Description

    Scarce Revolutionary Pamphlet Published on Order of the Second Continental Congress Dealing With the Manufacture of Gunpowder for the Cause of Independence. [Essays Upon the Making of Salt-Petre and Gun-Powder], [New York: Samuel London, 1776], this copy without title page, 39 pages, leaf C 6 (pages 35-36 included twice), text complete, bound in old half leather binding with marbled boards, marbled endpapers, 8vo (5.25" x 8.5"), significant scuffing to boards, corners and spine worn, the usual scattered light to moderate foxing, pages uniformly toned, heavy edge wear and small closed tear (within text) to the second copy of leaf C 6, tiny stab holes to inner margins and occasional small holes, else a very good copy in a custom quarter leather portfolio case with gilt titles on the spine.
    One of the chronic problems facing the colonies throughout most of the American Revolution was the shortage of ammunition. The situation was complicated in large part by the decentralization of government and the burden of each colony to acquire their own munitions. A prevailing ignorance of the manufacturing process of gunpowder led John Hancock, the president of the Second Continental Congress, to issue the pamphlet on offer. From the preface: "In Committee on Safety, During the Recess of the Provincial Congress, January 17th, 1776 - The wicked practices of a corrupt Administration, and their hostile attempts to compel an obedience to several acts of the British Parliament, evidently subversive of all the rights and privileges, which, as God's rational creatures, we are entitled to, and as Englishmen have inherited by laws of our country, have constrained the inhabitants of these colonies to take up arms in defense of their lives, liberties and property. The Ministry, flattering themselves, that so young a country, unused to manufactures of every kind, will not be able to procure the means of defense within itself, have made, and will undoubtedly continue to make it a principle object of their attention, to preclude us from foreign supplies of military stores. This Committee would therefore conceive themselves most culpably deficient, in the discharge of their important trust, as Guardian of public security, should they not do all in their power to promote the manufacture of those articles...To that end, the Committee have thought it necessary to publish the following essays upon the manufacture of Salt-petre [sic] and gunpowder...by order of the Committee of Safety, Pierre Van Cortlandt, Chairman."


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