Adams Papers

From John Adams to James Warren, 14 February 1776

To James Warren

Philadelphia Feb. 14. 17761

Dear Sir

I Shall inclose to a Lady of my Acquaintance all the News Papers which have been printed in this City, Since my arrival, by which you will See, to what Point the Tide of Political Sentiment, Setts. Scarcely a Paper comes out, without a Speculation or two in open Vindication of opinions, which Five Months ago were Said to be unpopular. A vast Majority of the People, indeed, I very well know Secretly entertained the Same Perswasions then, but injudiciously avoided Speaking out. The Restraint however, is now taken off.

I expect to <see> hear the New England Papers, very soon chiming in, with the Concert.

I have written to Mr. Sever that Congress have ordered Ten Tons of Salt Petre to the Council, to be made into Powder and requested him to communicate it to the Court.2 I hope every Nerve will be exerted with the Utmost Vigour to sett up Powder Mills, compleat them, and procure Persons skilled in the Manufacture of Powder. I am not without Apprehensions that such Persons will be wanted.

I apprehend however, that there are Persons who are possessed of the necessary Knowledge of the Composition and Proportions of Ingredients. Even Mr. Reed of Weymouth I conjecture would be able to instruct others. The Same Rule, which has made a small Quantity in a Family Mortar, applied to a large Mill will make a larger Quantity. No Expence No Industry ought to be Spared.

Dont fail, my dear Friend, to inform me, of every Step in the Progress of the Manufactures of Salt Petre and Powder.

Measures are taking to make Cannon both of Brass and Iron. Some Experiments have been made in Maryland, Philadelphia and New York, with success. I will acquaint you with particulars as fast as I can. I am, your Friend,

Shall We be able to get Seamen to man our Navy when our Trade shall be opened? Will they not be all better employed?

RC in JA’s hand (M–Ar:194, p. 250–251); addressed: “The Hon. James Warren Esqr Speaker of the House Watertown”; docketed: “A Letter from —— Philadelphia Feby 14th 1776.”

1Because the docket entry leaves blank the name of the writer, this letter may be the “anonymous” one of 14 Feb. referred, together with a letter from Elbridge Gerry of 6 March, to a House Committee on 14 March (Mass., House Jour. description begins Journals of the House of Representatives of Massachusetts [1715- ], Boston, reprinted by the Massachusetts Historical Society, 1919- . (For the years for which reprints are not yet available, the original printings are cited, by year and session.) description ends , 1775–1776, 4th sess., p. 7).

2On 12 Feb. the congress had apportioned seventy tons of saltpeter received earlier—fifty tons to the Pennsylvania Committee of Safety, ten to the powder mill of the late J. R. Livingston, and ten to Massachusetts (JCC description begins Worthington C. Ford and others, eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789, Washington, 1904–1937; 34 vols. description ends , 4:124, 128–129).

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