Hamilton Report on Manufactures TEXT Part VIII

The foregoing heads comprise the most important of the several kinds of manufactures, which have occurred as requiring, and, at the same, as most proper for public encouragement; and such measures for affording it, as have appeared best calculated to answer the end, have been suggested.

The observations which have accompanied this delineation of objects supersede the necessity of many supplementary remarks. One or two, however, may not be altogether superfluous.

Bounties are in various instances proposed as one species of encouragement.

It is a familiar objection to them, that they are difficult to be managed, and liable to frauds.— But neither that difficulty nor this danger seems sufficiently great as to countervail the advantages of which they are productive, when rightly applied. And it is presumed to have been shown, that they are, in some cases, particularly in the infancy of new enterprises, indispensable.

It will, however, be necessary to guard, with extraordinary circumspection, the manner of dispensing them. The requisite precautions have been thought of; but to enter into the detail would swell this report, already voluminous, to a size too inconvenient.

If the principle shall not be deemed inadmissible, the means of avoiding an abuse of it will not be likely to present insurmountable obstacles. There are useful guides from practice in other quarters.

It shall, therefore, only be remarked here, in relation to this point, that any bounty, which may be applied to the manufacture of an article, cannot with safety extend beyond those manufactories, at which the making of the article is a regular trade. It would be impossible to annex adequate precautions to a benefit of that nature, if extended to every private family, in which the manufacture was incidentally carried on; and its being a merely incidental occupation which engages a portion of time that would otherwise be lost, it can be advantageously carried on without so special an aid.

Secondly. To constitute a fund for the operations of a board, to be established, for promoting arts, agriculture, manufactures, and commerce. Of this institution, different intimations have been given, in the course of this report. An outline of a plan for it shall now be submitted.

Let a certain annual sum be set apart, and placed under the management of commissioners, not less than three, to consist of certain officers of the government and their successors in office.

Let these commissioners be empowered to apply the fund confided to them, to defray the expenses of the emigration of artists, and manufacturers, in particular branches of extraordinary importance — to induce the prosecution and introduction of useful discoveries, inventions and improvements, or proportionate rewards, judiciously held out and applied — to encourage by premiums, both honourable and lucrative, the exertions of individuals, and of classes, in relation to the several objects they are charged with promoting — and to afford such other aids to those objects, as may be generally designated by law.

The Commissioners to render to the legislature an annual account of their transactions and disbursements; and all such sums as shall not have been applied to the purposes of their trust, at the end of every three years, to revert to the treasury.

It may also be enjoined upon them, not to draw out the money, but for the purpose of some specific disbursement.

It may, moreover, be of use, to authorize them to receive ' voluntary contributions; making it their duty to apply them to the particular objects for which they may have been made, if any shall have been designated by the donors.

There is reason to believe, that the progress of particular manufactures has been much retarded by the want of skillful workmen. And it often happens that the capitals employed are not equal to the purposes of bringing from abroad workmen of a superior kind. Here, in cases worthy of it, the auxiliary agency of government would in all probability be useful. There are also valuable workmen, in every branch, who are prevented from emigrating solely by the want of means. Occasional aids to such persons, properly administered, might be a source of valuable acquisitions to the country.

The propriety of stimulating by rewards, the invention and: introduction of useful improvements is admitted without difficulty. But the success of attempts in this way must evidently depend much on the manner of conducting them. It is probable, that the placing of the dispensation of those rewards under some proper discretionary direction, where they may be accompanied by collateral expedients serve to give them the surest efficacy. It seems impracticable to apportion, by general rules, specific compensations for discoveries of unknown and disproportionate .utility.

The great use which may be made of a fund of this nature to procure and import foreign improvements is particularly obvious. Among these, the article of machines would form a most important item.

The operation and utility of premiums have been adverted to; together with the advantages which have resulted from their dispensation, under the direction of certain public and private societies. Of this, some experience has been had in the instance of the Pennsylvania Society, for the promotion of manufactures and useful arts; but the funds of that association have been too contracted to produce more than a very small portion of the good to which the principles of it would have led. It may confidently be affirmed, that there is scarcely anything, which has been devised, better calculated to excite a general, spirit of improvement than the institutions of this nature. They are truly invaluable.

In countries where there is great private wealth, much may be effected by the voluntary contributions of patriotic individuals; but in a community situated like that of the United States, the public purse must supply the deficiency of private resource. In what can it be so useful as in promoting and improving the effort of industry?

All which is humblv submitted.

ALEXANDER HAMILTON,

Secretary of the Treasury.