Mathew Carey: Pamphleteer for Freedom
Semi-crippled and with a poor school record, Mathew Carey should never have succeeded in anything, especially as he was also a Catholic in the intolerant Ireland of 1775. But by the age of 15 he’d gotten himself apprenticed to a Dublin printer and bookseller. At 17, he had anonymously penned an incendiary pamphlet entitled The Urgent Necessity of the Repeal of the Penal Code against Roman Catholics, and had to escape to France. There, meeting Benjamin Franklin, he gained a friend and ally. In 1784, fleeing Ireland a second time, he landed in Franklin’s hometown of Philadelphia—the perfect place, at the perfect moment. With the Constitutional issue being debated daily in the State House, Carey listened in on every session, memorizing the argued points to print in his newspaper, effectively defending the necessity of a strong Constitution. So began a long and fruitful career of printing, publishing and bookselling, always on behalf of the important issues being debated in the fledgling nation. A faithful Catholic and family man, Mathew Carey’s strong sense of justice, exceptional memory and verbal gifts, his generosity and diligence (and a flare for colorful adventures) all contributed to the part he played in the founding of the brand new United States of America.