To the Directors of the Society for
Establishing Useful Manufactures1
Philadelphia Decbr. 7. 1791.
In consequence of powers vested in me by the Agents named in the instrument of Subscription towards the Society for establishing useful Manufactures,2 I have made Contracts on behalf of the Society with
William Hall, as Superintendent of the printing Business;3 with Joseph Mort, as an Assistant in the Manufactory,4 in such way as his Services may be thought most useful. This Gentleman I understand has had opportunities of being acquainted both with the making and printing of Cotton Goods; with Thomas Marshal to superintend the Cotton Mill.5
The Contracts with these different Persons are transmitted herewith.
There is a William Pearce who has been employed by me in preparing Machines for the use of the Society; and with whom I have advanced pretty far in an Agreement, but without having reduced it to a definitive form.6 He pretends to a knowlege of the fabrication of most of the most valuable Machines now in use in the Cotton Manufactory; and his Execution hitherto, as far as he has gone, confirms his pretentions. Among other Machines he has prepared a double Loom, to be worked by one person. Of this he gives himself as the Inventor, and has applyed for a Patent, which he will probably obtain. It is certain that the Machine, if in use at all in Europe is quite new; and as far as without seeing it worked, it can be judged of, promisses to answer the Expectations it gives—with (Geoe) Perkinson, as Foreman or Master of a room in the Cotton-Mill. This appears to be an ingenious Mechanic, who has obtained a Patent for a Flax-Mill, which he alleges his having improved.7 How far these improvements may be of real Utility, or the Mill itself capable of answering it’s End, ought to be considered as uncertain: since it is a question whether the spinning of Flax by Mills, which has been for sometime a desideratum in Great Britain, is practicable. The object of engaging this Man was to secure to the Society an ingenious Mechanic, and securing to them whatever advantage there may be in the Patent.
All the Contracts leave to the Society the power of dismissing at pleasure, if on experiment, they find it their interest.
I thought it adviseable in the first instance, to secure Persons of whose Usefulness there was reason to entertain a favorable Opinion, tho’ upon terms which may appear high, that the Business might be early put in Motion.
It is a point understood between Mr. Mort and myself, that if desired by the Society, he is to go to Europe, to bring over Workmen, at his own Expence in the first instance; but with the assurance of reimbursement and indemnification. To engage such a Person as Mr. Mort for this purpose appeared to me a Point of some consequence.8
I have the honor to be with great consideration Gentlemen Your Obedient servt
The Directors of the Society for
establishg. useful Manufactures.
“Minutes of the S.U.M.,” description begins MS Minutes of the Society for Establishing Useful Manufactures, City of Paterson, New Jersey, Plant Management Commission, Successors to the Society for Establishing Useful Manufactures. description ends 3–5.
1. This letter was read and approved at the first meeting of the directors of the Society for Establishing Useful Manufactures at New Brunswick, New Jersey, on December 9, 1791.
4. Contract not found. According to the “Minutes of the S.U.M.,” description begins MS Minutes of the Society for Establishing Useful Manufactures, City of Paterson, New Jersey, Plant Management Commission, Successors to the Society for Establishing Useful Manufactures. description ends this contract was dated August 22, 1791.
5. Contract not found. According to the “Minutes of the S.U.M.,” description begins MS Minutes of the Society for Establishing Useful Manufactures, City of Paterson, New Jersey, Plant Management Commission, Successors to the Society for Establishing Useful Manufactures. description ends this contract was dated August 17, 1791.
7. George Parkinson had come to the United States from Great Britain as early as August, 1790. He secured a patent on his machine, and from March 19 to April 16, 1791, advertised his services in the [Philadelphia] Gazette of the United States. A manuscript copy of this advertisement in the Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress, reads as follows:
“Machinery for spinning Flax, hemp & combed wool.
“The subscriber hereby gives public Notice that he has obtained a Patent for a slivering wheel and table, a movement for wetting the thread by conical, clothcoated thrumblers and another for the same purpose by a cloth coated roller, a leathern belt moved by rollers for the purpose of the preparatory drawing of the slivers and another leathern belt moved in like manner by rollers for the purpose of drawing the roved flax, hemp and wool being improvements upon the mill or machinery of Kindrew Porthouse of the Town of Darlington in Great Britain.
“This machinery, with the original mechanism on which it is grafted, being of the utmost value to the United States the subscriber hereby offers to make and erect a complete mill or mills, including both the original works and his above improvements thereon for any individual or company on terms to be by them agreed on; and to conduct the manufactory either for a share of the profits or stipulated wages.
There is also in the Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress, an undated, unsigned document entitled “A flax and hemp spinning mill is applicable to manufacturing.” This document consists of a list of goods that Parkinson’s flax mill could manufacture.
8. Following the reading of this letter at the meeting of the directors of the society on December 9, 1791, “The several Agreements were also read and considered, upon which it was Unanimously Resolved that the said Agreements be adopted on behalf of this Society; and that this Board will carry the same into Effect on their part: and Ordered that the said several Agreements be filed” (“Minutes of the S.U.M.,” description begins MS Minutes of the Society for Establishing Useful Manufactures, City of Paterson, New Jersey, Plant Management Commission, Successors to the Society for Establishing Useful Manufactures. description ends 5).