Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography/Coxe, Tench

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COXE, Tench, political economist, b. in Philadelphia, Pa., 22 May, 1755; d. there, 17 July, 1824. His mother was a daughter of Tench Francis. His father came of a family well known in American affairs. One ancestor was a proprietor of the province of West Jersey, and sent out the first ship that ever entered the Mississippi from the gulf. Another wrote “A Description of the Province of Carolana,” and drew that scheme for the union of the colonies against French aggression which Franklin copied in the “Albany Plan.” Tench received his education in the Philadelphia schools, and intended to study law; but his father determined to make him a merchant, and he was placed in the counting-house of Coxe & Furman, becoming a partner at the age of twenty-one. Those were the times that tried men's souls, and the boy proved unequal to the trial. In 1776 he resigned from the militia, turned royalist, left the city to join the British, and came back in 1777 with the army under Howe. When Howe left, Coxe was arrested and paroled. He now turned whig, and began a long political career. In 1786 he was sent to the Annapolis convention, and in 1788 to the Continental congress. He next became a federalist, and was made assistant secretary of the treasury in 1789, and commissioner of the revenue in 1792; but from this place Adams removed him. He then turned republican, and in the canvass of 1800 published Adams's famous letter to him regarding Pinckney. For this he was reviled by the federalists as a renegade, a tory, and a British guide, and was rewarded by Jefferson in 1803 with the place of purveyor of public supplies, which he held till 1812. In 1804 Coxe organized and led a party at Philadelphia opposed to the election to congress of Michael Lieb, and this brought him again into public notice. Though a republican, he was for three months daily abused by the “Aurora”; was called a tory, a Federal rat, a British guide who had entered Philadelphia in 1777 with laurel in his hat, and his party was nicknamed the “quids.” The term is commonly supposed to have been first applied to the little band led by John Randolph in 1806, but this is a mistake. The claims of Tench Coxe to remembrance are his labors in behalf of American manufactures, and his statistical writings on political economy. He deserves, indeed, to be called the father of the American cotton industry. He it was who first attempted to bring an Arkwright machine to the United States, and first urged the people of the south to give their time to raising cotton. His speech before the delegates of the constitutional convention is in the “American Museum” of September, 1787. His treasury papers are in the “American State Papers” (vol. i., Finance). His chief works are: “An Inquiry into the Principles for a Commercial System for the United States” (1787); “Examination of Lord Sheffield's Observations on the Commerce of the United Provinces” (1792); “View of the United States” (1787-'94). He wrote also on naval power, on encouragement of arts and manufactures, on the cost, trade, and manufacture of cotton, on the navigation act, and on arts and manufactures in the United States.