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The Prospectus of the Society for Establishing Useful Manufactures
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Contrasting with the agrarian view of many Virginia founding fathers, New Yorker Alexander Hamilton saw an industrial future for the United States. After nearly two years of study and with the aid of Assistant Secretary Tench Coxe, Secretary of the Treasury Hamilton compiled his famed Report on Manufactures at the request of Congress. With the Society for Establishing Useful Manufactures, Coxe and Hamilton advocate creating the nation’s first public-private partnership to develop the area around the Great Falls of the Passaic River, using the cataract for power.

[ALEXANDER HAMILTON]. Newspaper. Gazette of the United States, September 10, 1791. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: John Fenno. 4 pp., 10 x 16 in. The prospectus is printed on the front page in three columns.

Inventory #30014.06       Price: $2,500

Historical Background

The Society for Establishing Useful Manufactures (S.U.M.) was a public-private partnership to industrialize the area around the Great Falls of the Passaic River. By utilizing the falls’ water power, Hamilton envisioned a planned industrial community that would promote his industrial vision for the United States.

Although no manuscript of the prospectus of the Society in Hamilton’s handwriting has been found, scholars have generally attributed primary authorship to him.[1]

Chartered by New Jersey Governor William Paterson in 1791, S.U.M. was exempt from property taxes for a decade. Washington, D.C. designer Pierre L’Enfant had grand designs for the races and sluiceways to harness the waterpower, but he was soon replaced by the more pragmatic Peter Colt. The society founded the town of Paterson (named after the state’s governor) as one of the first planned industrial centers in the United States. After a shaky start, cotton manufacturing took off in the late 1790s, followed by steel and locomotive manufacturing in the mid-nineteenth century. In the 1880s, Paterson was the center of American silk production. The venture presaged future public-private partnerships.

In addition, this issue contains a report on Joseph Brant, the famous Mohawk Indian Chief (p3/c1-2); a portion of the new constitution of Poland (p4/c1-2); and other national, international, and local Philadelphia news and advertisements.


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