Stephen Colwell (1800–1871) lived most of his life among the Philadelphia elite, enjoying a long and distinguished career as an industrialist and philanthropist. He also had considerable abilities as an economic thinker. Although never a professor of political economy, Colwell followed these issues with great interest and contributed to them himself as an avowed protectionist. He was a close friend of Henry C. Carey, one of the most influential American political economists in the nineteenth century, and he participated regularly in the “Carey Vespers,” in which prominent Philadelphia leaders and intellectuals gathered to discuss business, politics, and the arts. It is difficult to say exactly why Colwell was so receptive to socialism in the first place—what it was in his personality or background that might have predisposed him to it—but the turning point seemed to have come on a trip he took to Europe sometime early in his second marriage.
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