Hamilton to the House: Report on Manufactures, Skins



Alexander Hamilton was a Founding Father, soldier, economist, political philosopher, one of America’s first constitutional lawyers and the first United States Secretary of the Treasury.

Alexander Hamilton was a Founding Father, soldier, economist, political philosopher, one of America’s first constitutional lawyers and the first United States Secretary of the Treasury.

Alexander Hamilton: The Works of Alexander Hamilton, Volume 4


Industry and Commerce, Manufactures, Skins: Hamilton to the House of Representatives, December 5, 1791. Part Seven.


Skins

There are scarcely any manufactories of greater importance than of this article. Their direct and very happy influence upon agriculture, by promoting the raising of cattle of different kinds, is a very material recommendation.

It is pleasing, too, to observe the extensive progress they have made in their principal branches, which are so far matured as almost to defy foreign competition. Tanneries, in particular, are not only carried on as a regular business, in numerous instances, and in various parts of the country, but they constitute, in some places, a valuable item of incidental family manufactures.

Representations, however, have been made, importing the expediency of further encouragement to the leather branch, in two ways: one by increasing the duty on the manufactures of it which are imported; the other, by prohibiting the exportation of bark. In support of the latter, it is alleged, that the price of bark, chiefly in consequence of large exportations, has risen, within a few years, from about three dollars to four and a half per cord.

These suggestions are submitted, rather as intimations which merit consideration, than as matters the propriety of which is manifest. It is not clear that an increase of duty is necessary; and in regard to the prohibitions desired, there is no evidence of any considerable exportation hitherto; and it is most probable, that whatever augmentation of price may have taken place, is to be attributed to an extension of the home demand, from the increase of manufactures, and to a decrease of the supply, in consequence of the progress of settlement, rather than to the quantities which have been exported.

It is mentioned, however, as an additional reason for the prohibition, that one species of the bark usually exported, is in some sort peculiar to the country, and the material of a very valuable dye, of great use in some other manufactures, in which the United States have begun a competition.

There may also be this argument in favor of an increase of duty. The object is of importance enough to claim decisive encouragement, and the progress which has been made leaves no room to apprehend any inconvenience on the score of supply, from such an increase.

It would be of benefit to this branch, if glue, which is now rated at five per cent., were made the object of an excluding duty. It is already made, in large quantities, at various tanneries, and, like paper, is an entire economy of materials, which, if not manufactured, would be left to perish. It may be placed, with advantage, in the class of articles paying fifteen per cent.


Posting the entire Works of Alexander Hamilton is a project of Steven Montgomery. I’m posting these as a way to read and digest the works of Alexander Hamilton. The reader could profit by following along daily.

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