From Samuel Breck1
Boston Sept. 3d. 1791
In conformity with your wishes2 it wou’d afford me great pleasure to make you acquainted with the exact State of the Duck & Glass manufactories in this Town, but an Account of the former having already been communicated, by our Agent, to Mr Gorham to be forwarded to you3 will render any observations on that branch unnecessary except that the demand for our Sail Cloth far exceeds the quantity made, which indeed might be augmented if the Country produced plenty of Flax. The high price however which is now given cannot fail of encouraging the Farmer to raise enough for that & every other object. If the representation above refered to has not reached you I will procure a Copy & forward it. We wait only for Workmen, which are engaged & probably on their passage, to commence making Sheet and other Glass. The director, who appears competent to the business, has prepared every thing. The Ovens, Furnaces & implements of every Kind are in perfect order. Their Cost including the building materials &ca, about Eleven thousand Dollars. It is supposed the quantity capable of being manufactured at these Works will more than supply this Commonwealth, indeed as the materials are abundent in this Country, it may be so extended as to furnish many other States with that necessary article. The bounty given by this State for raising Hemp is ample4 & will, I presume, render our dependence on Rushia much less, & probably in a few years anihilate that Commerce. If the bounty on Duck5 should be continued after January next, it must produce the same effect, but as the Act for that purpose expires in December we fear it will not be revived; however there is much consolation in the reflection that it is always within the power of the united States to secure these great objects.6 I know how precious your time is & therefore will not occupy more of it, except to request you will present Mrs & the Miss Brecks best regards to Mrs. Hamilton & beleive me to be with sentiments the most sincere7
Dear Sir Your Obedient Servant
Honble. Alexander Hamilton Esqr
ALS, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress.
1. Breck was a Boston merchant who was associated with the Boston Duck or Sail Cloth Manufactory and with a glass factory known as the Boston Glass House, to which in 1789 the legislature had granted a fifteen-year monopoly of glass manufacturing.
2. H’s letter to Breck requesting this information has not been found.
4. In 1791 the bounty on hemp grown by citizens of Massachusetts for manufacture within the commonwealth was twelve shillings per “Hundred for every gross Hundred Weight of good merchantable Hemp” (Laws of Massachusetts description begins Acts and Laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts (Boston, 1890–1898). description ends , 1786–1787, 382, 880; 1788–1789, 668).
5. The bounty on duck manufactured in Massachusetts was eight shillings for each piece thirty-eight yards by twenty-eight inches (Laws of Massachusetts description begins Acts and Laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts (Boston, 1890–1898). description ends , 1786–1787, 880; 1788–1789, 668).
6. In the “Report on the Subject of Manufactures,” December 5, 1791, H recommended a bounty of two cents a yard on sailcloth.
7. Davis writes: “In 1791 the works [of the Boston Duck or Sail Cloth Manufactory] were enlarged, and in September of that year Hamilton was informed that two hundred women and girls and fifty men were employed and that the capital invested amounted to $4000 in buildings and $2200 in tools, etc.” (Davis, Essays description begins Joseph Stancliffe Davis, Essays in the Earlier History of American Corporations (“Harvard Economic Studies,” XVI [Cambridge, 1917]). description ends , II, 261). Davis gives as his source for this statement: “Breck to Hamilton, Sept. 3, 1791, in Hamilton Papers [Library of Congress].” This information is not in the letter printed above, but may be found in the enclosures to Gorham to H, October 13, 1791.