James Madison Papers

From James Madison to Dominick Lynch Jr., 27 June 1817

To Dominick Lynch Jr.

Montpellier June 27. 1817


I have recd. your letter of the 18th. inst.1 informing me that “the Amn. Society for the encouragemt of domestic manufactures,” have been pleased to elect me one of its members.

Altho’ I approve the policy of leaving to the sagacity of individuals, and to the impulse of private interest, the application of industry & capital, I am equally persuaded, that in this as in other cases, there are exceptions to the general rule, which do not impair the principle of it. Among these exceptions, is the policy of encouraging domestic manufactures, within certain limits, and in reference to certain articles.

Without entering into a detailed view of the subject, it may be remarked, that every prudent nation will wish to be independent of other nations, for the necessary articles of food, of raiment, and of defence; and particular considerations applicable to the U.S. seem to strengthen the motives to this independence.

Besides the articles falling under this above description, there may be others for manufacturing which natural advantages exist, which require temporary interpositions for bringing them into regular & successful activity.

Where the fund of industry is acquired by emigrations from abroad, and not withdrawn nor witheld from other domestic employments, the case speaks for itself.

I will only add, that among the articles of consumption and use the preference in many cases, is decided merely by fashion or by habits. As far as an equality, and still more where a real superiority is found in the articles manufactured at home, all must be sensible that it is politic and patriotic to encourage a preference for them; as affording a more certain source of supply for every class, and a more certain market for the surplus product of the Agricultural class.

With these sentiments, I beg you to make my acknowlegements for the mark of distinction conferred on me; and which I accept from a respect for the Society and for its objects rather than from any hope of being useful as a member. To your self, Sir I tender my friendly respects.


Draft (DLC). Above the dateline is JM’s note, “Domestic Manufactures.” Filed with the draft is a slip of paper, in JM’s hand: “For proof that a protection of Manufactures by the new Govt. in prospect, was expected—see the Report of Managers &c Jany 1788 Carey’s Musm. Vol 3. p. 179.2 / For state &c. of Manufactures see circulr. from Boston Museum for Octr. 1788 p. 3473 for July 88. page 60—notes of Manufacturing Socy in the Phila. federal processio⟨n⟩ in allusion to the new Constn. as the rising Sun ‘in its rays we shall feel new vigour’—wth. Manufacturing symbols on the carr & another motto ‘may Govt protect us’—again may the Union Govt. protect the manufactures of America4 see the other mottos, in the same procession—& in other processions.” The letter was printed in Niles’ Weekly Register 12 (23 Aug. 1817): 413.

2The “Report of the managers of the Pennsylvania society for the encouragement of manufactures and the useful arts addressed to their constituents, January 18, 1788” (The American Museum; or, Repository of Ancient and Modern Fugitive Pieces &c. Prose and Poetical 3 [1788]: 179), concluded that the association, if properly supported, would be beneficial to the public. “It will serve to collect an useful fund of information, for the service of the public, and of individuals; to distinguish those manufactures, which may be undertaken with success; to suggest means for their improvement and extension; and to become a centre of union to the manufacturing interest in general.”

3The “Copy of a circular letter from the tradesmen and manufacturers of the town of Boston, to their brethren in the several sea ports in the union,” 20 Aug. 1788 (ibid., 4 [1788]: 347), to which JM referred, pointed to the success of the association in convincing the Massachusetts legislature to pass protective tariffs.

4JM referred here to the “Account of the grand federal procession in Philadelphia, July 4, 1788” (ibid., 4 [1788]: 57–70). Occupying twenty-ninth place in the parade was the Manufacturing Society, which displayed carding and spinning machines and a lace loom, among other devices, on a thirty-foot carriage.

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