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Hamilton’s Back-Door Implementation of His Report on Manufactures Tariff Proposals, in Jefferson-Signed Act of Congress Raising Funds to Protect the Nation’s Frontier
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Available as part of The Alexander Hamilton Collection

While Hamilton’s Report on Manufactures is now acknowledged as one of the greatest of American economic papers, Congress promptly tabled it upon delivery in December 1791. Having won the hard-fought battle for his Assumption Plan, he did not push for its adoption. But in March 1792, Congress requested ideas to raise additional revenues needed to defend the nation’s Western frontiers from British Forces and their Indian allies. Hamilton was able to answer the call for funding with the present act’s import tariffs, which boosted American manufactures.

THOMAS JEFFERSON. Document Signed as Secretary of State. An Act for raising a farther sum of Money for the Protection of the Frontiers, and for other Purposes therein mentioned. May 2, 1792, [Philadelphia]. Signed in type by George Washington as President, Jonathan Trumbull as Speaker of the House of Representatives, and Richard Henry Lee as President pro tempore of the Senate. 4 pp., 9½ x 15 in.

Inventory #24196      

Wines, namely: Madeira, of the quality of London particular, per gallon, fifty-six cents … Sherry, per gallon, thirty-three cents … Spirits, distilled wholly or chiefly from grain: of the first class of proof, per gallon, twenty-eight cents … All other distilled spirits … twenty-five cents … Beer, ale and porter, per gallon, eight cents; steel, per hundred weight, one hundred cents; nails, per pound, two cents; cocoa, per pound, two cents; chocolate, per pound, three cents; playing cards per pack, twenty-five cents; shoes and slippers of silk, twenty cents....

In the Journal of Economic History, September 2004, economic historian Douglas Irwin pointed out that a series of scholars had underestimated the Report’s effect on policy: “It is true that Congress never considered the report as a package, and that Hamilton’s proposals for bounties and other subsidies were not seriously debated. But Hamilton worked to ensure that Congress enacted virtually every tariff recommendation in the report within five months of its delivery. After pushing the report’s tariff proposals through Congress, Hamilton yielded to the political opposition to further government support for manufacturing and did not pursue the matter further.”

Kentucky was not admitted as the 15th state until June 1, 1792, so Jefferson very likely signed only 28 copies of this Act. Of those, this is the only Jefferson-signed copy known in private hands, with the Huntington Library holding the only located institutional copy.

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