Industry Quotes

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paterson statue renovatedMany of Hamilton's economic programs during his time as Secretary of the Treasury had the goal of improving industry after the economic loss experienced during the Revolutionary War and during the confederation period.

In addition to stimulating agricultural industry, Alexander Hamilton understood the importance of developing a mixed-economy for the United States, rather than the agricultural raw-export model the country had when it was comprised of colonies. Two of the pillars of Hamilton's economic program was to establish credit and to build up manufacturing in the United States, both of which would help to grow industry. 

Below are some of his thoughts on industry and its relation to labor, debt and credit, banks, balance of trade, currency, national wealth, and more. These quotes are drawn from his reports to Congress and other important writings. 

Note: This page will continue to grow with new quotes from a variety of sources. Know of a quote? Send it to us!


Labor and Industry


"Were not the disadvantages of slavery too obvious to stand in need of it, I might enumerate and describe the tedious train of calamities, inseparable from it. I might shew that it is fatal to religion and morality; that it tends to debase the mind, and corrupt its noblest springs of action. I might shew, that it relaxes the sinews of industry, clips the wings of commerce, and introduces misery and indigence in every shape."

-Alexander Hamilton, "A Full Vindication of the Measures of the Congress," December 15, 1774. 


 When all the different kinds of industry obtain in a community, each individual can find his proper element, and can call into activity the whole vigour of his nature. And the community is benefitted by the services of its respective members, in the manner, in which each can serve it with most effect.

-Alexander Hamilton, Report on Manufactures, December 5, 1791


There is no purpose, to which public money can be more beneficially applied, than to the acquisition of a new and useful branch of industry; no Consideration more valuable than a permanent addition to the general stock of productive labour.

-Alexander Hamilton, Report on Manufactures, December 5, 1791


Lack of Industry


At present some of the states are little more than a society of husbandmen. Few of them have made much progress in those branches of industry, which give a variety and complexity to the affairs of a nation.

-Alexander Hamilton, "The Federalist, No. 56,"  February 16, 1788


Debt and Credit


"A national debt if it is not excessive will be to us a national blessing; it will be powerfull cement of our union. It will also create a necessity for keeping up taxation to a degree which without being oppressive, will be a spur to industry;"

-Alexander Hamilton, Letter to Robert Morris, April 30, 1781


Credit abroad was the trunk of our Mercantile credit, from which issued ramifications that nourished all the parts of Domestic Labour and industry.

- Alexander Hamilton, "Report on a Plan for the Further Support of Public Credit," January 16, 1795


The funding system (says a correspondent) as much abused, as if it were criminal in a Government to provide for the payment of the Debts of a Nation or as if it had created the debt for which it but provides, has not only produced all the advantageous effects which were promised from it (that is) contributed, by an increase of active or negotiable capital, to extend commerce and industry in every branch and to raise the value of lands, but it is at this moment promoting a very important advantage of another sort which was not predicted, namely the transfer to this Country of foreigners of property with their property.

- Alexander Hamilton, "Note on the Funding System," August, 1794


Banks and Industry


 Trade and industry, wherever they have been tried, have been indebted to them [public banks] for important aid.

-Alexander Hamilton, "Second Report on the Further Provision Necessary for Establishing Public Credit (Report on a National Bank)," December 13, 1790


The tendency of a national bank is to increase public and private credit. The former gives power to the state for the protection of its rights and interests, and the latter facilitates and extends the operations of commerce among individuals. Industry is increased, commodities are multiplied, agriculture and manufactures flourish, and herein consist the true wealth and prosperity of a state.

-Alexander Hamilton, Letter to Robert Morris, April 30, 1781


Balance of Trade


The support of industry is probably in every case, of more consequence towards correcting a wrong balance of trade, than any practicable retrenchments, in the expences of families, or individuals: And the stagnation of it would be likely to have more effect, in prolonging, than any such savings in shortening its continuance.

 -Alexander Hamilton, "Second Report on the Further Provision Necessary for Establishing Public Credit (Report on a National Bank)," December 13, 1790


 If the importing state takes more of the commodities of its neighbour, than it gives in exchange, that will be the loser by the reciprocal augmentation of prices—it will be the gainer, if it takes less—and neither will gain, or lose, if the barter is carried on upon equal terms. The ballance of trade, and consequently the gain, or loss, in this respect will be governed more by the relative industry and frugality of the parties, than by their relative advantages for foreign commerce.

 -Alexander Hamilton, "The Continentalist, No. V," April 18, 1782


Currency and Industry


The supposed tendency of bank paper to banish specie is from its capacity of serving as a substitute for it in circulation. But as the quantity circulated is proportioned to the demand for it, in circulation, the presumption is that a greater quantity of industry is put in motion by it, so as to call for a proportionably greater quantity of circulating medium and prevent the banishment of the specie.

- Alexander Hamilton, "Enclosure: [Objections and Answers Respecting the Administration]," August, 18, 1792


Objection: Paper Speculation nourishes in our Citizens &c.

Answer   This proposition within certain limits is true. Jobbing in the funds has some bad effects among those engaged in it. It fosters a spirit of gambling, and diverts a certain number of individuals from other pursuits. But if the proposition be true, that Stock operates as Capital, the effect upon the Citizens at large is different. It promotes among them industry by furnishing a larger field of employment. Though this effect of a funded debt has been called in question in England by some theorists yet most theorists & all practical men allow its existence. And there is no doubt, as already intimated, that if we look into those scenes among ourselves where the largest portions of the Debt are accumulated we shall perceive that a new spring has been given to Industry in various branches.

 - Alexander Hamilton, "Enclosure: [Objections and Answers Respecting the Administration]," August, 18, 1792


National Wealth and Stability


It is a truth as important as it is agreeable, and one to which it is not easy to imagine exceptions, that every thing tending to establish substantial and permanent order, in the affairs of a Country, to increase the total mass of industry and opulence, is ultimately beneficial to every part of it.

-Alexander Hamilton, Report on Manufactures, December 5, 1791


But there is no truth, which may be more firmly relied upon, than that the interests of the revennue are promoted, by whatever promotes an increase of National industry and wealth.

-Alexander Hamilton, Report on Manufactures, December 5, 1791


’Tis certain, that various objects in this country hold out advantages, which are with difficulty to be equalled elsewhere; and under the increasingly favorable impressions, which are entertained of our government, the attractions will become more and More strong. These impressions will prove a rich mine of prosperity to the Country, if they are confirmed and strengthened by the progress of our affairs. And to secure this advantage, little more is now necessary, than to foster industry, and cultivate order and tranquility, at home and abroad.

-Alexander Hamilton, Report on Manufactures, December 5, 1791


 It is certain, also, that a spirit of manufacturing prevails at this time, in a greater degree, than it has done at any antecedent period; and as far as an increase of duties shall tend to second and aid this spirit, they will serve to promote essentially the industry, the wealth, the strength, the independence and the substantial prosperity of the country.

 - Alexander Hamilton, "Report Relative to the Additional Supplies for the Ensuing Year," March 16, 1792


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