The U.S. Economyin the 1790's

SOURCE: Tench Coxe, A View of the United States of America (Philadclphia, 1794), pp. 427-431, pp. 440-443).

The people of the United States have exploded those principles, by the operation of which religious oppressions and restrictions of wbatcN-cr description, have been imposed upon mankind, and, rejecting mere toleration, then, have placed upon one common and equal footing even, church, sect or society of religious men.

Thev have exploded in like manner, those principles, by the operation of which, civil oppressions have been inflicted upon mankind; and tbey have made an unexceeded progress in their practice upon the principles of free government.

The public debt is smaller in proportion to the present wealth and population of the United States than the public debt of any other civilized nation.

The United States (including the operations of the individual states) have sunk a much greater proportion of their public debt in the last ten years, than any other nation in the world.

The expences of the government are very much less, in proportion to wealth and numbers, than those of any nation in Europe.

There is no land tax among the national revenues, nor is there any interior tax, or excise upon food, drink, fuel, lights, or any native or foreign manufacture, or native or foreign production, except a duty of about four pence sterling upon domestic distilled spirits. The greatest part of the public burdens are paid by an import duty on foreign goods, which being drawn back on exportation , it remains only on what is actually consumed. It is in that view the lowest in the world, and operates greatly in favour of American manufactures.

Trade has been encouraged by a drawback of all the import duty on foreign goods, when they are exported, excepting only a very few commodities of a particular nature, which are not desired to be much imported into, or consumed in the United States.

A national mint is established under the direction of the ablest practical man in the arts and sciences which this country contains -David Rittenhouse.

It is provided by law that the purity and intrinsic value of the silver coin shall be equal to that of Spain, and of the gold coins to those of the strictest European nations. The government of the United States foregoes all profit from the coinage: a political and wholesome forbearance.

The banks established in the several cities of Philadelphia, NewYork, Boston, Baltimore, Charleston, Alexandria, &c. divide, a profit of seven and an half to eight and an half per cent per annum at present, which is paid half yearly.

The interest of the public debt of the United States is paid quarter yearly with a punctuality absolute and perfect. There is no tax on propertv in the funds and banks.

The shipbuilding of the United States was greater in the year 1792, than in any former year since the settlement of the country, and it is much greater in the current year, than it Nvas in the last. Generally speaking, the art of shipbuilding was never so well understood, never so well executed, nor was there ever a time when so many of the manufactures requisite for the furniture,, tackle, apparel and arming of vessels were made in the United States.

The value of the manufactures of the United States is certainly greater than double the value of their exports in native commodities.

The value of the manufactures of the United States, is much greater than the gross value of all their imports, including the value of goods exported again.

The manufactures of the United States consist generally of articles of comfort,, utility, and necessity. Articles of luxury, elegance, and shew are not manufactured in America, excepting a few kinds.

The manufactures of the United States have increased very rapidly since the commencement of the revolutionary war, and particularly in the last five years.

Household manufactures are carried on within the families of almost all the farmers and planters, and of a great proportion of the inhabitants of the villages and towns. This practice is increasing under the animating influences of private interest and public spirit.

The education of youth has engaged a great share of the attention of the legislatures of the states.

Night schools for young men and boys, who are employed at labour or business in the day time, have been long and beneficially supported, and the idea of Sunday school has been zealously adopted in some places. Free schools for both sexes have been increased. Greater attention, than heretofore, is paid to female education.

The people of the United States are ingenious in the invention, and prompt, and accurate in the execution of mecbanism and workmansbip for purposes in science, arts, inanufactures, navigation, and agriculture. Rittenhouse's planetarium, Franklin's electrical conductor, Godfrey's quadrant improved by Hadley, Rumsey's and Fitch's steam-engincs, Leslie's rod pendulum and other horological inventions, the construction of ships, the New-England whale-boat, the construction of flour- mills, the wire-cutter and bender for card makers, Folsom's and Brigg's macbinery for cutting nails out of rolled iron. the Philadelphia dray with an inclined plane, Mason's engine for extinguishing fire, the Connecticut steeple clock, which is wound up by the wind, the Franklin fire-place, the Rittenhouse stove, Anderson's threshing machine, Rittenhouse's instrument for taking levels, Donnaldson's hippopotamos and balance lock, and Wynkoop's underlators, are a few of the numerous examples.

A large proportion of the most successful manufacturers in the United States are persons, who are journeymen, and in a few instances were foremen in the work-sbops and manufactories of Europe, who having been skilfull, sober and frugal, and having thus saved a little money, have set up for themselves with great advantage in America. Few have failed to succeed. There appears to be least opening for those, who have been used to make very fine and costly articles of luxury and shew. There is not so much chance of success for those luxurious branches, unless they are capable of being carried on in a considerable degree by machinery or water works; in which case they also will thrive if the necessary capital be employed.- There is already some consumption of these fine goods in America, and as free an exportation of them (without duty, or excise) as from any country in the world.