Original Document
Original Document
Tench Coxe, On the manufactures and commerce of Pennsylvania, 1794.

"The produce, manufactures, and exports of Pennsylvania, are very many and various, viz. wheat, flour, midlings, ship-stuff, bran, shorts, ship-bread, white water biscuit, rye, rye flour, Indian corn or maize, indian meal, buckwheat, buckwheat meal, bar and pig iron, steel, nail rods, nails, iron hoops, rolled iron tire, gun-powder, cannon ball, iron cannon, musquets, ships, boats, oars, hand-spikes, masts, spars, ship-timber, ship-blocks, cordage, square timber, scantling, plank, boards, staves, heading, shingles, wooden hoops, tanners bark, corn fans, coopers ware, bricks, coarse earthern or potters ware, a very little stone-ware, glue, parchment, shoes, boots, soal leather, upper leather, dressed deer and sheep skins, and gloves and garments thereof, fine hats, many common, and a few coarse; thread, cotton, worsted, and yarn hosiery; writing, wrapping, blotting, sheathing, and hanging paper; stationary, playing cards, pasteboards, books; wares of brass, pewter, lead, tinplate, copper, silver and gold; clocks and watches, musical instruments, snuff, manufactured tobacco, chocolate, mustardseed, flax seed, flax seed oil, flax, hemp, wool and cotton cards, pickled beef, pork, shad, herring, tongues and sturgeons, hams and other bacon, tallow, hog's lard, butter, cheese, candles, soap, beeswax, loaf-sugar, pot and pearl ashes, rum and other spirits, beer, porter, hops, winter and summer barley, oats, spelts, onions, potatoes, turnips, cabbages; carrots, parsnips, red and white clover, timothy, and most european vegetables and grasses, apples, peaches, plums, pears, apricots, grapes, both native and imported, and other european fruits, working and pleasurable carriages, horses, horned cattle, sheep, hogs, wood for cabinet makers, limestone, coal, free-stone, and marble.

"Some of these productions are fine, some indifferent. Some of the manufactures are considerable, for a young country, circumstanced as this has been; some inconsiderable: but they are enumerated, to shew the general nature of the state, and the various pursuits of the inhabitants. In addition to them we may mention, that a lead-mine and two or three salt-springs have been discovered in our new country; which, no doubt, will be worked, as soon 4he demand for lead and salt to the westward increases. We ought also notice our great forest for making pot ashes and glass. "The manufactures of Pennsylvania have increased exceedingly within a few years, as well by master-workmen and journeymen from abroad, as by the increased skill and industry of our own citizens. Household or family manufactures have greatly advanced and valuable acquisitions have been made of implements and machinery to save labour, either imported or invented in the United States. The hand-machines for carding and spinning cotton have been introduced by foreigners, and improved; but we have obtained the water mill for spinning cotton, and a water mill for flax, which is applicable also to spinning hemp and wool. These machines promise us an early increase of the cotton, linen, and hempen branches, and must be of very great service in the woollen branch. Additional employment for weavers, dyers, bleachers, and other manufacturers must be the consequence. Paper-mills, gulf powder-mills, steel works, rolling and slitting mills, printing figured goods of paper, linen, and even of cotton, coach making, book printing, and several other branches, are wonderfully advanced: and every month seems to extend our old manufactures or to introduce new ones.

"The advancement of the agriculture of Pennsylvania is the best proof that can be given of the comfort and happiness it affords to its farming, manufacturing, and trading citizens. In the year 1786, our exports of flour were one hundred and fifty thousand barrels: in 1787, they were two hundred and two thousand barrels; in 1788, they were two hundred and twenty thousand barrels; but in 1789 they were three hundred and sixty-nine thousand barrels which exceeds any export ever made in the times of the province or in the times of the commonwealth. The produce of flax is increased in a much greater degree: and that of wool is considerably more than it was before the revolution. A new article is added to the list of our productions, which is a well tasted and wholesome sugar, made of the maple tree. It has been proved by many fair and careful experiments, that it is in the power of a substantial farmer, who has a family about him, easily to make twelve hundred weight of this sugar every season, without hiring any additional hands, or utensils, but those that are necessary for his family, and farm use. The time, in which it can be made, is from the middle of February to the end of March, when farmers in this country have very little to do, as it is too early to plough or dig. The price of sugar being lower here than in Europe, this article may be reckoned at one hundred and fifty dollars per annum, to every careful and skillful farmer, who owns land bearing sugar maple. Of these there are some millions of acres in Pennsylvania and the adjacent states. . . .

"Ship-building is a business, in which the port of Philadelphia exceeds most parts of the world. Not only are masts, spars, timber, and plank, from our own state and the other states on the Delaware, constantly for sale in our market: but the mulberry of the Chespeak, and the evergreen or the live oak, and red cedar of the Carolinas and Georgia, are so abundantly imported, that nine-tenths of our vessels are built of them. No vessels are better than these: and in proof of it, english writers of rank might be quoted, who have published for and against us. A live oak and cedar ship of two hundred tons, carpenter's measurement, can be fitted to take in a cargo for fourteen pounds currency per ton: and there is not a port in Europe, in which an oak ship can he equally well-built and fitted for twenty pounds per ton in our money, or twelve pounds sterling. . . .

"It has been already affirmed that the business of ship-building is in a course of extraordinary prosperity in the United States. From the books of the inspector general of American commerce, under the British government, it appears, that there were built in Pennsylvania, in the year 1769, no more than 1649 tons of new vessels; in the year 1770, 2354 tons; and in the year 1771, only 1307 tons. The return of new vessels, built in the state of Pennsylvania, during the year 1793, though a grievous epidemic malady was introduced, in that term, into its" only sea-port, exhibits the number of 8145 tons. These vessels were generally built of the southern live oak and cedar, and were consequently of the first class in value and excellency. This great increase of so capital a vehicle of commerce is an evidence as well of the growth of trade, as of ship-building. It is, however, proper to observe, that, the measurement of 1771 was much less accurate, than that of 1793. The medium of the actual tonnage of the three former years, mentioned above, was perhaps 2300 tons.

"But there is a stronger proof of the growth of trade in the port of Philadelphia, and in the state of Pennsylvania. This results from the astonishing increase of exports. The aggregate value of all the commodities shipped from Philadelphia to foreign countries, during one year, ending on the 30th of September 1792, was 3,820,646 Dols.

"The aggregate value of the like exports from Philadelphia, during one year, ending the 30th of September, 1793, was 6,958,736 Dols. . . . .

"The exports of the state of Pennsylvania, during the year ending on the 30th of september 1793, were more than one-fourth of the exports of the whole of the United States. The transportation of merchantize and domestic manufactures, coast-wise, and by land, was also very great. . . . .

"There are established in the city of Philadelphia, three incorporated banks, which may be safely affirmed to be in full and perfect credit, and to yield a better dividend, or half-yearly profit, to their stockholders, than any similar institution in Europe: they are,
"1. The Bank of North-America, established in the year 1781.
"2. The Bank of the United States, established in 1791.
"3. The Bank of Pennsylvania, established in 1792.

"The United States of America are interested to an amount much less than a major part of the stock in the second; and the state of Pennsylvania in a similar degree in the third. They are all banks of discount and deposit, and issue notes payable in species, on demand, to the bearer. Their organization is upon a plan and on principles nearly uniform, and very much like to those of the bank of England. Foreigners are considerably interested in all of them. The bank of the United States has many proprietors in other parts of this country. It has branches, or sub-ordinate offices, in Boston, New-York, Baltimore, Charleston. . . . . .

"The writer of the observations remarks, that the high pries wool and labour must induce the Americans to import the felt and common hats. The increase of our population, as in other new countries, has been accompanied by an increase of the quantity of wool. Sheep have been found, on frequent and fair experiments, to be very profitable to the farmer. Importation, though hitherto casual, has supplied us with some wool. Hatters are found in every part of the United States. The following table, which was contained in a report made by a committee to the manufacturing society of Philadelphia, will show the state of the batting business in Pennsylvania, and discovers a fact little known even to her own citizens, that 12,340 hats are annually made in the four counties beyond the Allegany mountains.
In the city and county of

Hatters Fur Hats Wool Hats
Philadelphia 68 31,637 7,600
Montgomery 10 800 1,000
Delaware 14 1,500 4,000
West Chester 14 1,300 4,000
Lancaster 16 3,000 15,000
Dauphin 10 1,200 4,000
Bucks 12 1,000 1,000
Berks 38 2,200 54,000
York 26 2,600 30,000
Cumberland 16 1,300 9,000
Northumberland 10 700 5,000
Northampton 12 1,000 1,000
Bedford 8 800 2,000
Franklin 10 800 2,000
Luzerne 6 400 1,400
Huntington 6 1,400 2,000
Mifflin 6 400 2,000
Westmoreland 10 600 3,000
Fayette 7 400 1,540
Allegany 6 400 1,600
Washington 10 800 4,000

315 54,237 161,140

"From this return it appears, that every county in the state participates in the hatting business, there being none but what are in the above list.
". . . The towns of Washington, Pittsburgh, Bedford, and Huntingdon, in Pennsylvania, the nearest of which is 150 miles from a sea-port, exhibit the strongest proofs, that manufactures are the natural and best support of the interiour landed interest, and are necessary at once to the accommodation, the comfort, and the prosperity of the cultivators of the middle and western country. The following table contains an account of the population of those villages, which is not exaggerated.

Clock and watchmakers 1 1 0 0
Silversmiths.................... 1 0 0 1
Coopers....................... 1 2 1 0
Skin-dressers and breeches makers..... 1 1 0 0
Tanners and curriers ........... 1 2 1 0
Tailors........................ 2 0 2 3
Cabinet makers................ 2 4 0 2
Blacksmiths............. 2 5 3 4
Shoemakers................... 2 5 2 4
Hatters....................... 2 2 1 2
Dyers........................ 1 0 0 0
Weavers...................... 2 2 0 2
Reedmakers ................... 1 0 0 0
Saddlers...................... 1 3 2 2
Saddletree-makers.............. 1 0 0 0
Spinningwheel-makers........... 1 0 0 0
Nailors........................ 1 0 1 0
Malsters and Brewer........... 1 1 0 0
Potters....................... 1 0 0 0.
Tinners....................... 1 2 0 0
Distillers...................... 3 0 1 0
Wheelwrights.................. 0 3 1 2
Stocking-weavers .............. 0 1 0 1.
Gunsmiths.................... 3 0 0 0
Ropemakers.................... 0 1 0 0
Whitesmiths.................... 0 2 0 0
Total of Manufacturers........ 32 37 15 23
Total families................ 130 40 85

"It appears from this table, that in those countytowns, or seats of justice, in the interiour and western parts of Pennsylvania, the necessity for manufactures has occasioned a little congregation of artizans, in the proportion of twenty-seven parts in one hundred of the whole village, in the smallest instance, and in the proportion of thirty-seven parts in one hundred, in the largest. The town of Washington, which is the most remote, and is near to the Ohio, has been created since the late war. Its distance is about 300 miles west of Philadelphia. The variety of its manufactures is striking; and it may be safely affirmed, that at the seats of justice, in the counties of Delaware, Bucks, Chester, and Montgomery, which are nearest to Philadelphia, as great a number of manufactures, in proportion to their respective population, does not exist; though the family manufactures are much more considerable in these counties, and though they have very numerous tanneries, iron works, powder-mills, papermills, blacksmiths, hatters, shoemakers, weavers, and other valuable workmen, in their villages, and scattered throughout their populous townships. This however, is the case, in some degree, likewise in the townships of the western scene above described....

"In the midland counties of Pennsylvania, many precious manufactures have resulted from a flourishing agriculture, and, immediately on their birth, have contributed to the prosperity of the cultivators. The borough of Lancaster, which is the largest inland town in the United States, is sixty-six miles from a seaport, and ten from any practised boat navigation. The number of families was in 1786 about 700, of whom 234 were manufacturers. The following is the list of them. Fourteen hatters, thirty-six shoemakers, four tanners, seventeen saddlers, twenty-five tailors, twenty-five weavers of woollen, linen, and cotton cloth, three stocking weavers, twenty-five white and black smiths, six wheelwrights, eleven coopers, six clock and watchmakers, six tobacco and snuff manufacturers, four dyers, seven gun smiths, five rope makers, four tinners, two brass founders, three skin dressers, one brush maker, seven turners, seven nail makers, five silver snubs, three potters, three brewers, three copper smiths, and two printers in English and German. There were in 1786 also, within thirty-nine miles of the town, seventeen furnaces, forges, rolling mills and slitting mills; and within ten miles of it, eighteen grain mills, sixteen saw mills, one fulling mill, four oil mills, five hemp mills, two boring and grinding mills for gun barrels, and eight tanneries. The increase since 1786 must have been very considerable; for the attention of the United States has been very much turned to manufactures since the year 1787. It may be safely affirmed, that the county of Lancaster, in which the abovementioned borough is, and those of York and Berks, are among the most vigorous in Pennsylvania, perhaps in the union; and that there are none in the state in which there are more manufactures, is beyond all question. They are all fifty miles, or more, from the nearest sea port."

Credit: Tench Coxe, A View of the United States of America. . . . (Philadelphia, 1794): 61-68, 477-480, 157-158, 310-313.
Back to Top