Pennsylvania Society for the Encouragement of Manufactures and the Useful Arts

Alternative names
Dates:
Active 1788
Active 1801

History notes:

The Pennsylvania Society for the Encouragement of Manufactures and the Useful Arts was founded in Philadelphia in August 1787 by Tench Coxe, John Nicholson, Thomas Mifflin, William Bingham, and other members of the city's political, mercantile and manufacturing elite. A separate "manufacturing fund" was established under the control of a twelve-man Manufacturing Committee for the purposes of building and operating experimental factories. Over 800 subscribers contributed a minimum of £10 each, and the state later subscribed an additional £1,000.

The committee began operations under Samuel Wetherill in the winter of 1787-88. The first phase was a putting-out system, under which between 200 and 300 needy women spun flax and wool in their homes. In March and April 1788 the committee built a cotton factory at 9th and Market Streets that included four jennies of from 40 to 80 spindles and 26 handlooms. The society failed in its attempts to smuggle the secrets of the Arkwright waterframe out of England, but they did achieve some economies by concentrating production in a single factory. However, flows of work, sales, and wage payments were erratic, and the factory was destroyed by a fire of suspicious origin on March 24, 1790.

The loss of most of its capital assets and inventory caused the Manufacturing Committee to suspend operations, and its accounts were settled in 1801. By then, the Napoleonic Wars had drawn most of Philadelphia's available capital into the lucrative neutral carrying trade. After the Peace of Amiens, Tench Coxe attempted to revive the society in 1804, but the resumption of war ended further activity.

From the description of Manufacturing fund ledger, 1788-1801. (Hagley Museum & Library). WorldCat record id: 122396782

The Pennsylvania Society for the Encouragement of Manufactures and the Useful Arts was founded in Philadelphia in August 1787 by Tench Coxe, John Nicholson, Thomas Mifflin, William Bingham and other members of the city's political, mercantile and manufacturing elite. The board of managers was charged with promoting the cause of domestic manufactures, particularly textiles, while a Manufacturing Committee was to establish and operate experimental factories using a separate "manufacturing fund." Over 800 subscribers contributed a minimum of £10 each, and the state subscribed an additional £1,000.

The committee began operations under Samuel Wetherill in the winter of 1787-88. The first phase was a putting-out system, under which between 200 and 300 needy women spun flax and wool in their homes. In March and April 1788 the committee built a cotton factory at 9th and Market Streets that included four jennies of from 40 to 80 spindles and 26 handlooms. The society failed in its attempts to smuggle the secrets of the Arkwright waterframe out of England, but they did achieve some economies by concentrating production in a single factory. However, flows of work, sales and wage payments were erratic, and the jennies threatened to undermine the traditional home spinners. The Society's factory was destroyed by a fire of suspicious origin on March 24, 1790.

The loss of most of its capital assets and inventory caused the Manufacturing Committee to suspend operations, and its accounts were settled in 1801. By then, the Napoleonic Wars had drawn most of Philadelphia's available capital into the lucrative neutral carrying trade. After the Peace of Amiens, Tench Coxe attempted to revive the society in 1804, but the resumptiom of war ended futher activity.

From the description of Weavers' ledger, 1788-1790. (Hagley Museum & Library). WorldCat record id: 122457599

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Permalink:
http://n2t.net/ark:/99166/w6xw9kk7
Ark ID:
w6xw9kk7
SNAC ID:
6327507

Subjects:

  • Textile industry
  • Male weavers
  • Handloom industry
  • Textile factories
  • Women textile workers
  • Weavers
  • Putting-out system
  • Industrial arts--Societies, etc
  • Cotton manufacture
  • Cotton textile industry

Occupations:

not available for this record

Functions:

not available for this record

Places:

  • Philadelphia (Pa.) (as recorded)
  • Pennsylvania (as recorded)
  • Pennsylvania (as recorded)
  • Philadelphia (Pa.) (as recorded)