Adams Papers

Wednesday [19 November].
[from the Diary of John Adams]

Wednesday [19 November].1

Dined at Badcocks, with McKenzie. He pretends to Mechanicks, and Manufactures. He owns the snuff Mill, and he is about setting up some Machine to hull our Barley. One Welsh dined with us, who he said was the best, most ingenious Tradesman, that ever was in this Country. McKenzie and Welsh were very full of the Machinery, in Europe, the Fire Engines, the Water Works, the silk Machines, the Wind Mills, in Holland &c. McKenzie says there are 27, 000 Wheels, and 90, 000 Movements in the silk Machine. You may see 10,000 Wind Mills go­ing at once in Holland. Thus he tells Wondrous Things, like other Travellers.—I suspect he would be unable to describe the fire Engine or the Water Works. Had I been Master of my self I should have examined him, artfully, but I could not recollect any one Particular of the fire Engine, but the Receiver, and that he says is no Part of the Engine. But he talks about a Center Cylinder.

This conceited Scotchman has been a Rambler I believe. He set up Merchandize in New London. He married a Cunningham, sister to Otis’s Wife.—These restless Projectors, in Mechanicks, Husbandry, Merchandize, Manufactures, seldom succeed here. No Manufactury has succeeded here, as yet. And I believe Franklins Reasoning is good, and the Causes he mentions will hinder the growth of Manufactures here in America, for a great While yet to come.2

1Apparently a second entry for 19 Nov., but the preceding entry should perhaps have been dated a day earlier.

2The reference is to Franklin’s “Observations concerning the Increase of Mankind, Peopling of Countries, Etc.,” written in 1751 and first published four years later in Boston. Franklin reasoned that since land was so plentiful in America, labor would long be costly. “The Danger therefore of these Colonies interfering with their Mother Country in Trades that depend on Labour, Manufactures, &c., is too remote to require the attention of Great-Britain” (Writings, ed. Smyth description begins The Writings of Benjamin Franklin, ed. Albert Henry Smyth, New York and London, 1905–1907; 10 vols. description ends , 3:65–66.)

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