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Report on Manufactures

Last Updated: 2006

On January 15, 1791, the House of Representatives asked Alexander Hamilton, the nation’s first secretary of the Treasury, to prepare a plan that would promote manufacturing in the United States. The report is considered to be one of Hamilton’s most important because it provides the clearest summary of his entire economic philosophy. Within this report, Hamilton compiled much information and opinions regarding the state of manufacturing in the United States.

In the Report on Manufactures, Hamilton asked Congress to promote manufacturing so that the United States could have economic independence and equality in the global market. Hamilton’s political opponents claimed that this report clearly illustrated that he was antiagriculture and probusiness. Hamilton did not desire to abolish agriculture and thought that the greater benefits to the United States would come from having an economic system based on both agriculture and manufacturing.

Hamilton argued that in order for the United States to earn respect from European countries, it needed a balanced economy and to be self-sufficient. The Report on Manufactures pointed out that these goals could be accomplished through manufacturing, which would give the United States the economic strength to be respected by European nations. In order for the United States to become a strong manufacturing nation, the report recommended protective tariffs, prohibitions on imports that competed with American-made products, an exemption of American-made products from duties, and the encouragement of new inventions. Hamilton submitted this report to Congress on December 5, 1791. Because of the opposition of Hamilton’s political opponents in Congress, the report was never voted on. However, Hamilton’s vision for a strong industrialized nation that was respected abroad became a reality in the future development of the United States.

SEE ALSO: Hamilton, Alexander


Jacob E. Cooke, ed., Alexander Hamilton: A Profile (New York: Hill and Wang, 1967); and Lisa Marie DeCarolis, “A Biography of Alexander Hamilton (1755–1804),”