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on this point: it is this, that the bank of England, in its first erection, rested wholly on that foundation. The subscribers to a loan to government of one million two hundred thousand pounds sterling, were incorporated as a bank, of which the debt created by the loan and the interest upon it, were the sole fund. The subsequent augmentations of its capital, which now amounts to between eleven and twelve millions of pounds sterling, have been of the same nature.
The confining of the right of the bank to contract debts to the amount of its capital, is an important precaution, which is not to be found in the constitution of the bank of North America, and which, while the fund consists wholly of coin, would be a restriction attended with inconveniences; but would be free from any, if the composition of it should be such as is now proposed. The restriction exists in the establishment of the bank of England, and as a source of security is worthy of imitation. The consequence of exceeding the limit there is, that each stockholder is liable for the excess, in proportion to his interest in the bank. When it is considered that the directors owe their appointments to the choice of the stockholders, a responsibility of this kind on the part of the latter does not appear unreasonable; but, on the other hand, it may be deemed a hardship upon those who may have dissented from the choice. And there are many among us, whom it might perhaps discourage from becoming concerned in the institution. These reasons have induced the placing of the responsibility upon the directors, by whom the limit prescribed should be transgressed.
The interdiction of loans on account of the United States, or of any particular State, beyond the moderate sum specified, or of any foreign power, will serve as a barrier to executive encroachments, and to combinations inauspicious to the safety, or contrary to the policy of the Union.
The limitation of the rate of interest is dictated by the consideration, that different rates prevail in different parts of the Union; and as the operations of the bank may extend through the whole, some rule seems to be necessary. There is room for a question, whether the limitation ought not rather to be to five, than to six per cent. as proposed. It may with safety be taken for granted, that the former rate would yield an ample dividend, perhaps as much as the latter, by the extension which it would give to busiThe natural effect of low interest is to increase trade and industry; because undertakings of every kind can be prosecuted with greater advantage. This is a truth generally admitted; but it is requisite to have analyzed the subject in all its relations, to be able to form a just conception of the extent of that effect. Such an analysis cannot but satisfy an intelligent mind, that the difference of one per cent. in the rate at which money may be had, is often capable of making an essential change for the better in the situation of any country or place.
Every thing, therefore, which tends to lower the rate of interest, is peculiarly worthy of the cares of legislators. And though laws which violently sink the legal rate of interest greatly below the market level, are not to be commended, because they are not calculated to answer their aim; yet whatever has a tendency to effect a reduction, without violence to the natural course of things, ought to be attended to and pursued. Banks are among the means most proper to accomplish this end; and the moderation of the rate at which their discounts are made, is a material ingredient towards it; with which their own interest, viewed on an enlarged and permanent scale, does not appear to clash.
But, as the most obvious ideas are apt to have greater force than those which depend on complex and remote combinations, there would be danger, that the persons whose funds must constitute the stock of the bank, would be diffident of the sufficiency of the profits to be expected, if the rate of loans and discounts were to be placed below the point to which they have been accustomed; and might, on this account, be indisposed to embarking in the plan. There is, it is true, one reflection, which in regard to men actually engaged in trade, ought to be a security against this danger; it is thisThat the accommodations which they might derive in the way of their business, at a low rate, would more than indemnify them for any difference in the dividend; supposing even that some diminution of it were to be the consequence. But, upon the whole, the hazard of contrary reasoning among the mass of monied men, is a powerful argument against the experiment. The institutions of the kind already existing, add to the difficulty of making it. Mature reflection, and a large capital, may, of themselves, lead to the desired end.
The last thing which requires any explanatory remark, is, the authority proposed to be given to the President to subscribe to the amount of two millions of dollars on account of the public. The main design of this is to enlarge the specie fund of the bank, and to enable it to give a more early extension to its operations. Though it is proposed to borrow with one hand what is lent with the other, yet the disbursement of what is borrowed will be progressive, and bank notes may be thrown into circulation instead of the gold and silver. Besides, there is to be an annual reimbursement of a part of the sum borrowed, which will finally operate as an actual investment of so much specie. In addition to the inducements to this measure, which result from the general interest of the government to enlarge the sphere of the utility of the bank, there is this more particular consideration; to wit: that as far as the dividend on the stock shall exceed the interest paid on the loan, there is a positive profit.
The Secretary begs leave to conclude with this general observation: That if the bank of North America shall come forward with any propositions which have for their object the ingrafting upon that institution the characteristics which shall appear to the Legislature necessary to the due extent and safety of a national bank, there are, in his judgment, weighty inducements to giving every reasonable facility to the measure. Not only the pretensions of that institution, from its original relation to the government of the United States, and from the services it has rendered, are such as to claim a disposition favorable to it, if those who are interested in it are willing, on their part, to place it on a footing satisfactory to the government, and equal to the purposes of a bank of the United States, but its co-operation would materially accelerate the accomplishment of the great object; and the collision, which might otherwise arise, might, in a variety of ways, prove equally disagreeable and injurious. The incorporation or union here contemplated, may be effected in different modes, under the auspices of an act of the United States, if it shall be desired by the bank of North America, upon terms which shall appear expedient to the government.
All which is humbly submitted.
REPORT ON MANUFACTURES.
DECEMBER 5th, 1791.
The Secretary of the Treasury, in obedience to the order of the House of Representatives, of the 15th day of January, 1790, has applied his attention, at as early a period as his other duties would permit, to the subject of Manufactures; and particularly to the means of promoting such as will tend to render the United States independent on foreign nations, for military and other essential supplies:
And he thereupon respectfully submits the following
The expediency of encouraging manufactures in the United States, which was not long since deemed very questionable, appears at this time to be pretty generally admitted. The embarrassments which have obstructed the progress of our external trade, have led to serious reflections on the necessity of enlarging the sphere of our domestic commerce. The restrictive regulations, which, in foreign markets abridge the vent of the increasing surplus of our agricultural produce, serve to beget an earnest desire, that a more extensive demand for that surplus may be created at home; and the complete success which has rewarded manufacturing enterprise, in some valuable branches, conspiring with the promising symptoms which attend some less mature essays in others, justify a hope, that the obstacles to the growth of this species of industry, are less formidable than they were apprehended to be; and that it is not difficult to find, in its further extension, a full indemnification for any external disadvantages, which are or may be experienced, as well as an accession of resources, favorable to national independence and safety.
There still are, nevertheless, respectable patrons of opinions unfriendly to the encouragement of manufactures. The following are, substantially, the arguments by which these opinions are defended.
"In every country, (say those who entertain them,) agriculture is the most beneficial and productive object of human industry. This position, generally, if not universally true, applies with peculiar emphasis to the United States, on account of their immense tracts of fertile territory, uninhabited and unimproved. Nothing can afford so advantageous an employment for capital and labor, as the conversion of this extensive wilderness into cultivated farms. Nothing, equally with this, can contribute to the population, strength, and real riches of the country.
"To endeavor, by the extraordinary patronage of government, to accelerate the growth of manufactures, is, in fact, to endeavor by force and art, to transfer the natural current of industry, from a more to a less beneficial channel. Whatever has such a tendency, must necessarily be unwise; indeed, it can hardly ever be wise in a government to attempt to give a direction to the industry of its citizens. This, under the quicksighted guidance of private interest, will, if left to itself, infallibly find its own way to the most profitable employment; and it is by such employment that the public
prosperity will be most effectually promoted. To leave industry to itself, therefore, is, in almost every case, the soundest as well as the simplest policy.
"This policy is not only recommended to the United States, by considerations which affect all nations; it is, in a manner, dictated to them by the imperious force of a very peculiar situation. The smallness of their population compared with their territory, the constant allurements to emigration from the settled to the unsettled parts of the country; the facility with which the less independent condition of an artisan can be exchanged, for the more independent condition of a farmer; these, and similar causes, conspire to produce, and for a length of time must continue to occasion, a scarcity of hands for manufacturing occupation, and dearness of labor generally. To these disadvantages for the prosecution of manufactures, a deficiency of pecuniary capital being added, the prospect of a successful competition with the manufactures of Europe, must be regarded as little less than desperate. Extensive manufactures can only be the offspring of a redundant, at least of a full population. Till the latter shall characterize the situation of this country, it is vain to hope for the former.
"If, contrary to the natural course of things, an unseasonable and premature spring can be given to certain fabrics, by heavy duties, prohibitions, bounties, or by other forced expedients, this will only be to sacrifice the interests of the community to those of particular classes. Besides the misdirection of labor, a virtual monopoly will be given to the persons employed on such fabrics; and an enhancement of price, the inevitable consequence of every monopoly, must be defrayed at the expense of the other parts of the society. It is far preferable, that those persons should be engaged in the cultivation of the earth; and that we should procure, in exchange for its productions, the commodities, with which foreigners are able to supply us in greater perfection, and upon better terms."
This mode of reasoning is founded upon facts and principles, which have certainly respectable pretensions. If it had governed the conduct of nations more generally than it has done, there is room to suppose that it might have carried them faster to prosperity and greatness, than they have attained by the pursuit of maxims too widely opposite. Most general theories, however, admit of numerous exceptions, and there are few, if any, of the political kind, which do not blend a considerable portion of error with the truths they inculcate.
In order to an accurate judgment, how far that which has been just stated, ought to be deemed liable to a similar imputation, it is necessary to advert carefully to the considerations which plead in favor of manufactures, and which appear to recommend the special and positive encouragement of them in certain cases, and under certain reasonable limitations.
It ought readily to be conceded, that the cultivation of the earth, as the primary and most certain source of national supply; as the immediate and chief source of subsistence to man; as the principal source of those materials which constitute the nutriment of other kinds of labor; as including a state - most favorable to the freedom and independence of the human mind; one, perhaps, most conducive to the multiplication of the human species, has intrinsically a strong claim to pre-eminence over every other kind of industry.
But that it has a title to any thing like an exclusive predilection, in any country, ought to be admitted with great caution; that it is even more productive than every other branch of industry, requires more evidence than has yet been given in support of the position. That its real interests, pre
cious and important as, without the help of exaggeration, they truly are, will be advanced rather than injured, by the due encouragement of manufactures, may, it is believed, be satisfactorily demonstrated. And it is also believed, that the expediency of such encouragement, in a general view, may be shown to be recommended by the most cogent and persuasive motives of national policy.
It has been maintained, that agriculture, is not only the most productive, but the only productive species of industry. The reality of this suggestion, in either respect, has, however, not been verified by any accurate detail of facts and calculations, and the general arguments which are adduced to prove it, are rather subtile and paradoxical, than solid or convincing.
Those which maintain its exclusive productiveness, are to this effect:Labor bestowed upon the cultivation of land, produces enough not only to replace all the necessary expenses incurred in the business, and to maintain the persons who are employed in it, but to afford, together with the ordinary profit on the stock or capital of the farmer, a nett surplus or rent for the landlord or proprietor of the soil. But the labor of artificers does nothing more than replace the stock which employs them, (or which furnishes materials, tools, and wages,) and yield the ordinary profit upon that stock. It yields nothing equivalent to the rent of land; neither does it add any thing to the total value of the whole annual produce of the land and labor of the country. The additional value given to those parts of the produce of land, which are wrought into manufactures, is counterbalanced by the value of those other parts of that produce which are consumed by the manufacturers. It can, therefore, only be by saving or parsimony, not by the positive productiveness of their labor, that the classes of artificers can, in any degree, augment the revenue of the society.
To this it has been answered,
1. "That inasmuch as it is acknowledged, that manufacturing labor re-produces a value equal to that which is expended or consumed in carrying it on, and continues in existence the original stock or capital employed; it ought, on that account, alone, to escape being considered as wholly unproductive. That though it should be admitted, as alleged, that the consumption of the produce of the soil, by the classes of artificers or manufacturers, is exactly equal to the value added by their labor to the materials upon which it is exerted; yet, it would not thence follow, that it added nothing to the revenue of the society, or to the aggregate value of the annual produce of its land and labor. If the consumption for any given period amounted to a given sum, and the increased value of the produce manufactured, in the same period, to a like sum; the total amount of the consumption and production, during that period, would be equal to the two sums, and consequently double the value of the agricultural produce consumed: and though the increment of value produced by the classes of artificers should, at no time, exceed the value of the produce of the land consumed by them, yet there would be at every moment, in consequence of their labor, a greater value of goods in the market than would exist independent of it.
2. "That the position that artificers can augment the revenue of a society only by parsimony, is true in no other sense than in one which is equally applicable to husbandmen or cultivators. It may be alike affirmed of all these classes, that the fund acquired by their labor, and destined for their support, is not, in an ordinary way, more than equal to it. And hence