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Robert Treat Paine Papers, Volume 3

Extract from the Minutes of the Continental Congress
Continental Congress
Friday, February 23, 1776

Resolved, That a committee of five be appointed to contract for the making of muskets and bayonets for the use of the United Colonies, and to consider of further ways and means of promoting and encouraging the manufacture of fire arms in all parts of the United Colonies.

The members chosen, Mr. Paine, Mr. Wilson, Mr. Huntington, Mr. Lee,1 and Mr. L Morris. . . .

Resolved, 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 further ways and means of promoting and encouraging the 164manufacture of salt petre, and of introducing that manufacture into private families.

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:

That it be recommended to the assemblies, conventions, or councils, or committees 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:

That a committee of this Congress, to consist of one member from each colony, be appointed to consider of further 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 of 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.

The members chosen, Mr. Bartlett,3 Mr. Paine, Mr. Hopkins, Mr. Huntington, Mr. L Morris, Mr. Sergeant,4 Mr. Humphreys, Mr. Read,5 Mr. Paca, Mr. Braxton,6 Mr. Hewes, Mr. E Rutledge, and Mr. Bullock.7

Ordered, That the above resolutions respecting salt petre, &c. be published.

Printed in Journals of the Continental Congress, 4:169, 170–171.


Probably Richard Henry Lee.


Printed in the Pennsylvania Gazette, Mar. 6, 1776, with a notice from the committee:

IN pursuance of the above Resolve, the said Committee here notify all persons who are disposed to contract for the making Muskets and Bayonets, that they make known their proposal as soon as possible to them at Philadelphia, or to the Assemblies, Conventions, or Committees of Safety in the Colonies where they live, in order to be transmitted to the said Committee. R. T. PAINE, per Order.


Josiah Bartlett (1729–1795) trained as a physician but left his practice in 1765 to enter politics. He served in the New Hampshire provincial congress, 1774–1776, and was elected to the Executive Council in 1776. Beginning in September 1775 Bartlett represented New Hampshire in the Continental Congress as a strong voice for independence. He was among the signers of the Declaration. After the war Bartlett served on the state’s superior court (1782–1790) and as chief executive, later governor (1790–1794) ( ANB ).


Jonathan Dickinson Sergeant (1746–1793) graduated from the College of New Jersey in 1762 and was admitted to the bar in 1767. He was an active member of the New Jersey Provincial Con­165gress, 1774–1776, and represented that state in the Continental Congress (Feb. 14–June 22, 1776, and Nov. 30, 1776–Sept. 6, 1777). He resigned to become attorney general of Pennsylvania ( DAB ).


George Read (1733–1798) was attorney general for lower Delaware from 1763 until 1774 when he went to the Continental Congress, where he served until 1777. A moderate Whig, he voted against independence but did sign the Declaration which he afterwards supported. He returned to state politics, was influential in Delaware becoming the first to ratify the U.S. Constitution, and served as federal senator from 1789 to 1793. For the last five years of his life Read was chief justice of Delaware ( DAB ).


Carter Braxton (1736–1797), a Virginia landowner and public official, took his seat in Congress on Feb. 23, 1776. He served only until August but supported independence and signed the Declaration. Braxton returned to Virginia, where he resumed his political life as a member of the new House of Delegates despite facing heavy wartime financial losses ( ANB ).


Archibald Bulloch (1730–1777) was a lawyer from Georgia, where he served as speaker of the assembly in the early 1770s and later as president of the provincial congress. Bulloch served in the Second Continental Congress, the first in which Georgia was represented. On Feb 11, 1776, Bulloch was elected as president and commander in chief of Georgia, under the “Rules and Regulations,” a preliminary constitution that went into effect on May 1 ( ANB ).