Hamilton to the House: Report on Manufactures, Wool

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, Wool: Hamilton to the House of Representatives, December 5, 1791. Part Eleven.


In a country, the climate of which partakes of so considerable a proportion of winter, as that of a great part of the United States, the woollen branch cannot be regarded as inferior to any, which relates to the clothing of the inhabitants.

Household manufactures of this material are carried on in different parts of the United States, to a very interesting extent; but there is only one branch, which, as a regular business, can be said to have acquired maturity. This is the making of hats.

Hats of wool, and of wool mixed with fur, are made in large quantities, in different States; and nothing seems wanting, but an adequate supply of materials, to render the manufacture commensurate with the demand.

A promising essay, towards the fabrication of cloths, cassimeres, and other wollen goods, is likewise going on at Hartford, in Connecticut. Specimens of the different kinds which are made, in the possession of the Secretary, evince that these fabrics have attained a very considerable degree of perfection. Their quality certainly surpasses anything that could have been looked for in so short a time, and under so great disadvantages; and conspires, with the scantiness of the means, which have been at the command of the directors, to form the eulogium of that public spirit, perseverance, and judgment, which have been able to accomplish so much.

To cherish and bring to maturity this precious embryo, must engage the most ardent wishes and proportionable regret, as far as the means of doing it may appear difficult or uncertain.

Measures which should tend to promote an abundant supply of wool, of good quality, would probably afford the most efficacious aid that present circumstances permit.

To encourage the raising and improving the breed of sheep, at home, would certainly be the most desirable expedient for that purpose; but it may not be alone sufficient, especially as it is, yet, a problem, whether our wool be capable of such a degree of improvement as to render it fit for the finer fabrics.

Premiums would probably be found the best means of promoting the domestic, and bounties the foreign supply. The first may be within the compass of the institution, hereafter to be submitted. The last would require a specific legislative provision. If any bounties are granted, they ought, of course, to be adjusted with an eye to quality as well as quantity.

A fund for the purpose may be derived from the addition of two and a half per cent. to the present rate of duty on carpets and carpeting; an increase to which the nature of the articles suggests no objection, and which may, at the same time, furnish a motive the more to the fabrication of them at home, towards which some beginnings have been made.

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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