University of Virginia Library


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Printers' Lobby: Model 1802

BY 1800 BINNY AND RONALDSON WERE DOING rather well for themselves financially. It was only four years before that James Ronaldson, deciding not to rebuild his fire-gutted bakery, had become the partner of Archibald Binny, just arrived from Edinburgh equipped with the skill and tools of type founding. The two men formed an excellent combination: one the business man, the other the craftsman, and both were canny Scots. After a short period of partnership they absorbed the New York foundry of Adam Mappa and later expanded their own shop in Philadelphia. At the turn of the nineteenth century they owned the only foundry in the United States casting English letters.

But like most of the other manufacturers of this period, they constantly faced the problem of maintaining an adequate supply of raw materials. Although some of these could be procured in America, many others had to be imported, so Congress, attempting to encourage native manufacturing, admitted a number of items duty free. Importation, however, was a time-consuming process and an expensive one; if, like antimony, the material did not appear on the free list, the duty to be paid was large. When Binny and Ronaldson received approximately three tons in 1800, they were charged the sum of $161.54 as duty. The partners paid the bill, but not without protest. On January 8, 1802, this petition[1] was read in the House of Representatives:


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To the Honourable the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States

The Petition of Binny & Ronaldson Letter Founders in Philadelphia

Respectfully Sheweth

That your Petitioners have established the Manufacture of Printing Types in Philadelphia, in the prosecution of which they have had many obstacles to encounter, which by industry, attention, and œconomy, they have hitherto surmounted—That the high price of the Metals of which their Types are composed, together with the difficulty of procuring some of them, particularly Regulus of Antimony, is a considerable bar to the success of their establishment —That after many unsuccessful endeavours to procure Regulus, or Antimony from which it might be extracted, in this Country, they have been obliged to send to Europe for it, and with much difficulty and after long delay they succeeded in procuring a quantity of it in London at a very high price, which for the sake of greater security they directed to be shipped in two different vessels, and it was accordingly sent out on board the Susanna and the Pennsylvania, who both arrived in the Delaware in October 1800—That Regulus of Antimony being a new material, not to be procured in this Country and imported for the express purpose of being Manufactured here, they did not expect any duty would have been charged upon its importation, and therefore applied to the Collector of this Port who informed them that he had no power to remit the Duties—That they then applied to Oliver Wolcott Esqr. Secretary of the Treasury who answered them as follows

Treasury Department Novr. 13. 1800

I have received yours of the October 1800, and feel every disposition to oblige you and to encourage the business which you have undertaken as far as I am authorized by Law, and am sorry that in the present instance it will not permit a compliance with your request, it not being in my power to remit Duties expressly imposed by Act of Congress.

I am
with consideration
Messrs. Binny &Ronaldson Philadelphia}
Your obt. Sert.
Oliver Wolcott

That your Petitioner feel themselves constrained to apply to Congress for relief in the present instance, which from your Justice and laudable inclination to encourage the rising Manufactures of the United States, they have the fullest confidence of obtaining, when it is recollected that all other articles of a similar nature, as far as they were understood at the time of enumerating the Duties, have been expressly exempted, such as Tin, Pewter, Copper, Brass-wire


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&c.—and Regulus of Antimony would doubtless have also been exempted had it been adverted to, or its uses been known in the Country at that time—That as Regulus of Antimony may be advantageously used in several other branches of Manufacture, and is applicable to no other purpose, your Petitioners submit to this Honourable Body the propriety of remitting the Duties in the present instance and exempting the articles in future, in which case the loss to the Revenue would be trifling indeed and the encouragement to several useful branches of Manufacture very considerable.

The amount of the Duties prayed to be remitted are as follows

Cwt. qrs. lb. 
36 . . 0 . . 0.  Imported in the Susanna-----------------  $102.48 
20 . . 1 . .22.  D°. in the Pennsylvania----------------  59.06 

May it therefore please your Honours to remit the Duties in the above instance, and to exempt Regulus of Antimony from Duty in future, or to grant such other relief in the premises as to your wisdom may seem proper

Archd. Binny
James Ronaldson.

Such a petition was not unusual and the House referred it, along with others, to the Committee of Commerce and Manufactures. The Committee must have studied these petitions very carefully for on February 10, 1802, it submitted a detailed report recommending various changes in the tariff. The Committee stated that

such manufactures as are obviously capable of affording to the United States an adequate supply of their several and respective objects, ought to be promoted by the aid of Government. Two modes of administering this aid have presented themselves to your committee: The one, to permit, free of duty, the importation of such gross articles as are essential to those manufactures. The other, to impose higher duties on such articles (on importation) as can be supplied by our own citizens to advantage.[2]
And in this vein it recommended that the duty on regulus of antimony be lifted and that the duty on imported printing types be twenty per cent ad valorem—an increase of seven and a half per cent.


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The news might well have remained buried in the list of proposed duties on such items as fur hats, glue, tarred cordage, pickled fish, and dried fish. But to one journalist, William Duane, publisher of the Philadelphia Aurora, who was in Washington hoping to get the government contract for printing and stationery, this was exciting information. In fact, it is probably true that the duty on type was increased at his suggestion. In 1800 he had married Margaret Bache, widow of Benjamin Franklin Bache, the owner of the Aurora as well as of the type founding materials which Benjamin Franklin had brought from France in 1786. Thus Duane could appreciate the possibilities of establishing a lucrative type foundry once imported types were priced prohibitively high. He proceeded immediately to notify the Aurora. Five days later, it printed the following:

From the Editor.
Washington, February 10, 1802.
The duty on Antimony is taken off.
A duty on foreign types of 20 per cent. laid on.[3]

This laconic communication set off a chain reaction which was felt in six cities. A narrative of the effects in chronological order would be confusing even if more scientific. Instead, they will be described city by city.


On the day following the appearance of Duane's dispatch, Zachariah Poulson Jr.'s American Daily Advertiser reprinted the second sentence and added a paragraph of editorial comment. It pointed to the fact that there was but one type foundry in the United States and that there were "perhaps not more than twelve persons employed."[4] The Advertiser found it hard to understand why, since there were about three thousand persons who derived their support from the printing business, so "many Peters must be robbed to compensate Paul."[5] On the evening of the same day, Samuel Relf's Philadelphia Gazette called attention to this editorial


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and noted that the increased duty "must materially retard the progress and perfection of the printing business."[6]

The next day the Philadelphia Gazette announced that it would publish a detailed consideration of the duty in the following issue.[7] Then, launching the campaign, it devoted almost two columns to the attack. The editor stressed the fact that while Fry and Steele, of London, could furnish more than one hundred different sizes of English letters in addition to characters in many foreign languages, Binny and Ronaldson could not supply more than one twentieth of this amount. While he did not deny that the firm possessed the skill required to make the additional type, he noted that the cost of the matrices would have to be borne by the printer who ordered the type. Nevertheless, even

on the limitted (sic) scale on which it is conducted, (the english, pica, long-primer and brevier forming at least nine tenths of the demand from them) these gentlemen, possessing a monopoly of the business in America, have, in a few years realised an handsome property.[8]
At this point, the editor made a rather unfortunate error. He interpreted the duty to be an additional twenty per cent, not an increase to twenty per cent. After elaborating on the injustice of such an excessive amount, he accused Duane, a British subject, of instigating this increase and concluded with the lament that
our public councils should be disgraced by an adherence to the opinions or suggestions of an individual blinded by an inveterate hatred to the country to which he owes his birth and allegiance.[9]

Meanwhile, the members of the book trade had been discussing the new tariff among themselves. Finding themselves in general agreement on the steps to be taken, they called for a meeting at Mr. Cameron's, on North Third St., at seven o'clock on Saturday, February twentieth.[10] When they assembled, Mathew Carey was chosen chairman and John H. Oswald secretary. A committee was directed to draft a memorial to Congress, the chairman was requested to ask the representative in Congress to postpone action,


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and the chairman was also requested to communicate the measures adopted to the printers and booksellers of Boston, New York, and Baltimore. After a resolution to publish the proceedings of the meeting,[11] the members adjourned to meet and receive the memorial on Monday, February twenty-second.

Duane, of course, did not neglect to answer the Gazette. His two-column reply included a brief resumé of English type founding, praise for the beautiful type of Binny and Ronaldson, as well as the statement that they employed more than twenty people.[12] Some of his remarks emphasized his personal interest in the increased duty. He declared that there were three different foundries in America which were idle through want of protection; he referred to a foundry in Philadelphia which possessed matrices for every type from non-pareil to five-line Pica, with Greek, Hebrew, and other oriental characters and three hundred different species of typographical ornaments. And, in conclusion, he repeated that several founders would resume if provided with protection. The Gazette printed its reply two days later. Its major point was that the Philadelphia foundry was in Duane's possession, having been acquired from Bache: "This is the clue, which at once unravels the mystery of his pretended attachment to the encouragement of American manufactures!"[13]

The Philadelphia book trade continued its campaign, and two papers carried notices of book trade meetings in New York and Baltimore.[14] On March 8, 1802, the following petition was read in the House of Representatives:

To the Honorable the Members of the House of
Representatives of the United States,
The memorial of the undersigned Printers and
Booksellers of the City of Philadelphia,
Respectfully represents,

That your memorialists view with extreme concern a proposition which they understand is at present under the consideration of your Honorable body, for imposing an additional duty upon the importation of printing types—a


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measure which they cannot but consider as a new proof of the paternal solicitude of the Legislature, extended to the infant manufactures of our country,—but against which your memorialists are urged by imperious considerations to remonstrate.

That the encouragement of Domestic Manufactures is an object worthy of Legislative attention, your Memorialists readily acknowledge. They are, however, of opinion, which with all due deference is submitted, that in those instances where our own manufactures are incompetent to the current demand, it is both unwise and impolitic, to prevent, by excessive imposts, a necessary supply by importation from foreign countries

Your memorialists beg leave to state, that there is, perhaps, no manufacture in our common country which so little requires the aid contemplated to be afforded by the duty in question, as that of Types. There is at present but one Foundry of English Type in operation within the Union, which they are warranted in saying is inadequate to the supply of the great and growing demand. The proposed duty will in no wise increase the capacity of supply and must operate merely, as a heavy and unequal burden on all persons mediately or immediately concerned in the printing business.

Your Memorialists also beg leave respectfully to state that the present duty on the importation of Type, affords sufficient encouragement to the manufacture within the country, so that they are neither altogether dependent on a foreign nation for their supply, nor lie at the mercy of the manufacturers at home.

Your memorialists forbear trespassing on the patience of the Legislature, and conclude with expressing a hope that your honorable body will take the premises into serious consideration, and adopt such measures therein as to your wisdom shall seem proper. And your memorialists, as in duty bound, will ever pray, &c, &c.

Jos: Crukshank. Henry Patrick Rice. Wm. Spotswood. Robt. Aitken. Thomas Dobson. William Ross. John McCulloch. Z. Poulson, junr. Mathew Carey. Wm. Bradford. Henry Sweitzer. John Ormrod. John H. Oswald. Robert Cochran. Hugh Maxwell. Thos Smith. Joseph Charless. Wm. Woodhouse. Sam1 Relf. Wm. Young. David Hogan. Charles Cist. James Humphreys. Hall & Sellers. Tho L. Plowman. Budd & Bartram. Solomon W. Conrad. William W. Woodward. John Conrad. J. W. Geyer. Peter Stewart. Jacob Johnson. Isaac Pearson. Benjamin Johnson. Thos Bradford, per Wm. Bradford. Wm Fry. Benjamin Davies. Thomas S. Manning. Joseph Groff.


Within two days after Duane's dispatch appeared in the Aurora, it was reprinted in at least three New York newspapers.[15] The


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following week, the New York editors printed the formal reports of the Philadelphia meeting[16] and the Daily Advertiser printed a short comment on the proposed duty. It called attention to the long article in the Philadelphia Gazette, and repeated the Gazette's mistake in thinking that the duty was an additional twenty per cent.[17] By this time the trade, ready to go into action, requested the printers and booksellers to meet at the Old Coffee House at seven o'clock, Saturday evening, February twenty-seventh.[18] According to the official report, Samuel Campbell was chosen chairman and George F. Hopkins, secretary. After the circular letter from Philadelphia was read, it was unanimously resolved to cooperate with the brethren of Philadelphia, and the Union. A petition to the House of Representatives was drafted, adopted, and ordered engrossed.[19] The unofficial report, however, told a much more interesting story. Cheetham and Denniston's American Citizen published it in the course of an article which defended the increase and which stated that Binny and Ronaldson opposed it because it would create competitors. According to the Citizen:
The meeting consisted of sixteen printers, booksellers, and type importers. It was with some difficulty that a chairman was obtained. Mr. Samuel Campbell was at length prevailed upon to take it, and Mr. George F. Hopkins was appointed Secretary. Mr. James Swords opened the business of the meeting by reading a letter which he had received from the chairman and secretary of the meeting of the printers of Philadelphia. This letter merely stated what they had done, and invited their co-operation; it entered not into the merits of the proposed additional duty. Mr. Swords then stated that he had mentioned his reception of the letter privately to Mr. Pintard, (now editor of the Daily Advertiser) who had prepared a suitable remonstrance against the proposed increase of duty. Mr. Denniston asked for specific information of the nature of the meeting—what the additional duty proposed by the committee of commerce and manufacture against which they intended to petition? Mr. Lang, alias Lawyer Lang, then rose, and moved that Mr. Denniston should give to himself the information which he himself required, and instantly dropt upon his chair. Finding that no information could be given him, Mr. Denniston produced the report of the committee of commerce and manufactures in which they propose an additional duty on types. This was read by the secretary. The meeting were


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astonished. Because Mr. Duane stated that a duty of 20 per cent. would be laid on types, it had been conceived by the typo's present, that this meant 20 per cent. additional duty, which added to the 12½ now paid, makes 32½ per cent. Whereas the report proposes an additional duty of 7½ per cent. only, which, if added to the 12½ now paid, would make the whole duty on types amount to 20 per cent. On this misconception the meeting was called. It is probable the Philadelphia meeting laboured under the same error. Mr. Denniston examined the subject, and stated two grounds for enquiry. 1st. Whether the establishment of foundaries would not benefit the country? 2d. If so, what means ought to be adopted to give them efficacy? He was decidedly in favor of the legislature affording such aid as would enable us to cast our own types, and concluded that this aid ought to consist of an adequately increased duty on the importation of foreign types. Mr. James Swords acknowledged the correctness of Mr. Denniston's remarks, but was of opinion, that to establish foundaries sufficient to supply our wants was impracticable. After a few words in reply from Mr. Denniston, the Chairman very gravely, if not very sagely, informed the meeting that they did not come there to discuss the subject, but to co-operate without discussion with their brethren of Philadelphia. Mr. Campbell and Mr. Swords are both importers of types, and, of course, interested in the non-increase of duty. Many of the Philadelphia meeting are also importers. This is sufficient to account for their opposition. Discussion being thus closed, Mr. Pintard's memorial was read and passed in the affirmative with the exception of Mr. Denniston's vote. The memorial, however, underwent some alteration. It was written under the impression that the proposed increase of duty was 20 per cent; and as this was viewed as tantamount to a prohibition of the importation of foreign types, the memorial was couched in correspondent terms. The error being at length discovered it underwent a suitable alteration. The public are left to draw their own conclusions from this statement of true facts.[20]
Two days later, the American Citizen reprinted Duane's long Aurora article[21] and on the same day the Evening Post defended the attack on the duty, declaring that the only persons who oppose them are Duane and Cheetham, "two foreigners." It concluded with a jeer at Thomas Jefferson as well as at his "protege," Duane:
Blest era of philosophism and philanthropy, which knows no distinction between natives and foreigners, citizens and aliens, other than forever to give an indiscriminate preference to the latter over the former![22]

And so on March 8, 1802, this petition was read in the House of Representatives:


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To the Honorable the House of Representatives of the United States;

The Memorial of the Printers and Booksellers of the City of New York, respectfully sheweth,

That, thro' the medium of the public papers and private correspondence, your memorialists have been informed that a proposition is now before your Honorable House for imposing a duty of Twenty per cent. on imported printing Types.

Conceiving this measure to be highly impolitic in itself, as directly calculated to do extensive injury to all persons concerned in printing, and indirectly to tax every reader in the United States for the emolument of the few persons who are concerned in[23] the business of Type-founding, they trust your Hon. House will not give its sanction to a measure which, according to the practical knowledge, and the most diligent inquiry of your memorialists, they believe to be founded in error and fraught with extensive mischief.

They beg leave to submit to your Honourable House, that at present there exists but one Type-Foundery[24]—in the United States—that they presume it is wholly out of the power of this concern to supply a twentieth part of the demand from printers in America: That there are many species of letters not made at this foundery which are essentially necessary in order properly to conduct the printing business—That the existing duty of 12 1/2 per cent. on printing types appears to be amply sufficient as a protecting duty to this manufacture, as the Foundery at present established in Philadelphia can afford to make and supply Types at a rate quite as reasonable as those imported from Europe.

On these grounds your memorialists respectfully trust that your Honourable House, taking the premises into consideration, will not impose a further duty on Printing Types, which would almost amount to a prohibition; a result which your memorialists, from their professional knowledge and pursuits, are persuaded would operate as a public evil, and would materially and injuriously affect the whole business of Printing and Bookselling throughout the United States.

All which is humbly submitted.
Signed in behalf of the associate meeting of the Printers and Booksellers of the City of New York, by

Samuel Campbell, Chairman. George F. Hopkins, Secretary. New York, 27th Febry. 1802. Ebenezr. Belden for himself & in behalf of the proprietor of the Commercial Advertiser. John Lang. John Turner. Wm. A Davis. Evert Duyckinck. Arthr. B. Tucker. Robert Falconer. Thomas Fenwick. Thos. S. Arden. John Crookes, for himself, and in behalf of the Proprietor of the Mercantile Advertiser. Wm. Falconer. Louis Jones. Mich1 Burnham for himself and in behalf of the proprietor of the New York Evening Post. Phinehas Heard. John Black. Ezra Sargeant. Ming & Young. G. & R. Waite. Charles Smith.


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John Tiebout. Geo Jansen. Cornelius Davis. Wm Durell. Will Barlas. S. W. Andrews. Thomas Swords. James Oram. Eglinton M. Boyle. John Reid. John Brown. Abrm Ogier Stansbury. Hugh Gaine. Matthew L. Davis. Ph Arnold. Peter A Mesier. Edwd. Mitchell. Naphtali Judah. Isaac Collins. Thomas Collins. Robert Wilson. John Pintard in behalf of the proprietors of the Daily Advertiser. Amos Butler. Jona Seymour. Stephen Stephens. Thomas B Jansen. J. Harrisson. Thomas Kirk. James Swords. Lewis Nichols & C°. M. McFarlane. Nath1 Bell. Paul R. Johnson.

The leading members of the book trade were not the only New Yorkers who protested. The Franklin Typographical Association, one of the earliest and least known of the typographical societies, forwarded this memorial, read in the House of Representatives on March 15, 1802:

To the Hon. the House of Representatives of the United States.

The Memorial of the undersigned members of the Franklin Typographical Association of the City of New York respectfully sheweth . . .

That your memorialists have been informed, through the medium of the Public Prints, that there is a proposition before your Honourable House, to impose a duty of twenty per cent. on imported Printing Types.

Under a full conviction, that every measure entered into by your Honorable House is intended to benefit the Union, your memorialists beg leave to suggest the impropriety of the proposed duty, and hope to be able to show, that, so far from being a beneficial act, it would be highly injurious, not only to your memorialists, but to all persons whose occupations are connected with the Printing Business, either as Printers, Book-binders or Paper-makers . . .

First---Your memorialists beg leave to state, that the addition of 7½ per cent. would almost prohibit the importation of Types; and as the business of Type-founding is yet but in its infancy in the United States, (the present foundery in Philadelphia not being able to furnish a twentieth part of the Type in general use, and being totally destitute of the Oriental, and of almost all the ornamental characters) resort must be had to the measure of importing Books; a measure which the master-printers and Booksellers of New York, by forming themselves into an association, have been patriotically endeavoring to suppress, and which would, almost immediately, deprive two thirds of the Journeymen Printers in the United States, of their means of subsistence, not to mention the great number of Boys, who are at present learning the Printing business, on which they must hereafter depend for a livelihood.

Second---The business of Printing being very expensive to establish, from the high price of materials, very few of those, who are obliged to resort to journey-work when they become free, ever have it in their power to realize a capital sufficient to commence business on their own account; and the contemplated


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additional duty, by enlarging the barrier, would still diminish their number, to the very great injury of the whole.

Third---As the characters for Printing Books in the dead Languages cannot be had in the United States, nor is it reasonable to expect that they will be furnished for forty years to come; and as there are a number of other works which cannot be done without European materials, all such characters and materials, at least, must, of necessity, be imported from Europe. . . . The consequence would be, that the printing of such Books must either be relinquished, or they must be done at such an expense, as would render them dearer to purchasers, than those of the same kind imported. This would be a severe blow to printing in this country, rising, as it now is, rapidly, to excellence:—and, indeed, in a short time, almost every description of Books must be had from Europe; which would not only distress your memorialists, in a very severe degree, but destroy, in a great measure, the business of Book-binding, and Paper-making, and give a heavy check to the dissemination of learning and useful knowledge.

Your memorialists beg leave, also, respectfully to state, that as no art is more conducive to the promotion of learning, liberty and happiness, than that of Printing, so it would seem the policy of the government of our country, to leave unshackled every article appertaining to it; and as the taking off the duty on Regulus of Antimony will be a very considerable encouragement to any foundery that may be established in the United States; and as the present Philadelphia foundery has been, and must still continue to be liberally encouraged; and, in fact, as Types may be here considered as a raw material to manufacture books; in order to promote the manufacture within ourselves, and thereby to prevent the importation of foreign Editions, we humbly submit to your Honourable House the propriety of taking off, altogether, the duty on Printing Types, or at least of reducing it, so that it may not, in any degree, impede the importation of them; and of laying an additional one, even more than equivalent, on imported Books, for the encouragement of the printing business. . . . If such encouragement be given, no doubt can be entertained of its being fully adequate, in a very few years, to the supply of not only the ordinary works of instruction, and amusement, but of the higher order of classics. But if shackled in the way which has been proposed in your Honourable House, your memorialists foresee an end of enterprize in Printing, and will probably have to seek some other means of obtaining subsistence.—To take off the duty on Types, and to lay an additional one on Books, your memorialists deem not only a wise, but a necessary measure, as the number of people now employed in the printing business, is very large, and is daily increasing.

Your memorialists beg leave further to remark, that all those who have arrived at any degree of eminence in the business of Type-founding in Europe, have so great a share of encouragement at home, as to render it highly improbable that any of them would emigrate to this country: Therefore we must expect,


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at best, if the duty takes place, to have those only (if any should come) who have been but newly established, or who might make their first commencement after their arrival here: consequently, we should still labor under the heavy disadvantage of having but imperfect founderies, and be obliged still to pay the heavy duty; or, which is more probable, import the Books which we should be unable to print. And your memorialists would add, for the information of those of your Honorable House who may not be acquainted with the nature of the Type founding business, or may not have had leisure to make sufficient inquiry, that it is such as to require, at, least, from fifteen to twenty years, before a foundery can be made in any manner perfect: And the truth of this assertion will appear manifest, when it is considered, that the foundery of Mesrs. Binney & Ronaldson, in Philadelphia, had been established in Europe for several years previous to its removal to this country, which took place at least six years ago, and they cannot now furnish a single perfect fount of common Type, owing to the labor and time indispensably necessary to cut the matrixes, &c. &c.—

Independent of these considerations, it must be obvious to all; that if the additional duty is laid on, the domestic founders will greatly enhance the price of their Types, which must, of course, occasion a rise on all kinds of Printing Work, and operate as a tax on every reader; from the student in college, to the peruser of the daily newspapers, throughout the United States.—

All which is humbly submitted.
John Clough, President
Walter W. Hyer, Vice President

John Hardcastle. S. W. Andrews. Robert Crumbie. John M. Williams. Harris Sage. Elisha Hosford. A. Menzies. John Hamill. Henry Wm Peckwell. John Moffat. Wm W. Vermilye. Joseph Pudney. E. B D Murphy. William T. Stockton. Charles Wiley. T. White. E. Hammond. Daniel Dodge. George Bruce. Robert Wilson. Henry C. Southwick. Richard Crooker. Thomas ONeill. Alexander McCarthy. E. Bowles. James Waterman. John Minor. Peter Jackson. John H. Sherman. Thomas Ringwood. Robert Hinchman. Joseph Newton. James H. Looker. Joseph Whartnaby. John Thorburn. James Thomson. Richard Smith. Samuel Marks. J. W. Tillman. Koertenes Schenck. Gineva [?] Salmon [?] William Lucy. Henry Gird, Junr. T. M. Tillman. Thos. Campbell. Monteith McFarlane. John Hogg. John Freeman. Elliot Hopkins. Wm. Pelsue. Godfrey Bowman. Alex Wilson. P. B. Gleeson. R. Saunders. James Holmes.


With characteristic caution, the Bostonians moved slowly but steadily. The announcement of the proposed tariff revision appeared nine days after it was printed in the Aurora.[25] And it was


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not until the ninth of March that a book trade meeting voted to present a memorial to Congress.[26] Three days later, the Boston Franklin Association passed a similar resolution.[27] Quite properly, they might have considered their task completed, but they continued to keep the public aware of the controversy. Two papers reprinted the report of the Committee of Commerce and Manufactures[28] and as late as March twenty-fourth, the Centinel reprinted an attack on the duty which originally appeared in Worcester a month before.[29]

On March 25, 1802, the following resolutions were read in the House of Representatives:

To the Honourable the Senate, and the Honourable the House of Representatives, of the United States in Congress assembled.

The Memorial of the Subscribers, Printers, Booksellers, and others, residing in Boston and its Vicinity, most respectfully represents,

That they have been informed from Sources which they have cause to fear are correct, that it is in Contemplation of a Committee of your Honourable Body to propose that a considerable additional Duty be laid on the Importation of Printing Types.

Considering it as a Fact that such is the Intention of your Committee, your Memorialists feel themselves necessitated to lay before your honourable Body the Reasons which induce them to conceive that the Measure, if adopted, will be oppressive to them and injurious to their Country.

1st. Because at present, they humbly conceive, it would be impossible to procure a Supply of Types in the United States, equal to the necessary Demand for them; more especially when it is considered that there is a necessity for a much greater variety of founts than can be manufactured in America, in order that the productions of the American press may hold any reasonable competition with those of Europe—

2d. Because the additional duty, by enhancing the expense on Imported Types, will probably induce the American type founders to advance their present prices in proportion to the additional expense of importation; so that, in fact, it will be burthening several hundred citizens, and cramping an important and interesting manufacture, merely to benefit an individual type foundery, or, at most, perhaps only two; the principal of which, has already, we learn, more orders


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than it can execute; and which, having no competition, will assume a monopoly of the business. On the disadvantages to a community of such monopolies, we trust, we need not enlarge.

3d. Because your memorialists conceive, that the business of making types, in the United States, with a suitable capital, can now be carried on to more advantage than in Great Britain; for the present charges of importation on them amount to about 25 Pr.Ct. and the raw materials of which types are made, or old type metal, can probably be procured nearly as cheap as in England; so that, excepting the extra price of labour, in America, the founders here may now command 25 per cent. more for their types, than the same types would cost at the European founderies, provided they are equally good.

4th. Because your memorialists respectfully conceive, that, under any circumstances, it is injurious to the public interest, and a discouraging precedent, to lay duties on articles used in necessary manufactures, which amount nearly to a prohibition, merely to enable individuals to manufacture, and make a large profit on any commodity:—it is, they conceive, oppressing the many for the benefit of the few.

5th. Because your memorialists have been in the habit of experiencing under former impost laws, particularly those of Massachusetts previous to the establishment of the present government of the United States that printing types have been considered as the implements of an important manufacture, and as such deserving encouragement, and therefore they have either been admitted to be imported free of duty, or considered as a raw material, and subjected to the lowest rate of impost only; the Legislators of both the General and State Governments considering, in this indulgence, that without such encouragement the art of Printing would be embarrassed; that it was important, in a Republican Government, that Books and Newspapers should be afforded as low as possible, in order that they may be within the means of purchase of every citizen; and that it were much more essential to the interests of this country that the means of learning and information should be cheap, than that the single business of type-making should be taken under the patronage of Government.

6th. Because, your memorialists conceive, that every measure which has a tendency to embarrass the art of Printing, not only discourages literature, and increases the expences of educating the rising generation, but is essentially injurious, in its operation, to the interests of the Bookinders (sic), Papermakers, and other manufacturers connected with them.—

7th. Because, we cherish a hope, that there is sufficient patriotism in the body of Printers to encourage type founding in America, without any restrictive laws;—and we feel confident, when we assert, that no types will be imported, when they can be procured as perfect, and on as good terms, manufactured in the United States. The encouragement afforded to the foundery at Philadelphia is a proof in point:—and it is easy to demonstrate, that a number of inconveniences,


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/ of which procuring imperfections in founts is not the least / arise from the importation of types from Europe. The only plea for the additional duty, which has come to the knowledge of your memorialists, is, that the price of types in Great Britain will be reduced by the Peace. This we readily believe and hope; but we respectfully enquire, will not Peace in Europe also reduce the price of labour in the United States; and thus enable the American type founder more advantageously to prosecute his business, and if he imports his raw materials from Europe, will not their prices also be reduced? especially as we learn with pleasure that the duty on antimony is to be taken off.

8th. Because your memorialists conceive, that such are the demands for types on the founderies in Great Britain, and so few the number of those founderies therein; that no fears need be entertained that English types will be sent to this country, for a market, with a view to injure the American founding: a number of your memorialists now find it difficult to have any considerable order expeditiously answered at the English founderies. For these reasons, and many others, which we trust will readily suggest themselves to your honourable body, your memorialists earnestly request, that no additional duty may be laid upon the importation of Printing Types. And as in duty bound will ever pray.

Boston, March 12, 1802.

Benja Edes. John Boyle. Samuel Hall. James White. David West. William Andrews. J N1. West. Oliver C. Greenleaf. Thomas Minns. Alexander Young. John Russell. James Cutler. Ebenr. Rhoades. Abijh. Adams. Eben Larkin. Samuel Larkin. Caleb Bingham. William T Clap. Benjamin Loring. Josiah Loring. Henry Bilson Legge. Joseph Bumstead. William Manning. John Roulstonejnr. James Loring. Lemuel Blake. Ebenr T. Andrews. Wm. P. Blake. J. & T. Fleet. Benja. Russell. Andrew Newell. Benja. Hurd. John R. Gould. Ensign Lincoln.

To the Honorable Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America, in Congress assembled.

The subscribers, members of the "Boston Franklin Association," journeymen Printers of Boston;—beg leave with all due respect and consideration, to present the following Memorial:—


---Placed, by Providence, in a land that fosters the civil and political rights of freemen;—in a country that has built its liberties and happiness upon social intercourse, justice, and knowledge;—and whose citizens enjoy the superior privilege, at all times, in a proper manner, to express their sentiments on public measures, whether they be actually adopted, or merely proposed:---Considering that "such Manufactures as are obviously capable of affording to the United States an adequate supply of their several and respective objects, ought to be promoted by the aid of Government:"—but when such domestic Manufactures are not "obviously capable" of supplying the various


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and necessary demands of the country; should they be so far preferred as to injure the best interests of those classes of society, who are, and from existing local circumstances must continue to be dependent for some time to come on foreign Manufactures?—Laudable as is the intention of Government, to afford prompt and friendly assistance to our own Manufactures, in preference to those of foreign countries; we yet feel confident they will first consult their nature, their expediency, and their utility.

---Fully impressed with these general truths; and having observed that your Committee of Commerce and Manufactures have proposed "that it is expedient to impose a duty, in future, of 20 per cent. ad valorem on Printing Types;" we should be wanting in justice to ourselves, and perhaps to our common country, did we not promptly and respectfully remonstrate; and on principles, we trust, that even those who petitioned to have the additional duty laid on, cannot, but consent to as just and equitable.

---Having a perfect knowledge of the relative branches that constitute our profession; and of course knowing what materials are necessary to its use, whether for elegance, convenience, or durability;—we feel assured, that the Philadelphia Type Foundery could not possibly furnish either the quantity or the quality requisite:—nor could it be able to afford those numerous improvements which we may receive from Europe; and which are most essential, not only to our interest, but the typographical character of the United States.

---as well, in our opinion, might an additional or burthensome duty be laid on foreign hemp and cotton, because, in some small part of this country, it can be raised:—Those States, who could not raise the articles, could not feel greater embarrassment or injury, than the proposed additional duty on Types would affect Printers, and others concerned:—for as the non-producing States would have to pay whatever price was demanded, and the consumers also have to suffer by the inferiority and want of the articles;—in a similar manner the proposed additional duty on Types would affect us, and through us the community at large.

---Whoever is acquainted with the nature of our business, will undoubtedly be fully sensible, that the duty proposed goes to sap if not destroy its most respectable and useful existence;—that, particularly to young men, like us, about entering business, after a laborious, and not far above penurious apprenticeship, it threatens to annihilate our prospects as future masters and as happy and useful members of society:—while our country itself reaps no essential benefit, but actually suffers; perhaps without receiving an honor for maintaining, by heavy duty, a trifling and partial manufacture, which, without competitors, would not only monopolize to itself; but tend to cause Europeans, who must be acquainted with the futility and barreness of our foundery, to encrease their demands;—and thus place our avocation in an impoverished, fatal situation.

---If our country has derived any glory from the freedom of inquiry


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permitted; if it has become, like Rome and Athens, celebrated for its general literature; if, in short, knowledge ought not to be taxed, and its circulation thereby impeded, if not annihilated:—then your Memorialists conceive, that they, the promulgators, ought not to suffer in an occupation, so necessary, and so important;—particularly as their materials were formerly free of all duty, and merely considered as the tools of mechanics.

---From these considerations, and others too numerous to particularize; your Memorialists humbly pray and hope, That the proposed additional duty on foreign printing Types, be not laid on, as recommended.

William Burdick. Samuel Gilbert. Nathaniel Willis, Jr. Whiting Skinner. Thomas Dean. Joshua Belcher. Edmund Munroe. Committee.

Seth H. Moore. George Wells. Woodbridge Skinner. Calvin Day. Oliver Steele. Josiah Ball. Edward Gray jun. Howard S. Robinson. Edward Oliver. Joshua Simond. David Francis. Eleazer G. House. Benja. Lindsey. Edward P. Seymour. Jona. Howe. Sheldon Thompson. Thomas Kennard. John C. Gray. Benja. True. Thos Kennedy. Asahel Seward. John McKown. William Harrington. Samuel Allen.

N. B. Presuming it might be important that the memorial be received by the Legislature, as soon as possible; and as several members who have not signed it, are either absent, or cannot be obtained for signature perhaps in reason; it has been thought most prudent and eligible to forward it in its present state.


As soon as the notice of the Philadelphia meeting reached Baltimore, it was printed with the following paragraph appended:

As no time ought to be lost in arresting the progress of a bill which aims so deadly a blow at one of the most flourishing mechanic arts in this country, those interested in this city should be early in co-operating with their brethren of Philadelphia. A meeting therefore of the printers, booksellers, paper-makers, book-binders and stationers, of this city, is requested at James Bryden's Fountain Inn, on Friday evening next at 6 o'clock—All of whom will, more immediately or remotely, be affected by the operation of the contemplated duty.[30]
At the meeting, Samuel Butler, Vincent Bonsal, and Matthew Brown were appointed to prepare a memorial for approval the following evening.[31] After it was approved, it was set up in type and forwarded to Congress in print, the only one presented in this fashion. It was read in the House of Representatives on March 8, 1802:


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To the Hon. the Senate and House of Representatives of the

United States of America;

The Subscribers, Printers and others, of the City of Baltimore, who feel themselves affected by the additional duty which they learn is contemplated to be laid on imported Printing Types,

Beg leave respectfully to represent,

That in the opinion of your Memorialists, any further duty on the Implements of Printing would at this time be impolitic, inasmuch as it would encrease the already too great embarrassments to young beginners in the manufacture of Books; and unjust, inasmuch as it would tax the many for the benefit of the few (for a mere individual) and oppress those whose taste, genius and exertions in a science, if such it may be termed, still in its infancy, have produced specimens of correctness and elegance in the new world, which begin to form a competition with the works of the long established and extensive printing houses of the old—That to encrease the present difficulty of obtaining those implements absolutely requisite, and which in the printing business are more expensive than perhaps in any other, and require even under present circumstances a considerable capital, will be to many, a serious interdiction of the trade, and must force the country for a long time to depend for the Book already made and bound, upon those, who in a little while, with proper encouragement to the Press, can furnish only the tools wherewith to make it.

To check the progress of an art already sufficiently embarrassed, would also, your Memorialists believe, materially injure other and essential branches too, of mechanics in this country—those of the paper-maker, of the book-binder and of the skin-dresser. Nor could the book-seller repair the injury done him, even by supplying himself from abroad with those school and common books, which the manufacturer now furnishes him with at home.

Your Memorialists would request your serious attention to the following facts,—facts which they hope will have their due influence with your honorable body: On a moderate computation there are nearly one thousand printing houses in the United States, which, notwithstanding the great number of hands they employ—the vast quantity of paper they consume—and the constant supply of various sized types they require—are able to raise but a feeble mound against the flood of imported literature, which threatens to inundate the country. To supply even those offices with type, not to mention others daily establishing, there is but one foundery* in operation on this extensive quarter of the globe—and this but a partial one, since not half of the various denominations and sizes of types used in our mother tongue are cast at it; and not one of the Greek, Oriental and numerous other characters. To erect other founderies, or to complete the present, much taste and many years application are requisite, whilst in the mean time old established founderers will scarcely be induced by the proposed duty, to remove from Europe to this country. From a correct view of the consequences


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of a dependence on this foundery, or on others which may be established, for that supply of implements which the business daily requires, your honorable body will be fully able to judge whether the apprehensions of your Memorialists be not well founded.

The foundery at Philadelphia, it is, however, the interest of the country, it is the interest of the printer to encourage, as far as it can be done consistently with the prosperity of thousands, which should never be sacrificed to the aggrandizement of any individual—and encouraged it has been, as the proprietors themselves acknowledge by the multiplicity of their business and the handsome property they have already acquired—Nor can it arise from a want of patronage, that the money must be deposited with them in advance, at the time of sending an order, although the type, from the great demand, cannot be furnished for many months after. The desire of your petitioners, for the further prosperity and extension of this foundery shall prevent them, although there is but too much room, from drawing an injurious comparison between the durability, symmetry and requisite finish of the type cast there, and of that which is procured from abroad.

To tax then, the industry, genius and enterprize of so useful a class of manufacturers as Printers confessedly are, by an exorbitant addition to an impost, already heavy, on the only implements almost with which the manufacture can be carried on, would inevitably be to encourage the importation of literature from abroad—to cause a great rise on foreign as well as domestic made books— to injure if not ruin, a young and flourishing art with its dependencies among us—to multiply the obstacles to knowledge—and to strengthen the empire of ignorance and vice.

Your Memorialists pray your honorable body to excuse their prolixity on a subject which few, except professional men, can sufficiently know or appreciate.

Note. There is a small foundery at Germantown, which casts German letter only.

(Signed) Warner & Hanna, Thomas, Andrews & Butler, Prentiss & Cole, Nathaniel Knight, Samuel M'Crea, A. Stuart, Thomas Dobbin, James Rice, Samuel Sower, Wm. Pechin, W: L. Crosgrove, William Monday, Michael Deal, Hugh Maxwell, Alex: Martin, Bonsal & Niles, George Keatinge, Solomon Cotton & Co., M. & J. Conrad & Co., Caleb Bonsal, John B. Colvin, John Hagerty, Abner Neal, Geo. M'Dowell, Tho. Meeteer & Son, Yundt & Brown, John Hayes.

[The following is written by hand:]

Certified to be a true Copy from the original

Geo. Hill Chairman
Matthew Brown, Secry


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The National Intelligencer, after printing the report of the Philadelphia meeting,[32] carried the following notice:

A meeting of the Printers and Booksellers of the City of Washington and of George Town is requested at Mr. Barney's Tavern on Saturday at 1 o'clock P. M. in order to consult with a committee of the Printers and Booksellers of Alexandria on measures proper to be pursued in relation to anv contemplated imposition of additional duties on imported Types.[33]
Curiously enough, no record of a petition from the District of Columbia can be located. One suspects that Duane attended the meeting and persuaded the group to desist.


At the Carolina Coffee House on March 15, the printers, booksellers, bookbinders, and stationers of Charleston considered "the propriety of addressing congress on the additional duty proposed to be laid on Printing Types."[34] On the following evening, they adopted this memorial,[35] read in the House of Representatives on March 30, 1802:

South Carolina.

To the Honorable the Speaker & members of the House of Representatives of the United States of America:

The Memorial of the Subscribers, printers, booksellers, & Stationers, in the City of Charleston,

Respectfully sheweth,

That it is with concern your memorialists learn, that your honorable body have it in contemplation to lay an additional duty on Printing Types, imported into the United States; which, when laid, will be equal to 20 p cent on the Cost; and that this will be done under the idea of giving encouragement to the manufacturers of Types in the United States.—Your Memorialists beg leave to assure your honorable body, that if they thought this Idea was well founded, & they could believe that the different fonts of Types used in their Business, could be obtained in the United States, it would give them great satisfaction to find encouragement, in the way proposed, given to the manufactures of their country; but knowing that at this time, there are not founderies amongst us that can furnish the twentieth part of the existing demand, they can


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view the intended additional duty in no other light than an act that will distress your memorialists, and all others concerned in the business of Printing, Bookselling, &c. and not add to the general good of the Country. Your memorialists beg leave also to observe to your honorable body, that while duties on almost every species of merchandise will fall but lightly on individuals, being borne by the great mass of consumers, duties on mechanical Implements, coming out of the pocket of the laborious artisan alone, must tend to check the progress of trade, and damp the incentives to industry.—Therefore they pray that your honorable body will not agree to the proposed additional duty on Types.

And your memorialists, as in duty bound, will pray.

Charleston, March 17, 1802. Benjm F. Timothy, W P Young, Bayfield Waller, John Query, John Crow, John Dacqueny, Thomas Sheppard, David R Williams, Tho. Campbell Cox, Peter Freneau, G. M. Bounetheau, T B. Bowen,

Since the report of the Committee of Commerce and Manufactures had been committed to the Committee of the Whole House, each of the above petitions, when read, was also referred to the Committee of the Whole House. On December 14, 1802, these petitions were referred to the Committee of Commerce and Manufactures. The committee reported back on February 21, 1803, when the House, adopting their report, resolved that

the Secretary of the Treasury be, and he is hereby, directed to prepare and lay before Congress, early in their next session, a plan for the levying new and more specific duties . . . .[36]
And so, in the Tariff Act of March 27, 1804, regulus of antimony was exempted from duty, but there was no mention of any additional duty on imported printing type. Like most of the lobbies which were to come, this one had been successful.



All documents and quotations are printed without change of text. For help in assembling these items, the writer wishes to thank Lloyd A. Brown; Lyman H. Butterfield; Ralph R. Roberts, Clerk of the House of Representatives; Virginia Rugheimer; and Elizabeth Thorogood.


American State Papers, ed. Walter Lowrie and Matthew StC. Clarke (Washington, 1832), V, 730.


Philadelphia Aurora, Feb. 15, 1802, p. 2, col. 1.


Poulson's American Daily Advertiser, Feb. 16, 1802, p. 3, col. 2.




Philadelphia Gazette, Feb. 16, 1802, p. 3, col. 3.


Ibid., Feb. 17, 1802, p. 3, col. 3.


Ibid., Feb. 18, 1802, p. 3, col. 3.


Ibid., Feb. 18, 1802, p. 3, col. 4.


Philadelphia Gazette, Feb. 19, 1802, p. 3, col. 3; Poulson's American Daily Advertiser, Feb. 20, 1802, p. 3, col. 3.


Reports of the meeting appear in Philadelphia Aurora, Feb. 22, 1802, p. 2, col. 3; Poulson's American Daily Advertiser, Feb. 22, 1802, p. 3, cols. 1-2.


Philadelphia Aurora, March 2, 1802, p. 2, cols. 1-2.


Philadelphia Gazette, March 4, 1802, p. 3, col. 2.


Ibid., March 2, 1802, p. 3, col. 2; Poulson's American Daily Advertiser, March 3, 1802, p. 3, col. 1.


New York Evening Post, Feb. 16, 1802, p. 3, col. 2; Daily Advertiser, Feb. 17, 1802, p. 3, col. 1; American Citizen, Feb. 17, 1802, p. 2, col. 3.


New York Evening Post, Feb. 25, 1802, p. 2, col. 4; Daily Advertiser, Feb. 25, 1802, p. 3, col. 3.


Daily Advertiser, Feb. 26, 1802, p. 3, col. 3.


New York Evening Post, Feb. 25, 1802, p. 3, col. 3; Daily Advertiser, Feb. 26, 1802, p. 3, col. 5.


Reports of the meeting appear in New York Evening Post, March 1, 1802, p. 3, col. 1; Daily Advertiser, March 1, 1802, p. 3, col. 2.


American Citizen, March 2, 1802, p. 2, col. 3.


Ibid., March 4, 1802, p. 2, col. 4, p. 3, col. 1.


New York Evening Post, March 4, 1802, p. 3, col. 2.


Typefounding deleted.


they deleted.


Columbian Centinel, Feb. 24, 1802, p. 2, col. 1.


Ibid., March 10, 1802, p. 2, col. 4; Independent Chronicle, March 11, 1802, p. 2, col. 3.


Columbian Centinel, March 13, 1802, p. 2, col. 4. Notice that memorial is ready to be signed is in Independent Chronicle, March 15, 1802, p. 3, col. 3.


Columbian Centinel, March 13, 1802, p. 2, col. 2; Independent Chronicle, March 15, 1802, p. 2, cols. 2-3.


Columbian Centinel Extra, March 24, 1802, p. 2, col. 1, from Thomas's Massachusetts Spy, Feb. 24, 1802, p. 3, cols. 3-4.


Federal Gazette, Feb. 24, 1802, p. 3, col. 3; Baltimore Telegraphe, Feb. 25, 1802, p. 3, col. 5.


Federal Gazette, Feb. 27, 1802, p. 3, col. 3; Baltimore Telegraphe, Feb. 27, 1802, p. 3, col. 2.


National Intelligencer, March 3, 1802, p. 3, cols. 2-3.


Ibid., March 5, 1802, p. 3, col. 2.


Charleston Times, March 15, 1802, p. 3, col. 2.


Ibid., March 16, 1802, p. 3, col. 2.


Journal of the House of Representatives of the United States (Washington, 1826), IV, 356.