Agriculture, manufactures, commerce & navigation, the four pillars of our prosperity, are then most thriving when left most free to individual enterprize. protection from casual embarrasments however may sometimes be seasonably interposed. if, in the course of your observations or enquiries, they should appear to need any aid, within the limits of our constitutional powers, your sense of their importance is a sufficient assurance they will occupy your attention.
First Annual (State of the Union) Address, November 27, 1801
Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Smart leaders know when hands-off is best!
Farming, making things, selling things and shipping comprised the foundation of America’s prosperity. Those businesses thrived at their very best when left to “individual enterprize,” in other words, free from government interference.
Still, there may be times when limited government aid was helpful. Since this address was to the Congress, he invited their aid from time to time, as they saw fit, provided it was “within the limits of our constitutional powers.” In this instance, those powers were limited to promoting commerce and mediating interstate disputes. Beyond that, businesspeople did not need or benefit from Congressional interference.