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Browsing: Papers of John Adams, Volume 3


Docno: ADMS-06-03-02-0114

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Warren, James
Date: 1775-10-21

To James Warren

[salute] Dear Sir

I believe I shall surfeit you with Letters, which contain nothing, but Recommendations of Gentlemen to your Attention, especially as you have So many important affairs to take up all your Time and Thoughts.
But the Bearers, are Gentlemen, who come so well recommended to me that I could not refuse my self the Pleasure of giving them an opportunity of Seeing my Friend Warren, of whom you must know I am very proud.
The Name of one of them is John Folwell, the other Josiah Hart, each of them a Captain of a Company of Militia in the County of Bucks in this Province. Mr. Joseph Hart the Father of one of them has exerted himself with much Success in procuring Donations for Boston.
{ 225 }
These Travellers visit the Camp from the best Motive that of gaining Knowledge in the military Art by Experience, that their Country may have the Use of it, whenever there shall be an opportunity.1
You will greatly oblige them by giving them a Letter to General Thomas, and by introducing them to such Persons and Places as will best answer the honest and usefull End they have in View.
I could wish them as well as other Strangers introduced to H. Knox and young Josiah Waters,2 if they are any where about the Camp. These young Fellows if I am not mistaken would give strangers no contemptible Idea of the military Knowledge of Massachusetts in the sublimest Chapters of the Art of War.
Salt Petre is certainly making in considerable Quantities in several Places. I wish to know what success Dr. Whiting has.3
You wonder, that certain Improprieties are not felt. Well you may. But I have done finding fault. I content myself with blushing alone, and mourning in Secret the Loss of Reputation our Colony Suffers, by giving Such Samples of her Sons to the World. Myself, remember the worst Sample of all. Pray change it.4
RC (MHi:Warren-Adams Coll.); addressed: “Hon. James Warren Esqr Speaker of the House Watertown Per Favr Messrs Follwell and Hart”; above the address: “J.A.”; docketed: “Mr. J: A: Lettr Octr. 21. 1775.”
1. On this date JA also addressed to William Tudor a letter of introduction for the two men. The only significant additional information in it is the following: “The Continental association is most rigidly and Sacredly observed, throughout the Continent in all material Branches of it. Not a Vessell puts to Sea any where” (MHi:Tudor Papers).
2. Henry Knox, later in charge of Washington's artillery (DAB), and Capt. Josiah Waters, who helped direct the construction of fortifications near Cambridge after the Battle of Bunker Hill (William Heath, Memoirs, ed. William Abbatt, N.Y., 1901, p. 16).
3. See Warren to JA, 20 Oct., note 19 (above).
4. JA is referring to an earlier exchange between the two on the impropriety of Hancock's conduct. The reference to “Samples” is to the intercepted letter of Benjamin Harrison to Washington. In concluding, JA asks again that he be relieved of his congressional post (JA to Warren, 19 Sept.; Warren to JA, 1 Oct.; JA to Warren, 30 Sept. [calendar entry], all above).

Docno: ADMS-06-03-02-0115

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Warren, James
Date: 1775-10-21

To James Warren

[salute] Dear Sir

We must bend our Attention to Salt Petre. We must make it. While B. is Mistress of the Sea, and has so much Influence with foreign Courts, We cannot depend upon a Supply from abroad.
It is certain that it can be made here because it is certain that it has been formerly and more latterly. Dr. Graham of White Plains in the Colony of New York told me, that he has made Some thousands { 226 } of Pounds Weight, many years ago, by Means of a German Servant whom he bought and found to be good for nothing else.
Messrs. De Witts, one of Windham the other of Norwich have made a considerable Quantity, a sample of which has been shown me by Coll. Dyer, and they have made a large Collection of Materials for making more.
Mr. Wisner of New York,1 informs me that his son has made a Quantity of very good, by the Method published by the Continental Congress.
Two Persons belonging to York Town in this Colony have made one hundred and twenty Weight, have received the Premium and are making more.
A Gentleman in Maryland made some last June from Tobacco House Earth.
Mr. Randolph our venerable President, affirms to me that, every planter almost in that Colony, has made it from Tobacco House Earth. That the Proscess is so simple that a Child can make it. It consists in nothing but making a Lixivium from the Earth which is impregnated with it, and then evaporating the Lixivium. That there is certainly discovered in Virginia a vast Quantity of the Rocks of salt Petre. That these are salt Petre Rocks he says all Chemists and Naturalists who have written agree. And that he was informed by many Gentlemen in Virginia, cautious, incredulous Men, of strict Honour and Veracity, that they have been to see the Rocks and tryed them and found them, by Experiment to be the very Rock of salt Petre.2
The old Gentleman in short, who is not credulous nor enthusiastical but very steady, solid, and grave, is as sanguine and confident as you can conceive, that it is the Easiest Thing in the World to make it, and that the Tobacco Colonies alone are sufficient to supply the Continent forever.
Every Colony My Friend must set up Works at the public Expense.
I am determined never to have salt Petre out of my Mind but to insert Some stroke or other about it in every Letter for the future. It must be had.
RC (MHi:Warren-Adams Coll.); addressed: “Hon. James Warren Esqr Speaker of the House Watertown”; docketed: “Mr. J: A Lettr Octr. 21. 1775.”
1. Henry Wisner (1720–1790), a delegate to the congress and a member of the committee for promoting the making of saltpeter (JCC, 3:296; DAB).
2. On 26 Oct., because of the reported discovery of a mineral rich in saltpeter, the Virginia delegates were ordered to send an express to verify the discovery and bring back a sample (JCC, { 227 } 3:307). The express went to Charles Lynch of Bedford co., Va., who, in two letters of 20 Nov., promised to produce the mineral in quantity and described his discovery on the “north East Side of Reed Iseland River” (Jefferson, Papers, 1:261–264).
Cite web page as: Founding Families: Digital Editions of the Papers of the Winthrops and the Adamses, ed.C. James Taylor. Boston: Massachusetts Historical Society, 2014.
http://www.masshist.org/apde2/