Matthew Carey, an American publisher and author, born in Dublin, Ireland, Jan. 28, 1760, died in Philadelphia, Sept. 16, 1839. At the age of 15 years he began to learn the business of printer and bookseller, and two years later published a pamphlet on duelling, followed soon after by an address to the Irish Catholics on their oppression by the penal code, which was so inflammatory that it caused his flight to Paris. After remaining there a year he returned to Ireland, where he edited for a short time the "Freeman's Journal," and in 1783 established the "Volunteer's Journal," which soon obtained a very extensive circulation by its bold and uncompromising advocacy of measures of the opposition, which led soon after to the recognition by Great Britain of the legislative independence of Ireland. On account of an attack upon parliament and the ministry he was in 1784 arraigned before the house of commons for libel, and committed to Newgate, where he was imprisoned until the dissolution of parliament. After his liberation he sailed for America, arriving at Philadelphia Nov. 15, 1784, and two months after started " The Pennsylvania Herald," the first newspaper in America which furnished accurate reports of legislative debates, Carey acting as his own reporter.
He fought a duel with Col. Oswald, the editor of a rival journal, and received a wound which confined him to his house for more than 16 months. Soon after he began the publication of " The American Museum," which he conducted for six years with much ability but little success. In 1791 he married, and began business as a bookseller on a very humble scale. During the prevalence of the yellow fever, two years later, he was a member of the committee of health, and active in his study of the disease and attentions to the sick; and the results of his extensive observation were collected and published in his "History of the Yellow Fever of 1793," In the same year he founded the Hibernian society. In 1796 he was one of a few citizens who united under the direction of Bishop White in the formation of the first American Sunday school society. In 1810 he engaged warmly in the discussions concerning the United States bank, writing articles for newspapers, and publishing pamphlets which he distributed at his own expense.
In 1814 appeared his " Olive Branch, or Faults on both sides, Federal and Democratic," designed to harmonize the antagonistic parties of the country, pending the war with Great Britain. It passed through 10 editions, and is yet regarded as high authority in regard to the political history of that period. In 1819 he published his Vindicim Hibernicce, an examination and refutation of the charges against his countrymen in reference to the butcheries alleged to have been committed by them in the rebellion of 1641. From this time he devoted himself almost exclusively to politico-commercial pursuits, publishing in 1820 the "New Olive Branch," in which he endeavored to show how harmonious were the real interests of the various portions of society; and in 1822, "Essays on Political Economy." This was followed by a series of tracts, extending to more than 2,000 pages. The object of all these publications was to demonstrate the necessity of the protective system, as the only means of promoting the real interests of all classes of the community.
He was active in the promotion of all the public works of his city and state, and advocated the system of internal improvements which led to the construction of the Pennsylvania canals; and he was active in promoting education, and in forming associations for the relief of those unable to help themselves. In 1833-'4 he contributed his autobiography to the " New England Magazine".