Papers of John Adams, volume 4

From William Cushing

George Washington to the Board of War

From Henry Knox, 29 July 1776 Knox, Henry JA


From Henry Knox, 29 July 1776 Knox, Henry Adams, John
From Henry Knox
Sir N York July 29 1776

Mr. Paine has done me the honor to write to me on the subject of casting cannon, in consequence of which Mr. Byers a Cannon founder from this place has proceeded to Philadelphia.1 I take the liberty to beg he may be set to work immediately and if upon a large scale the advantages must be proportionate. As every hint to a Gentleman in Acting in your important Station may be attended with good consequences, I also take the liberty of mentioning the Importance of the working the Copper mine in the Jersies.2 The members of Congress from that Province can without doubt give you some good information Respecting it. I am informd if the works were repaird 100 tons a Year might be gotten from it. If so it is of infinite consequence that it should be look'd into. I hope the importance of the Affair will be a sufficient excuse for my troubling you with it.3 Wishing you every blessing in life I am with the utmost Respect, Your Most ObDt Hble Servant

Henry Knox

RC (Adams Papers); addressed: “Honble John Adams Esqr Philadelphia”; stamped: “N*York, July 29 FREE”; docketed: “Knox July 29. 1776.”


In his capacity as member of a cannon committee, Robert Treat Paine had written to Knox on 16 July, informing him that the congress would probably employ James Byers for casting brass cannon (Burnett, ed., Letters of Members , 2:12 and notes there).


The richest copper deposits in New Jersey were found about 1719 in the town of Hanover, Hudson co., where the Schuyler mine was established. This and one near Bound Brook were worked in the Revolutionary period. Mines near New Brunswick and Somerville were worked during the colonial period but abandoned because of labor costs (J. Leander Bishop, A History of American Manufactures from 1608 to 1860, 2 vols., Phila., 1864, 1:546–548).


JA replied on 13 Aug. (LbC, Adams Papers, not printed), assuring Knox that the cannon committee would take advantage of New Jersey copper. JA also offered to send Knox directions for making fireships. On this subject, see JA to James Warren, 9 June, note 2 (above).