from this collection beyond the exceptions provided for in the Fair Use and Educational Use clauses of the U.S. Copyright Law may violate federal law. Permission to publish or reproduce isrequired from the copyright holder. Please contact Special Collections Department, University of Delaware Library,

Collection Inventory

Letters, 1814-1815.
Box 1 Folder F1
Letters, 1822.
Box 1 Folder F2
Letters, 1823.
Box 1 Folder F3
Letters, 1824-1825.
Box 1 Folder F4
Letters, 1826-1827.
Box 1 Folder F5
Letters, 1828.
Box 1 Folder F6
Letters, 1830-1833.
Box 1 Folder F7

Print, Suggest