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With this unrestricted commission, and excited by the strong necessity there was to execute the charge with success, Mr. Gerry undertook to procure this essential article. Besides his own personal exertions, which were unremitted and indefatigable, he did not hesitate in many cases to advance his own funds where immediate payment was required, and to incur responsibilities on his own credit, which the province was then unable to redeem. In the progress of the war the evidence of many of these payments were lost or mislaid, and their final settlement was attended with heavy pecuniary loss.
Correspondence on the state of the Province with the Delegates in
Congress at Philadelphia.
The means that were taken to procure the essential articles of war show not only the deplorable deficiency of the provincial store-houses, but the ignorance, which prevailed, as to every thing relating to the manufacture of gunpowder.
MR. GERRY TO THE MASSACHUSETTS DELEGATES
IN CONGRESS, AT PHILADELPHIA.
WATERTOWN, JUNE 4, 1775, GENTLEMEN, A public express for your honourable body gives me opportunity to hand you information of the affairs of this province. From the confusion, in which the engagement at Lexington threw the people, they are now beginning to recover, and I hope by the speedy assistance of some form of government that the measures, which will be necessary for defence, will not only be practicable, but executed here with success. The spirit of the people is equal to our wishes, and if they continue as they began, it will be as familiar to fight
as to pursue the dangers of the ocean.
We want assistance by ammunition and money.
A full supply of these would render lord North and his myrmidons as harmless as they are infamous. We have stripped the seaports of canvass to make tents; and it is of great importance to possess ourselves of about five hundred pieces of ravens duck to keep the soldiers in health. I should be glad if the bearer could obtain it on the credit of our vote, as we want all our specie to send out of the government for other purposes; but I am doubtful whether you can assist us in this matter although very important, as the great objects of your attention must take up your whole time.
Government is so essential that it cannot be too soon adopted ; and although no argument can be necessary to convince you of so plain a truth, yet it may not be amiss to hint a matter which can only be discovered by being where it has taken place. The people are fully possessed of their dignity from the frequent delineation of their rights, which have been published to defeat the ministerial
party in their attempt to impress them with high notions of government. They now feel rather too much their own importance, and it requires great skill to produce such subordination as is necessary. This takes place principally in the army; they have affected to hold the military too high, but the civil must be first supported, and unless an established form of government is pro
vided it will be productive of injury. Every day's delay will make the task more arduous.
We want also a regular general to assist us in disciplining the army, which in twelve months' time, and perhaps less, by frequent skirmishes may be brought to stand against any troops, however formidable they may be, with the sounding names of Welsh fusileers, grenadiers, &c. And although the pride of our people would prevent their submitting to be led by any general not an American, yet I cannot but think that general Lee might be so established as to render great service by his presence and councils with our officers. I should heartily rejoice to see this way the beloved colonel Washington, and do not doubt the NewEngland generals would acquiesce in showing to our sister colony Virginia, the respect, which she has before experienced from the continent, in making him generalissimo.
This is a matter in which Dr. Warren agrees with me, and we had intended to write you jointly on the affair.
The letter from our joint committees and the generals to the congress will come before
and nothing further is necessary on this head. I remain, gentlemen, with great respect, Your obedient servant,
To the honourable members of the continental
congress from Massachusetts Bay.
MR. PAINE, MEMBER OF THE CONTINENTAL CON
GRESS, TO MR. GERRY.
PHILADELPHIA, JUNE 10, 1775. MY VERY DEAR SIR, I cannot express to you the surprise and uneasiness I received on hearing the congress express respecting the want of gunpowder ; it always was a matter that lay heavy on my mind; but the observation I made of your attention to it, and your alertness and perseverance in every thing you undertake, and your repeatedly expressing it as your opinion that we had probably enough for this summer's campaign, made me quite easy. I rely upon it, that measures are taken in your parts of the continent to supply this defect. The design of your express will be zealously attended to I think. I have seen one of the powder mills here, where they make excellent powder, but have worked up all the nitre; one of our members is concerned in a powder mill at New-York, and has a man at work making nitre. I have taken pains to enquire into the method. Dr. Franklin has seen salt-petre works at Hanover and Paris; and it strikes me to be as unnecessary after a certain time to send abroad for gunpowder as for bread, provided people will make use of common understanding and industry; but for the present we