Extract from Thomas Jefferson to John Melish

the book I have read with extreme satisfaction and information. as to the Western states particularly, it has greatly edified me; for of the actual condition of that interesting portion of our country I had not an adequate idea. I feel myself now as familiar with it as with the condition of the maritime states. I had no conception that manufactures had made such progress, there and particularly of the number of carding and spinning machines dispersed thro’ the whole country. we are but beginning here to have them in our private families. small spinning jennies of from half a dozen to 20. spindles will soon however make their way into the humblest cottages as well as the richest houses: and nothing is more certain than that the coarse & midling cloathing for our families will for ever hereafter continue to be made within ourselves. I have hitherto myself depended entirely on foreign manufactures: but I have now 35 spindles agoing, a hand carding machine, & looms with the flying shuttle for the supply of my own farms, which will never be relinquished in my time. the continuance of the war will fix the habit generally, and out of the evils of impressment and of the orders of council a great blessing for us will grow. I have not formerly been an advocate for great manufactories. I doubted whether our labor, employed in agriculture and aided by the spontaneous energies of the earth, would not procure us more, than we could make ourselves, of other necessaries. but other considerations entering into the question, have settled my doubts.

PoC (DLC). Published in PTRJS, 5:562–3.
Thomas Jefferson
John Melish
Date Range
January 13, 1813
Quotes by and about Thomas Jefferson
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