George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Thomas Hatfield, 5 April 1797

From Thomas Hatfield

Philadelphia April 5. 1797


Being impressed with your ardent desire to promote the Arts, and Sciences, in America; Allow me Sir to address you on the subject of establishing a Manufactory of Cotton in the City of Washington. I have conversed on the practicability of it, with several respectable Gentlemen, who feel anxious that a manufacture may be introduced there.

On the first proposal of the Columbianum for the promotion of Painting, Sculpture, Architecture, and Engraving; the idea sudgested itself to me that this Manufacture would be accepted as a collateral branch of the fine Arts.1 From a confidance I feel, in your having (every opportunity) proposed Schools of Arts, and establishments of Manufactures; I hope you will not consider me intruding on your time by proposing what I sincerely wish may tend to the Welfare of the City. It is a Manufacture which is itself, divided into Various Branches, and consequently will require a capital beyond the general extent of an individual—I have in New York a quantity of Machinery, of the most modern construction to facilitate labour; and if necessary funds would be appropriated, I should consider it a duty to introduce this in the Federal City only.

The Manufacture I trust I am generally acquainted with, and should be happy to be an active character in prosecuting so valuable (and what would necessarily attract the attention, not only of those interested in the City, but of the disinterested) for the welfare of it. One great object would be, to employ the young Children, who are now, (if I may be allowed the expression) an incumberance on every Plantation.

From a small alteration in the Machinery a Sail Cloth Manufactory may be applied, as occasion requires, which eventually may be an object of the most mature consideration to the United States. The plan of an establishment, if it is concurrent with your sentiments, would no doubt, be immediately adopted. I am with the greatest regard your obedient Hum. Sert

Thos Hatfield

ALS, DLC:GW. Hatfield wrote on the back of the letter: “My Address—Thos Hatfield Wentworth near Bladensburgh Maryland.”

1“The Columbianum or National College for the encouragement of Painting, sculpture, Architecture, and Engraving” was formed in Philadelphia in 1794 largely through the efforts of Charles Willson Peale and included a number of foreign and American artists. See George J. Parkyns to GW, 21 Feb. 1795. Parkyns enclosed in his letter a number of papers pertaining to the organization and purposes of the association of artists, all of which are in DNA: RG 59. These enclosures are printed in Miller, Peale Papers description begins Lillian B. Miller, ed. The Selected Papers of Charles Willson Peale and His Family. 4 vols. New Haven, 1983–96. description ends , 2:103–7. The institution lasted only about a year. See also ibid., 109–13, and James Thomas Flexner, “The Scope of Painting in the 1790’s,” Pa. Mag., description begins Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography. 138 vols. to date. 1877—. description ends 74 (1950), 74–89.

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