Skeptics of corporate welfare have been asking that same question for two and a quarter centuries now. Defenders of the policy have not been able to provide a pithy, let alone lucid, answer, though the lack thereof has done nothing to stem the flow of federal dollars to business beneficiaries. The United States that Hamilton sought to turn toward manufacturing was an agricultural nation, though its eastern ports conducted a brisk trade in certain goods. The Revolutionary War had spurred the development of firearms and munitions manufactories, but the pace of industrialization was far too laggard for Hamilton's taste. On receiving the request for a report from the Congress, Hamilton did what any author facing a mammoth task would do: he asked for help. He sent out a query to the various local societies for the promotion of manufactures that were then dappling the new nation.