James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Tench Coxe, 24 April 1812

From Tench Coxe

Philadelphia April 24th. 1812


I have the honor to inclose to you a copy of a paper,1 which is written, in part, with a view to exemplify the mode in which it is considered, that the press and the operations of the offices or of some proper agents ought steadily to develope the cardinal truths and the practical details, on which are to be founded those vast and important aids, which internal trade can afford to Agriculture. But a principal view of the paper is to render the business of military & naval supply more an object of consideration, than it has heretofore been. If we should have a war with Britain, it would not be surprizing, if she applied the discipline of paper blockades and orders in council to our commerce, as she has done to that of other Countries. On accot. of the war which Spain in 1798 made on England, Sir Horatio Nelson published his proclamation, that it was found right that Spain should no longer have any trade. If such a course shall be taken towards us, manufactures must support our Agriculture, and the woolen manufacture, with some aid from the cotton, must become necessary to effective war.

The manufactory of military goods, such as arms, powder, salt petre & especially the attainment of Sulphur would be an object of the utmost importance.

I beg you to excuse this intrusion, of a subject which the times press upon every faithful Mind. I have the honor to be, Sir Yr. respectful & most obedt. Servt.

Tench Coxe

RC (DLC); enclosure (DLC, series 7). RC docketed by JM. For enclosure, see n. 1.

1Coxe enclosed an article published under the pseudonym “Publicola” in the 23 Apr. 1812 edition of the Philadelphia Democratic Press and entitled “Principles and considerations, which concern the WOOLEN MANUFACTURES Of the United States.” Discussing at length the extent to which British manufacturers supported sheep farming in Great Britain, Coxe urged the U.S. to increase its output of woolen manufactures until it absorbed the domestic production of wool. “We see,” he noted, “that France, Germany and the United States are in constant need of [Great Britain’s] low priced military, naval, indian and laborer’s woolens, her blankets and her common carpets. Were it not for our new cotton we should feel the want in a serious degree.” He also made several recommendations about raising sheep and employing men, women, and children in the household manufacture of woolen goods. In particular, Coxe suggested that Americans pay less attention to the fine wool produced by Spanish merino sheep and instead show more interest in the heavier fleeces grown by British sheep breeders. The resulting improvement in the quantity and quality of both “woollen and worsted goods,” he concluded, “will enable us to supply the army and navy, on a more extensive scale and upon the lowest terms, would facilitate our trade and intercourse with the Indians, and would give our farmers and other citizens, surer and cheaper supplies.”

Index Entries