Revolutionary War

Albany Committee of Correspondence Orders Delivery of Salt in 1777

Albany Committee of Correspondence Orders Delivery of Salt

 

ALBANY COMMITTEE OF CORRESPONDENCE, John Williams, Manuscript Document Signed as Chairman, December 8, 1777, Albany, New York. 1 p., 8.25" x 4.5"

 

Complete Transcript

                                                                        Albany Committee Chamber 8th Decr 1777

Sir

            Please to deliver to Jacob Cuyler Esqe or Order Two of the largest Hogsheads of Salt belonging to this County

                                                                        By order of the Committee

                                                                        John Williams  Chairman

To Peter R. Livingston Esqe

 

Historical Background

The Albany Committee of Correspondence, Safety, and Protection was formed over the winter of 1774-1775 to mobilize local opposition to the Intolerable Acts passed by Parliament. Within a year, it took over local government for an increasingly inadequate Albany Corporation, which had governed the city since 1686. Although based in the city of Albany, over the next two and a half years, the Albany Committee extended its authority and influence throughout Albany County.

 

On November 3, 1777, the Albany Committee requested Peter R. Livingston to transport 1700 bushels of salt from Major Jansen’s and Philip Spencer’s (except about 150 bushels retained for use of “Manor Livingston, Claverack and the German Camp”) to Col. Robert Livingston’s landing. On December 6, the Committee agreed to “consider the Ways & Means to procure a Quantity of Salt for the use of the Inhabitants of this County.” On December 7, the committee authorized the payment of £162..12 to Peter R. Livingston for transporting the salt “allotted to this County” to the landing of his father Robert Livingston. On December 8, the Committee resolved “That Mr Peter R. Livingston be requested to deliver to Jacob Cuyler Esqr Two of the largest Hogsheads of Salt, he having engaged to deliver the like Quantity to this Board at the first Slaying.” This order conveyed the direction of the Committee to Livingston to deliver two hogsheads to Committee member Cuyler.

 

Salt is a vital commodity for preserving meat and for feeding livestock. In the eighteenth century, many colonies, especially in the South, imported most of their salt from Great Britain. At the beginning of the war, the British navy blockaded American ports, virtually cutting off the supply of imported salt. During the war, British forces encouraged Loyalist raiders to intercept Patriot salt shipments and destroy salt works to interfere with the Patriots’ ability to preserve food. Benjamin Franklin even made a secret deal with Bermuda to supply this vital commodity to the American forces. After the war, the discovery of major salt deposits near Syracuse provided one of the main reasons for the construction of the Erie Canal.

 

 

John Williams (1719-c. 1779) was born and grew up in Albany and in 1744, he married Cornelia Bogardus (1719-1787) at the Albany Dutch church. He served as firemaster and belonged to the city’s militia company. In 1the 1760s, he was a barber, and in 1769, he was elected assistant alderman for the first ward. In 1776 and 1777, he was elected to the Albany Committee of Correspondence for the first ward and sometimes served as deputy chairman.

 

Peter Robert Livingston (1737-1793) was the second son of Robert Livingston (1708-1790), the third and final Lord of Livingston Manor. Peter Livingston attended both Harvard and the College of New Jersey (Princeton), but left college in 1758 to begin a mercantile career. For a time, he acted as his father’s New York agent. His plans to get rich quick and his extravagant lifestyle led him into bankruptcy by 1771, and his father had to pay his debts to preserve the family’s honor.

 

Jacob J. Cuyler (1741-1804) was born in Albany and married Lydia Van Vechten (1743-1808) in 1764. He became a merchant and silversmith and served as firemaster, contractor, and manager of the lottery. In 1766, he joined the Albany Sons of Liberty. He represented the second ward in the Albany Committee of Correspondence from 1774 to 1778. He also served as an Albany delegate to the New York Provincial Congress.

 

 

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