Papers of John Adams, volume 4

I. Resolutions on Saltpeter and Powder Mills, 23 February 1776 JA Continental Congress I. Resolutions on Saltpeter and Powder Mills, 23 February 1776 Adams, John Continental Congress
I. Resolutions on Saltpeter and Powder Mills
In Congress, February 23, 1776

Resolved,1 That it be recommended to the several Assemblies, Conventions, Councils or Committees of Safety, and Committees of Correspondence and Inspection in the United Colonies, to exert themselves in devising farther ways and means of promoting and encouraging the manufacture of Salt-petre, and of introducing that manufacture into private families.

Resolved, That it be recommended to the several Assemblies and Conventions in the United Colonies, that they immediately establish public works in each and every county in their respective Colonies, at the expence of such Colonies, for the manufacture of salt-petre, and appoint Committees of their own members immediately to set up such manufactures.

Resolved, That it be recommended to the Assemblies, Conventions, or Councils of Safety of every Colony, forthwith to erect Powder Mills in their respective Colonies, and appoint Committees to build such mills, and procure persons well skilled in the manufacture of powder, at the expence of such Colonies.

Resolved, That a Committee of this Congress,2 to consist of one member from each Colony, be appointed to consider of farther ways and means of promoting and encouraging the manufactures of Salt-petre, Sulphur and Powder in these Colonies, and to correspond with the Several Assemblies and Conventions, and Councils or Committees 5of Safety in the Several Colonies, that this Congress may be, from time to time, truly informed of the progress made in these manufactures in all the Colonies.3

Reprinted from (Pennsylvania Gazette, 28 Feb. 1776); Dft not found.


According to Richard Smith's Diary, these resolutions were offered by JA (Burnett, ed., Letters of Members , 1:361). The objectives were briefly stated in one item of JA's memorandum of Feb.? 1776 , which may have been a kind of strategic plan for those in the congress pressing toward independence ( Diary and Autobiography , 2:231 and notes thereto). JA apparently presented the resolves as an individual, for he was not a member of the Secret Committee, which had been entrusted with the task of acquiring saltpeter and powder (same, 3:340–341). He had long worked through his correspondents, however, to urge greater production of these war necessities.


The committee chosen included Josiah Bartlett, Robert Treat Paine, Stephen Hopkins, Samuel Huntington, Lewis Morris, Jonathan Dickinson Sergeant, Charles Humphreys, George Read, William Paca, Carter Braxton, Joseph Hewes, Edward Rutledge, and Archibald Bulloch ( JCC , 4:171). The names were also printed in the newspaper.


The congress not only passed these resolutions but ordered their publication (same).

II. Resolutions Concerning the Canadian Campaign, 8 March 1776 JA Continental Congress II. Resolutions Concerning the Canadian Campaign, 8 March 1776 Adams, John Continental Congress
II. Resolutions Concerning the Canadian Campaign
8 March 17761

Resolved, That the gentlemen who are appointed to go into Canada, be desired to enquire into the cause of the imprisonment of the officers of Militia,2 in that country and others, and take such measures in concert with the commanding officer of the continental forces there, for their enlargement or confinement, as are consistent with the principles of justice, and the safety of the United Colonies.

That the provisions made by General Lee and General Schuyler to supply the army in Canada with pork, the direction given by General Lee to have wheat ground into flour for their use, and his contract with the company of carpenters, be approved of; and that Mr. Peter Zabriskie, of Hackinsack, be employed to transport the pork, to be procured in New Jersey, to Hudson's river, according to General Schuyler's desire.

That when the articles specified, in the rations allowed to the prisoners of war, cannot be procured, the persons who supply them with other provisions, be entitled to eight pence, of New York currency, or one-twelfth of a dollar3 for every prisoner per day:

That Indians be not employed as soldiers in the armies of the United Colonies, before the tribes to which they belong shall, in a na-6tional council, held in the customary manner, have consented thereunto, nor then, without express approbation of Congress.

That General Schuyler be directed to provide such a number of batteaus for the service in Canada, as shall be sufficient for it.

That General Schuyler be desired to purchase the cloth, which Mr. John Henry, of Albany, hath for tents.

That the committee of inspection and observation for the city and liberties of Philadelphia, be desired to collect all the gold and silver coin they can, to be exchanged for continental bills of credit,4 for the service of Canada.

Reprinted from ( JCC , 4:191–192); Dft not found.


On 4 March the following letters were referred to the committee elected to prepare instructions to the Commissioners to Canada, which had been chosen on 17 Feb., and which was composed of JA, George Wythe, and Roger Sherman: from Gen. Wooster, of 11 Feb. (with enclosures) and 13 Feb.; from Gen. Arnold, of 1 and 12 Feb.; from Gen. Schuyler, of 15, 20, 21, and 23 Feb.; from the New Hampshire Convention, of 8 Feb.; and from Gen. Lee, of 29 Feb. On 8 March the committee brought in its report, and the congress passed the resolutions reprinted here ( JCC , 4:159, 182–183, 190–192). As chairman, JA presented the committee's report, and, according to Richard Smith's Diary, “a long Altercation followed on the first Article of a Report made by John Adams for reconciling the Differences between the Generals Schuyler and Wooster. The Article was at last voted out and other Parts of the Report adopted” (Burnett, ed., Letters of Members , 1:382–383). The bad feeling between Schuyler and Wooster had persisted for months; its latest manifestation was Wooster's objection to Schuyler's sending back to Canada for what he called humanitarian reasons prisoners of war whom Wooster regarded as dangerous to the American cause. This disagreement provoked disputes over the two generals' interpretations of the kind of orders Schuyler could properly give to Wooster, a commander in the field. For their letters see Force, Archives , 4th ser., 4:851–852, 1001–1004, 1007–1008.


See Instructions to the Commissioners to Canada, No. III, note 5 (below).


This phrase giving the equivalent in dollars of New York currency was taken by Editor Ford from the “Corrected Journal.”


Ford supplied “of credit” from the “Corrected Journal.”