Petition of Robert Adam for aid in establishing a manufactory of coarse linens and sailcloth

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Ordered, That Mr˙ George Mason be added to the Committee of Privileges and Elections, and to the Committee of Propositions and Grievances, and to the Committee appointed to prepare a Declaration of Rights, and such a form of Government as will be most likely to maintain peace and order in this Colony, and secure substantial and equal liberty to the people.

A Petition of Robert Adam was presented to the Convention, and read; setting forth that, notwithstanding the soil and climate of this country are peculiarly adapted to producing flax and hemp, there is a great scarcity of linen of all kinds, to the great distress of the people, which will be increased by the great demand and consumption of coarse linens and sail-cloth in the American armies and fleets, hitherto supplied in a precarious manner, and at an exorbitant price; that these evils are like to continue during our present contest and stagnation of trade, unless removed by the encouragement and patronage of the publick; that there

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are many families who, though capable of raising flax and hemp, are unacquainted with the different branches of dressing, spinning, and weaving, but would be induced to go largely into it, if, by the establishment of linen manufactories, they were certain of a market for their commodities, in their different states of perfection; that if the Church-Wardens were empowered to bind poor orphan children apprentices to such manufactories, it would not only be a means of spreading the knowledge of so useful a business, but employ numbers of poor people who now are, or may soon become, a charge to their respective Parishes; that he has formerly been accustomed to the linen manufactory, and is acquainted with the method of carrying it on in some parts of Great Britain, and will undertake to set up and carry on a linen manufactory with twenty looms, and a sufficient number of spinning-wheels, and other necessary implements and hands, to keep the said looms constantly at work, upon the country' s advancing him, on sufficient security for six years, without interest, a capital sum sufficient to carry on the said manufactory for one year, the money to be repaid in six equal annual payments, in coarse linen or sail-cloth by him manufactured, at such reasonable rates or prices as shall be stated by the Convention, or Commissioners appointed for that purpose, unless the said manufactory should happen to be destroyed by the enemy, in which case he should expect to be indemnified his actual loss; that he conceives the sum necessary to carry on the said manufactory for one year would amount to about £1,700, as may appear from the estimate thereof, to which he refers.

Ordered, That the said Petition be referred to the Committee appointed to prepare and bring in an Ordinance to encourage Woollen, Linen, and other Manufactories.

Ordered, That Mr˙ George Mason be added to the said Committee, and to the Committee appointed to prepare and bring in an Ordinance to encourage the making of Salt, Saltpetre, and Gunpowder.

Adjourned till Monday, ten o' clock.