Gateway to the Classics: Stephen of Philadelphia by James Otis
Stephen of Philadelphia by  James Otis

Buying Iron in New York City

But for the fact that it was not easy to get iron, we would have believed ourselves in a fair way to become rich. Before we had been running our nail factory a month, the supply of raw material gave out entirely, and for a time it looked as if we would be forced to remain idle until more metal could be brought from England.

Strange as it may seem, it was through William Penn that we were able to keep our factory running. He had let it be known that it was his purpose to visit New York city with the intention of conferring with the governor of that colony, and the ship Ranger was made ready to convey him.

Now it so happened that one of the seamen belonging to the ship was an old friend of ours, he having been on board the John and Sarah when we came over from England. One day, just before the Ranger sailed, he heard us bewailing our ill fortune in not having a plentiful supply of iron, and proposed that he buy for us in New York as much as we could pay for in gold or silver coin.


And he kept his word, for when our governor returned from his visiting, we had iron bars enough to keep us busy at the forge a good three months, and you may be certain we did not spend any idle time, for it stood us in hand to work to the utmost of our strength while there was a possibility of selling all we could make.

I am not trying to make it appear that Jethro and I were so in love with hard work that it pleased us to stand at the forge, in stormy weather as well as pleasant, instead of going here or there with other lads in search of sport; but it seemed to us that we could better take our pleasure after the town was built, and in the meantime be making a little money.

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