Hamilton to the House: Report on Manufactures: Printed Books



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, Printed Books: Hamilton to the House of Representatives, December 5, 1791. Part Sixteen.


Printed Books

The great number of presses disseminated throughout the Union, seem to afford an assurance that there is no need of being indebted to foreign countries for the printing of the books which are used in the United States. A duty of ten per cent., instead of five, which is now charged upon the article, would have a tendency to aid the business internally.

It occurs as an objection to this, that it may have an unfavorable aspect toward literature, by raising the price of books in universal use in private families, schools, and other seminaries of learning. But the difference, it is conceived, would be without effect.

As to books which usually fill the libraries of the wealthier classes and of professional men, such an augmentation of price as might be occasioned by an additional duty of five per cent., would be too little felt to be an impediment to the acquisition.

And with regard to books which may be specially imported for the use of particular seminaries of learning, and of public libraries, a total exemption from duty would be advisable, which would go far towards obviating the objection just mentioned. They are now subject to a duty of five per cent.

As to the books in most general family use, the constancy and universality of the demand would insure exertions to furnish them at home, and the means are completely adequate. It may also be expected ultimately, in this as in other cases, that the extension of the domestic manufacture would conduce to the cheapness of the article.

It ought not to pass unremarked, that to encourage the printing of books is to encourage the manufacture of paper.


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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