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Robert Treat Paine Papers, Volume 3

From Thomas Cushing
Cushing, Thomas RTP
Watertown Feby. 29. 1776 Dear Sir,

I have received your Favor of the 12 Instant1 by Colo. Bull2 & observe the Contents. I am sinsible attempts were made to dismiss you 170as a Delegate. I could never learn the particular objections that were urged against you. The ostensible reason was that it was best to make some alteration annually at least of two of the members; with respect to me, they urged, I should be wanted in the County of Suffolk & that my presence there could not be dispensed with; with respect to you It was said you was appointed a judge of the Superior Court & it was necessary you should be in the province; however with respect to both of us there were, as I am Informed, some low dirty arts made use of privately with some of the new members insinuating that we were timid cautious irresolute & so not fit to answer their purpose in the present day. However I have endeavoured to vindicate your Character & have said what I thought was just & proper with respect to your Conduct at the Congress, & you may depend upon the Continuance of my Freindship.

I am glad to hear that 60 Tons more of saltpetre togather with 13 Tons of Powder & 1300 Stands of Arms are arrived at the Southward, That the old Powder Mills are Enlarging & new one erecting. I can Inform you with Pleasure that salt petre is making very fast thro’ the Government, That they make at Newbury Port abt. fifty weight a Day, how much they have made in the whole I cannot say exactly. I am informed the Commissary has already received in abt. 12 hundred pounds and I am Informed there is About one Thousand weight at Newbury Port. The Court have appoint Persons to receive it & pay the Bounty upon it & it is coming in every day. We have in Province Two or Three Tons of Sulphur & have sent a number of Vessells to the West indies for Powder Salt petre & Sulphur. I wrote you with respect to Powder Mills in my last. One is Erecting at Andover & another at Stoughton & the Court have offered Premiums for the Erection of two more. The Gunsmiths are continually either mending or making Guns. As to Cannon I shall inform you in my next, & should be glad you would give me your opinion upon this Subject, particularly as to the form of them as you have paid some attention to this matter. Pray write me particularly what you have been about at Congress since I left you, what sentiments about the times at present prevail among the members. Let me know every thing that passes at Congress that you Can consistent with your Trust. A motion has been made at the Board that a Committee might be appointed to prepare & report a Petition to Congress praying liberty to take up and Exercise such form of Government as may be judged most Condusive to the People’s Good under the present embarrassed Circumstances. The reason given for this 171application was that the Congress have given free Liberty to several of the united Colonies to take up & exercise such forms of Government as they may judge proper, & that it was but just we should be indulged with the same Liberty—but this motion did not obtain, a great majority being against it. Pray give me your opinion how such an application would have been relished by the members of Congress & whether it is probable Liberty would have been granted. Keep This to yourself.

It is the opinion of many here that a Test act is very much wanted, that so the freinds of the American Cause may be properly distinguished from those who are Enemies. It certainly best the Congress should take up this matter & draw the proper line. Pray have the Congress done any thing about this matter or is it probable they soon will. Let me known immediately. I took care as soon as I arrived at Watertown to Enquire for an opportunity to convey your Letter directed to Dr. Cob to Taunton. I soon mett with Mr. Durfy,3 an honest & as I thought, a carefull man, who told me he was going directly to Taunton. To him I immediately deliver’d the Letter & thought he had safely delivered it. I suppose he forgot it, but I have since heard it has been received by Mr. Cobb. The Courts are open, but by a late resolve of the Assembly no Judgements are to be made up until the first of april, by which time it supposed is intended the new fee Bill shall be passed. The fees I imagine will be low Enough. It is not intended the Superior Judges shall be allowed any fees. They must depend upon what salleries may be granted for their support. I remain Your Friend & hume. Sert.

Thomas Cushing

RC ; addressed: “To The Honble. Robert Treat Paine Esqr. Member of the Continental Congress at Philadelphia. Free”; endorsed.


Not located.


John Bull (1730–1824), who had resigned as colonel of the First Pennsylvania Battalion on Jan. 22, was en route to deliver funds from Congress to General Washington in Cambridge (Letters of Delegates to Congress, 3:216–217).


Perhaps Thomas Durfee, the Freetown representative to the General Court. See below, Thomas Cushing to RTP, Mar. 18, 1776.