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Challenge #3 - Gunpowder and shipblast in Newportia Colony

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12 September, 1769

Dear Newportian Colonists,

Word of your tragedy has reached us this morning with the "Friendship" bringing us a copy of this newsletter from Newportia.


26 August, 1769
The long-awaited "Sophia" (310 tons) bringing supplies to Pennsylvania has been extensively damaged. It appears that a passerby on the docks was not aware that gunpowder was slowly leaking from his flask as he was walking. A trail of the gunpowder led up to and onto the newly arrived "Sophia."

The ship, which had recently arrived from Massachusetts Bay in the intercoastal trade, was in the process of being unloaded and re-loaded. Newortians have long been anticipating these goods. Local merchants have been low on many basic items. Due to the recent ocean storms, not many ships have reached the Newportia area.

When the disaster hit, many barrels of outgoing goods being shipped by Newportian colonists for trade in other ports had already been loaded from the dock after being moved from storage in nearby warehouses. At the scene, artisans interviewed whose goods were damaged were concerned about how this tragedy would affect their lives.

It appears that a gentleman disembarking the ship was not aware of the gunpowder danger. When he lit his tobacco pipe, a spark ignited the gunpowder. The flames followed a path up the gangplank of the ship. There were a few small explosions as the gunpowder ignited some of the cargo.

Damage to the incoming goods that were in the cargo area included whale oil, spermateceti candles, Crown glass, rum, cider, iron ware, salt, sugar, Spanish wine and fruits, canvas, worsted, dress goods, Persian silks, lead, shot, iron in bars, spices, and tea. The merchants are evaluating which goods are still available for sale.

A few emigrants to Pennsylvania were hurt during the incident. Two relatives of Newportian colonists about to settle in the colony lost all of their possessions. The ship was severely damaged by the blast and fire but did not sink.

We ask for news of our relatives living in Newportia. We empathize with your situation. We want to reassure you that we will do anything you ask of us to help out.

The Townspeople of Boston

Solution #3 - Gunpowder and shipblast in Newportia Colony

Our Friends at Massachusetts Bay Colony,

Once again your kind concern is appreciated in regards to the recent tragedy in Newportia. Our long-awaited ship the Sophia was extensively damaged and as a result, has indeed presented many challenges and problems for Newportians to solve. At a recent town meeting we evaluated the seriousness of the situation and the following is the result:

First, local merchants lost long-awaited supplied in the blast and are already low on supplies due to many recent storms. Newportians have been asked to ration such supplies as whale oil, spermateceti candles using light at night only in emergencies. Supplies such as rum, cider, fruit, tea, salt, spices, and sugar will be rationed also. While we have considered asking the King for help, other supplies such as the canvas, worsted, dress goods, lead, shot, iron in bars we humbly ask if Massachusetts Bay Colony could spare some and send them on the next ship out of Boston to Newportia. Luxury items such as Spanish wine and Persian silks will simply have to wait until later shipments arrive, as they are not necessary for life at Newportia to continue.

The ship was severely damaged in the blast, but not beyond repair. Many Newportians have volunteered to help rebuild and repair the damaged parts of the Sophia. It was agreed that colonists would all pitch in and every able bodied man would assist in gathering wood and supplies to rebuild the ship.

Those who are not physically able to work have been asked to contribute money. We estimate that the repairs may take up to two months and would like to request of your merchant ship owner, if he can spare a ship for trade routes in and out of Newportia until our ship is able to be seabound once again.

The dock was also severely burned and damaged. It was determined that many of the partially burned ship timbers could be salvaged, shortened and used in rebuilding the dock, as well as using some new lumber. Dan Hudson, Elizabeth Smith, Brontz Bach, Bob Magee, Francis Drake, Peter Kohl, Jack Drake, Eric Shontal, John Farmhand, Irish Moriarty, George Berkens, and Rose Laurent all volunteered to seek out, cut down trees, and make new boards.

Wealthier colonists, Marie Birdneau, Francis Drake, Marian Blue, Long John, Zergen Monzer and Gabielle Francis have agreed to help pay for supplies while the other contribute the labor to repair the dock as quickly as possible so Newportian can receive incoming ships with supplies. The man found guilty of starting the fire has been given a considerable fine to pay which will also help finance repairs.

Goods being shipped out of Newportia were also lost and damaged in the fire. This will put a financial strain on the citizens of Newportia. Citizens Elizabeth Smith, Geroge Berkens, Hans Fraas, Peter Kohl, Marie Birdneau, Peter Germany, Francis Drake, Dan Hudson, Erick Shontal, Brontz Bach, Gabrielle Francis, and Geroge Berkens have volunteered to either go out and hunt to provide more food for the colony, or share and donate stored food and supplies to others in need. If Massachusetts Bay Colony could loan us a merchant ship while our ship is being rebuilt, and commit to purchasing goods from Newportia, it would greatly assist us and help us to recover from our losses.

It was determined that the gentleman with the gunpowder flask did indeed have a faulty flask. Our cooper, Long John; blacksmith, Bronz Bach; gunsmith, Zergen Monzer: and frontiersman Jack Peter have agreed to work together to design a better flask and will inspect all flasks in the future to prevent such a tragedy from re-occurring.

The safety issue was also addressed and Newportians passed a law that no smoking would be permitted on the docks or ships. Guards would be stationed near the gunpowder barrels whenever docked at port. Barrel maker Erick Shontal is currently working on a design for more tightly sealed barrels. A safety committee consisting of John Farmhand, Dan Hudson, Bronz Bach, Yo Ha Merlissa, and Hans Fraas, has been appointed to review other potential safety problems.

Relatives of Newportians who were immigrating to the colonies were injured and lost all their possessions in the blast. Newportians have again pitched in and contributed necessary items. Tailor Hans Fraas, wigmaker Pierre S. Cargot, and dressmaker, Gabrielle Francis have volunteered to make clothing for the immigrants. The doctor was called to attend to their injuries and Marian Blue, George Berkens, and Peter Kohl assisted in caring for the wounded.

While the honorable citizens of Newportia have agreed to work together to solve the problems as the result of this terrible accident. After all the recent taxes, find themselves unable to finance all the necessary repairs.

We have already scraped together all that we can from our citizens. We will also request of the King to allow England to purchase colonial goods and allow us to make necessary items here. We would be eternally grateful if Massachusetts Bay Colony could find it in their hearts to loan Newportia some money so that repairs can be made in a timely manner. Once we are able to resume our shipping and trade, we are confident of our ability to repay the loan.

We have indeed been challenged by recent events in Newportia, but trust in the Lord that our needs will be met. Your offer to help us out is greatly appreciated and we pray you will be able to fulfil our requests for assistance.

May you be blessed for your kindness.

The Honorable Citizens of Newportia Colony

Declaration of Independence

As time goes on, sometimes it becomes necessary that people must part from their ruling countries. It is our time to do that. We the people of Newportia, Massachusetts Bay, and the colonies of the Americas are hereby parting from England this Fourth of July Seventeen Seventy-Six. We believe it is only right to explain our reasons why.

We believe that all people have certain rights that we cannot give up or have taken away. Everyone has the right to life, freedom, and the pursuit of happiness. Other rights we believe in are the right to vote, be represented, and to make decisions affecting the colonies; the right to maintain our own households without the presence of soldiers; the right to free speech; to govern ourselves; the right to freely trade, make, and sell our own goods. We believe in the freedom of religion; and the right to declare war, independence, and act as an independent nation.

The King has taxed us with many taxes. Colonists have had no representation and no say in decisions affecting our lives. He has forced us to house and take care of British solders. He has caused us many difficulties with his mandates and destroyed the quality of life in our homes and villages. At this time he is preparing to send foreign troops into our land and homes.

We have tried to correct these wrongs peacefully, but our petitions have been ignored. We are willing to fight and die for our freedom. We cannot let this go on. We, the colonists of Newportia, Massachusetts Bay, and all who are to be the United Colonies in America say this: The colonists of America are hereby naming the colonies a nation, independent and free from all laws and taxes forced by the British King. Our nation is now released from the King. We intend to have our own rules and rights. We are hereby intend to from the United States of America.

And, for the support of this declaration, we rely on God, and pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor.

Citizens of Newportia:

Dan Hudson - - - Jack Peter - - - Brontz Bach - - - Gabrielle Francis
Estela Pere - - - John Fareman - - - Francis Drake - - - Zergen Monzer
Yo Ha Merlisa - - - Bob Magee Jr. - - - Elizabeth Smith - - - Scotty O'Hara
Hans Fraas - - - Rose Laurent - - - George Berkens - - - Long John
Erick Shontal - - - Peter Germany - - - Eunice Smith - - - Marion Blue
Jack Drack - - - Marie Birdneau - - - Peter Kohl - - - Martin Smith Jay Jr.
Banja Leon - - - Pierre S. Cargo - - - Irish Moriarty - - - Angela Patchry

Citizens of Massachusetts Bay:

Justice May - - - Rebecca Golds - - - Philis May - - - Christopher Jacobs
Sharon Brown - - - Antonia Richard - - - Carnell Johnson - - - Elizabeth Withly
Tiffany Jones - - - Bernadete Howsly - - - Toni Ausborn - - - Debbie Redwich
John Mitchelle - - - Seymour Hanks - - - Sarah Redwood - - - Samuel Knok
Sarah Waikfield - - - Amos Webster

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