The month of December should not come to a close without manufacturing folks across America taking a moment to raise a toast to Alexander Hamilton. It was 214 years ago – in December of 1791 – that he wrote his Report on the Subject of Manufactures, which laid out the framework for the modern American manufacturing economy. The enormous social, economic and national benefits that all of us in manufacturing provide to the U.S. and the rest of the world are spelled out in this remarkable document.
In the adulation for Thomas Jefferson instilled in all of us from birth, it is little known that he vehemently opposed Hamilton and the idea of America becoming a manufacturing country. He was adamant about our remaining an agrarian nation. Thanks to Hamilton and his great vision, Jefferson lost the debate. They put the wrong guy on Mount Rushmore, as far as I am concerned. Perhaps the selection committee was put off by minor character flaws like Hamilton’s inability to keep his hands off of other men’s wives and a penchant for instigating duels. Its a shame to hold such trivial shortcomings against the man from who every manufacturing genius from Henry Ford to Taichi Ohno is descended, don’t you think?
The few of you who, like me, suffer from an absence of a social life may want to read Hamilton’s magnificent work. The more normal among you can simply take my word for it – December is the anniversary of a great event in American history. When the glasses are lifted at parties across the land this weekend – and every New Year’s Eve – all of us who make a living in manufacturing ought to remember to toss one down for Alex, the true founder of our national feast.