Front Page Titles (by Subject) TO MR. THOMAS DIGGES - The Works, vol. 5 (Correspondence 1786-1789)
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TO MR. THOMAS DIGGES - Thomas Jefferson, The Works, vol. 5 (Correspondence 1786-1789) 
The Works of Thomas Jefferson, Federal Edition (New York and London, G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1904-5). Vol. 5.
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TO MR. THOMAS DIGGES
Paris, June 19, 1788.
—I have duly received your favor of May 12, as well as that of the person who desires information on the state of cotton manufactures in America, and for his interest & safety I beg leave to address to you the answers to his queries without naming him.
In general it is impossible that manufactures should succeed in America from the high price of labour. This is occasioned by the great demand of labour for agriculture. A manufacturer going from Europe will turn to labour of other kind if he find more to be got by it, & he finds some emploiment so profitable that he can soon lay up money enough to buy fifty acres of land, to the culture of which he is irresistibly tempted by the independence in which that places him, & the desire of having a wife & family around him. If any manufactures can succeed there, it will be that of cotton. I must observe for his information that this plant grows nowhere in the United States Northward of the Potowmack, and not in quantity till you get Southward as far as York & James rivers. I know nothing of the manufacture which is said to be set up at Richmond. It must have taken place since 1783, when I left Virginia. In that state (for it is the only one I am enabled to speak of with certainty) there is no manufacture of wire or of cotton cards: or if any, it is not worth notice. No manufacture of stocking-weaving, consequently none for making the machine: none of cotton cloths of any kind whatever for sale; tho in almost every family some is manufactured for the use of the family, which is always good in quality, & often tolerably fine. In the same way they make excellent knit stockings of cotton, weaving it in like manner carried on principally in the family way: among the poor, the wife weaves generally, & the rich either have a weaver among their servants or employ their poor neighbors. Cotton cost in Virginia from 12d. to 18d. sterling the pound before the war, probably it is a little raised since. Richmond is as good a place for a manufactory as any in that State, & perhaps the best as to it’s resources for this business. Cotton clothing is very much the taste of the country. A manufacturer on his landing should apply to the well informed farmers and gentlemen of the country. Their information will be more disinterested than that of merchants, and they can better put him into the way of disposing of his workmen in the cheapest manner till he has time to look about him & decide how & where he will establish himself. Such is the hospitality in that country, & their disposition to assist strangers, that he may boldly go to any good house he sees, and make the inquiry he needs. He will be sure to be kindly received, honestly informed, and accommodated in a hospitable way, without any other introduction than an information who he is & what are his views. It is not the policy of the government in that country to give any aid to works of any kind. They let things take their natural course without help or impediment, which is generally the best policy. More particularly as to myself I must add that I have not the authority nor the means of assisting any persons in their passage to that country.