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Suppliers to the Revolution

The overwhelming majority of the tiny colonial Jewish community supported the Revolutionary cause. Many became actively involved in the war, serving as soldiers, suppliers, and financiers. Jewish merchants Barnard and Michael Gratz became purveyors for the Continental Army.

Early in the war Michael Gratz and his brother were asked to supply blankets and woolen clothing to the Continental troops. Later they built and equipped ships and supplied ammunition and rifles. These two letters give a small glimpse of their activities.


A letter from Michael Gratz to his brother Bernard Gratz

Philadelphia, July 24, 1776

Barnard Gratz

My Dear Barnard:
. . . Our dear family are all at Lancaster, safe moored for six months, though may God send peace that we may be able to bring them down again here. . . . No doubt you will stay now till after the treaty with the Indians is over, which I hope will be before Rosh Hashono, so that you can be with us for the Holidays. . . .

Skins are as yet 2/8 and 2/9 per w. sunr. 3/8 and 3/9; beaver, 13/ to 15/; raccoon, 2/10 to 3/ per a.w. Shipping furs, otter 10/ to 12/6 cats, 1/6 to 2/ foxes, 3/6 fishers, 22d to 2/. . . .

The Major is in a hurry. I must conclude this time; and I remain, my Dear Barnard,

Your Ever-Affectionate Brother,
Michael Gratz


A letter from Joseph Simon, a manufacturer of rifles, to Bernard Gratz.

Lancaster, April 4 1777

Barnard Gratz

Dear Sir:

Colonel Atlee bespoke rifles from me for two companies when Colonel Tilonier was here. He said they must not be delivered until further orders. I have about 120 new rifles by me which I want to sell. The price is 6:10 pounds each. The Council of Safety paid me the same. I will be much obliged to you if you will speak to Mr. Peters or to some of the Delegates and acquaint them of the number of rifles I have to dispose of. . . .

Yours Sincerely,
Joseph Simon