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Robert Alexander to Maryland Council of Safety



Philadelphia, February 27, 1776.

GENTLEMEN: Your letter, by the post, is received. On your application to Congress, they have ordered twenty-two thousand dollars, equal to eight thousand two hundred and fifty pounds, to be advanced. This money I shall receive, and transmit you by the first safe conveyance.

The cartridge paper I have purchased; twenty-five reams, part of the quantity, shall be sent off by the stage this week; the remainder will follow next week, and I shall then furnish you with the account; the price is sixteen shillings by the ream.

I called on Mr˙ Morris to know the quantity of arms and powder, imported by him for the Province. He was from home; his clerk informed me, about four hundred stand of arms, and three thousand five hundred pounds of cannon powder. I have directed a gentleman of Maryland, now in this city, to receive them, and to forward them by the stages to Elk, from thence, to send them in a boat to Back-River, in Baltimore County, with orders for the skipper of the boat to proceed to Baltimore Town, and there take directions in what manner to land them. I have taken this precaution to avoid all danger; for should any tender or armed vessel be cruising in Patapsco-River, the boat can proceed to the head of Back-River, and land the arms and powder within five miles of the town; if no vessel of the enemy, she can run round without any great expense incurred by the delay.

Last night a ship arrived here from Bristol, which she left the 17th of December. She cleared out for Cork to avoid suspicion; notwithstanding which, she was strictly searched, and a letter being discovered, directed to a merchant in Philadelphia, the ship was detained, but the letter being merely on private business, the Captain, on his petition, was discharged, and permitted to sail. Some newspapers, and private letters, are brought in; they were


stored away by a messenger in the bottom of a barrel of bread, which being placed in a careless manner, as if for the ship' s use, it escaped the search. One of the letters was directed to Willing & Morris, without any signature; it contained a printed copy of my Lord North' s Conciliatory Act, by which all American vessels found on the coast of Great Britain or Ireland, are to be seized and confiscated on the 1st day of January. All American vessels sailing into, or out of the ports of America, after the 1st of March, are to be seized and confiscated; all foreign vessels trading to America after the 1st of June, to be seized; all communication between Great Britain or Ireland, or the British West-Indies, with America, to be cut off; all captures made by British ships-of-war, or by the officers of the King' s troops in America, adjudged by this act, to be lawful prizes; and as such, Courts of Admiralty to proceed in their condemnation. All orders for the regulation of Courts of Admiralty in America, heretofore made by the King in Council, or which may hereafter be made, are confirmed. The Boston Port Bill, the Fishing Bill, and the Restraining Act, are repealed by this bill; the Colonies being in the like circumstances and situation. The last clause of this more than diabolical act enables the King to appoint Commissioners to grant pardons, and receive the submissions of any Province, County, Town, or District. I shall make no comments on this act; it is only a further stay in that system of tyranny hitherto pursued by that —, who, under the influence of a Scotch Junto, now disgraces the British Throne.

What measures Congress may pursue in consequence of this act, I know not. With me, every idea of reconciliation is precluded by the conduct of Great Britain; and the only alternative, absolute slavery or independency; the latter I have often reprobated, both in publick and private, but am now almost convinced the measure is right, and can be justified by necessity.

The gentleman who enclosed the bill to W˙ & M˙, writes, that about twenty-six thousand troops are to be employed in America; that a sufficient body of men are to defend Boston, while different bodies are to attack New York, Virginia, and South Carolina; that Lord Cornwallis is destined for the last place, with five thousand men, and was to sail in January. The gentleman adds, the minority gains ground, that some of the Bedford party had deserted, —; that the Scotch faction, headed by Sir G˙ Elliot, ostensibly, and by Lords Bute and Mansfield, privately, directed and influence the councils and measures of the Court.

I make no doubt you have heard Mr˙ Chase is ordered to Canada. He sets off in a few days. Mr˙ Rogers has leave of absence; should he leave Congress, Maryland will be without representation. I mention this to show the necessity of your requesting Messrs˙ Johnson and Stone to attend. I wrote Mr˙ Tilghman, but have not any answer. Although my private business requires my presence in Maryland, I shall not leave this city until a sufficient number of my brethren arrive.

I am, with respect, gentlemen, your very humble servant,

To the Council of Safety of Maryland.