The present state of manufactures, commerce, interior and exterior trade?
Manufactures We never had an interior trade of any importance. Our exterior commerce has suffered very much from the beginning of the present contest. During this time we have manufactured within our families the most necessary articles of cloathing. Those of cotton will bear some comparison with the same kinds of manufacture in Europe; but those of wool, flax and hemp are very coarse, unsightly, and unpleasant: and such is our attachment to agriculture, and such our preference for foreign manufactures, that be it wise or unwise, our people will certainly return as soon as they can, to the raising raw materials, and exchanging them for finer manufactures than they are able to execute themselves.
oeconomists of Europe have established it as a principle that every state
should endeavour to manufacture for itself: and this principle, like many
others, we transfer to America, without calculating the difference of circumstance
which should often produce a difference of result. In Europe the
lands are either cultivated, or locked up against the cultivator.
Manufacture must therefore be resorted to of necessity not of choice, to
support the surplus of their people. But we have an immensity of
land courting the industry of the husbandman. Is it best then that
all our citizens should be employed in its improvement, or that one half
should be called off from that to exercise manufactures and handicraft
arts for the other? Those who labour in the earth are the chosen
people of God, if ever he had a chosen people, whose breasts he has made
his peculiar deposit for substantial and genuine virtue. It is the focus
in which he keeps alive that sacred fire, which otherwise might escape
from the face of the earth. Corruption of morals in the mass of cultivators
is a phaenomenon of which no age nor nation has furnished an example.
It is the mark set on those, who not looking up to heaven, to their own
soil and industry, as does the husbandman, for their subsistance, depend
for it on the casualties and caprice of customers. Dependance begets
subservience and venality, suffocates the germ of virtue, and prepares
fit tools for the designs of ambition. This, the natural progress
and consequence of the arts, has sometimes perhaps been retarded by accidental
circumstances: but, generally speaking, the proportion which the aggregate
of the other classes of citizens bears in any state to that of its husbandmen,
is the proportion of its unsound to its healthy parts, and is a good-enough
barometer whereby to measure its degree of corruption. While we have
land to labour then, let us never wish to see our citizens occupied at
a work-bench, or twirling a distaff. Carpenters, masons, smiths,
are wanting in husbandry: but, for the general operations of manufacture,
let our work-shops remain in Europe. It is better to carry provisions
and materials to workmen there, than bring them to the provisions and materials,
and with them their manners and principles. The loss by the transportation
of commodities across the Atlantic will be made up in happiness and permanence
of government. The mobs of great cities add just so much to the support
of pure government, as sores do to the strength of the human body.
It is the manners and spirit of a people which preserve a republic in vigour.
A degeneracy in these is a canker which soon eats to the heart of its laws