Item #366513 Report of the Secretary of State, on the Privileges and Restrictions of the Commerce of the United States in Foreign Countries. Thomas Jefferson.
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Jefferson's Commerce Report, His Last as Secretary of State

Report of the Secretary of State, on the Privileges and Restrictions of the Commerce of the United States in Foreign Countries.

Philadelphia: Printed for Childs and Swaine, 1793.

First edition. 20pp. 8vo. Jefferson's Commerce Report, His Last as Secretary of State. Disbound. Old ink staining on B1 with small burn hole Malone, Jefferson III, pp.154-60. Evans 26339. Item #366513

This important report on the commerce of the United States was the last report made by Thomas Jefferson as Secretary of State, transmitted to the House of Representatives on Dec. 16, 1793, just two weeks before his resignation from the Cabinet and retirement to Virginia. Jefferson had long delayed making the report as he gathered more information. With his resignation already announced, effective at the end of the year, he submitted the document at the end of the Congressional session.

According to Jefferson's biographer, Dumas Malone: "The paper embodied his thoughts over a long period about commerce and the economic development of the country ... this was not the work of a mere theorist or inexperienced provincial, for its author had more direct contact with the problems of international trade than any other American in public life ... Commerce loomed large in his mind ... he now recognized the need for manufacturing in the future economy of the country. His report is notably well balanced and distinctly national in spirit."

Jefferson had gathered statistics on trade since the beginning of his tenure as Secretary, at times with the aid of James Madison and Tench Coxe. He used these to describe in detail the imports and exports of the country, and its balance of trade with its major trading partners in Europe. "While considerably briefer than Hamilton's famous reports on banking and manufacturing, his paper can be properly compared to these as a source of factual information," Malone states. In the balance, Jefferson let the facts speak for themselves. The greatest enemies of American commerce were the interests of Great Britain and the restrictions Britain had placed on American trade to itself and its remaining colonies after the Revolution. Jefferson urged that the U.S. protect its own trade by placing restrictive tariffs on British products and negotiating trade treaties with other European powers, especially the French. He also suggested that American manufacturing would result in less dependence on foreign goods. Malone points out that in this regard, Jefferson and Hamilton were much closer in their beliefs than is usually thought.

The Jefferson commerce report was the last of only seven published reports he made as Secretary of State in the slightly over four years he held the post. The others are the Weights and Measures Report, the Cod and Whale Fisheries Report, the coinage reports of 1790 and 1793, the Indian lands report of 1792, and the message relative to France and Great Britain of 1793. The present document touched not only on the important areas of commerce, but also on Jefferson's vision of the United States. V.G. Setser called it "the farewell declaration of his policy," and Malone says, "...his report on commerce was abundantly justified on broad grounds of statesmanship"

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