George Washington Papers

From George Washington to the Delaware Society for Promoting Domestic Manufacturers, 19–20 April 1789

To the Delaware Society for Promoting Domestic Manufacturers

[Wilmington, Del., 19–20 April 1789]


I return you my sincere thanks for your congratulations and good wishes on my appointment to the Presidency of the United States.

Convinced that the happy effects which may be derived from our government, must depend, in a considerable degree, on the determinations of the people to support the person entrusted with the administration; I shall rejoice to find that my acceptance has met with their approbation.

The promotion of domestic manufactures will, in my conception, be among the first consequences which may naturally be expected to flow from an energetic government—For myself having an equal regard for the prosperity of the farming, trading, and manufacturing interests, I will only observe that I cannot conceive the extension of the latter (so far as it may afford employment to a great number of hands which would be otherwise in a manner idle) can be detrimental to the former—On the contrary the concurrence of virtuous individuals and the combination of œconomical Societies to rely as much as possible on the resources of our own country, may be productive of great national advantages, by establishing the habits of industry and œconomy. The objects of your Institution are therefore, in my opinion, highly commendable—and you will permit me to add, Gentlemen, that I propose to demonstrate the sincerity of my opinion on this subject, by the uniformity of my practice, in giving a decided preference to the produce and fabrics of America, whensoever it may be done without involving unreasonable expences, or very great inconveniences.

G. Washington


The Delaware Society for Promoting Domestic Manufactures was founded in January 1788 for the purpose of encouraging and promoting “as much as we reasonably can, the use of American manufactures, by giving them the preference to foreign articles, when there is any reasonable proportion between their prices and goodness.” In addition the members agreed that they would “kill no lamb, for sale, or our family use; nor buy any of the same . . . until the first day of January, 1789.” On that day, they promised, “we will appear in a complete dress of the manufacture of one or more of the united states, at a general meeting to be held on that day” (American Museum, 3 [January 1788], 103–4).

Upon GW’s arrival in Wilmington the society presented him with “our warmest congratulations on your unanimous appointment to the Presidency of the United States of America.

“Penetrated with the most indelible sentiments of veneration and gratitude for your former inestimable services, we participate [in] the lively effusions of joy so universally communicated by your acceptance of the important trust to which you have been so honorably called.

“The establishment of an efficient government over a numerous People inhabiting an immensely extensive country, is a great object, and will require the faithful aid of every wise and virtuous citizen and Patriot: But our hearts are elevated with pleasing prospects of a glorious reformation, especially when we contemplate the approaching period which will afford us the benefit of your superior abilities, disinterested virtue, sage discretion, and illustrious example.

“Our earnest wishes will be unceasing that you may long preside over the councils of America, with uninterrupted harmony, and the conscious delight of promoting the happiness and prosperity of a rising empire.

“Being fully convinced that your Excellency’s parental regard and partiality for a grateful People will incline you to listen with indulgent attention to whatever is designed to be of public utility, we flatter ourselves the Society who have the honor to present this address, having associated themselves under an engagement to clothe themselves in complete suits of domestic manufactures, and encourage every branch of the same, will meet your Excellency’s approbation, and be favorably considered as an additional instance of the federal and patriotic sentiments of the citizens of Delaware” (DLC:GW). The address was signed by David Bush, “Secretary pro tempore.” GW’s reply was published, with a variant version of the society’s address signed by Thomas May "Vice-President," in The Pennsylvania Packet, and Daily Advertiser [Philadelphia], 14 May, and other newspapers.

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