On this day in 1791

20 Aug

On this day in 1791 Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton disbursed “one hundred Dollars towards providing for the use of Society for the establishment of Manufactures in the State of New Jersey certain machines & models of Machines . . .”

The Society for Establishing Useful Manufactures (S.U.M.), which Hamilton references by a slightly different name, was a public-private partnership intended to industrialize the area around the Great Falls of the Passaic River. By utilizing the falls’ water power, assistant Treasury Secretary Tench Coxe and Hamilton envisioned a planned industrial community that would promote their industrial vision for the United States.

“Hamilton did not lend his prestige to the scheme from afar,” biographer Ron Chernow has written. “In July 1791 . . . he traveled to New York to drum up support for the society’s first stock offering, which sold out instantly.  He then attended the subscribers’ inaugural meeting in New Brunswick, New Jersey.”

Here, Alexander Hamilton similarly “puts his money where his mouth is” by providing William Pearce, an English engineer recruited to work for S.U.M., with $100 to begin building models and machines. Four months later, Hamilton’s policy recommendations were codified in his Report on Manufactures, which capped his efforts to build America’s industrial economy.

See Hamilton’s handwritten receipt, written 221 years ago today . . .

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Posted by on August 20, 2012 in General



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