Oswald Eve owned the only functioning gun powder mill in the colonies in late 1775. It was located in Philadelphia. Importing powder from abroad was difficult, expensive and illegal, so the colonists were desperate for more gun powder. The Massachusetts Provincial Congress sent Paul Revere in November 1775 to request help from the Continental Congress to build another powder mill further north. Paul Revere met with Robert Morris and John Dickinson, who were both members of the Continental Congress, and they sent this letter to Mr. Eve requesting him to allow Mr. Revere to tour his mill and show him how to manufacture the powder. Mr. Eve complied with the request - partly. He let Paul Revere tour the plant but wouldn't tell him how to manufacture the powder because he wanted the business for himself. Paul Revere was already a metallurgist, chemist and mechanic though, and he learned enough just touring the mill to open a new powder mill at Canton, Massachusetts.
Philada. Novr. 21st 1775
I am requested by some Honorable Members of the Congress to recommend the bearer hereof Mr. Paul Revere to you. He is just arrived from New England where it is discovered they can manufacture a good deal of Salt Petre in Consequence of which they desire to Erect a Powder Mill & Mr. Revere has been pitched upon to gain instruction & Knowledge in this branch. A Powder Mill in New England cannot in the least degree affect your Manufacture nor be of any disadvantage to you. Therefore these Gentn & myself hope You will Chearfully & from Public Spirited Motives give Mr. Revere such information as will inable him to Conduct the bussiness on his return home. I shall be glad of any opportunity to approve myself.
Sir Your very Obed Servt. Robt Morris
P.S. Mr. Revere will desire to see the Construction of your Mill & I hope you will gratify him in that point.
Sir, I heartily join with Mr. Morris in his Request; and am with great Respect, Your very hble Servt. John Dickinson