Report on Manufactures

The Report on Manufactures was one of the most penetrating statements of the protectionist philosophy ever made. Hamilton urged the expanded use of protective tariffs as a means to protect the nation's infant industries. It did not seem plausible to him that a nation of farmers could compete against the industrial might of Europe. He argued that the United States could only assure its political independence by maintaining economic independence.

Hamilton, the prime spokesperson for Northern commercial interests, was actually pushing to include the South in his plan for industrial expansion. Southerners were wary of his intentions and it was virtually at this time that Eli Whitney developed the cotton gin, spurring a rebirth of the cotton economy and neutralizing any thoughts they may have had about industrialization.

Hamilton’s elaborate plan for tariffs and support of budding industries was the only part of his program that did not gain enthusiastic support from Congress.