WHEREAS the probability of a winter campaign hath rendered it indispensably necessary to furnish an immediate supply of clothing for the troops raised in this commonwealth and now in continental service, and the usual methods of supply may prove tedious and inadequate to the present emergency:
For remedy herein, Be it enacted by the General Assembly, That the governour, with the advice of the council of state, be, and he is hereby empowered to appoint commissioners, in every part of this commonwealth where he shall think it proper, who shall, and they, or any two of them, are hereby declared to have power and authority respectively to seize all linens, woollens, trimmings, tanned leather, hats, leather breeches, dressed deerskins, shoes, and stockings, proper for the use of the army, which may be found in the possession of any person or persons whatsoever, who hath purchased the same in any of the United States of America for sale; and if any person who may, on good grounds, be suspected by the said commissioners of having concealed any of the said articles in any storehouse, or other place, shall refuse to permit such commissioners to have free access thereto, the said commissioners are hereby empowered, in company with a justice of the peace, and by his order, to break open any locks or doors to enable them to discover whether any such articles are concealed; and where the said justice and commissioners shall meet with resistance in accomplishing this discovery, the said justice is hereby directed to call upon the sheriff, or any constable, for such aid of the county as shall be sufficient to enforce obedience to this act. The said commissioners shall be, and they are hereby required and empowered to appoint four honest and reputable housekeepers of the neighbourhood (of whom any three may act) who, having first taken an oath, to be administered by any one of the commissioners, faithfully and impartially to perform that service, shall appraise such goods in ready money, at a reasonable price.
The commissioners who shall have performed the service shall give a certificate in writing, after such valuation is made, to the holders of such goods respectively, distinguishing the particular species, quantity, and value thereof, with an order to be drawn on the treasurer of this commonwealth to pay the said appraised value to the holder, or his order, within one month after the date thereof, which orders the treasurer is hereby required and directed to pay. And in all cases where such goods shall be applied to the use of the troops in continental service, the same shall be charged to the account of the United American States. And the commissioners, or any two of them, may employ, or if necessary impress, so many workmen as they shall judge sufficient to make up into wearing apparel such clothing and leather. The wages of any workmen impressed, in case of disagreement between the parties, shall be settled in the same manner as the value of the materials seized; and orders for such wages, as well as what shall become due to the persons voluntarily employed, shall be drawn upon the treasurer, paid by him, and charged in manner aforesaid. If any workman impressed shall refuse, or, being a servant, his master shall not permit him to work, the servant or master so offending, upon complaint of the commissioners, or any two of them, may by a justice of the peace, be committed to prison until he shall comply.
The said commissioners shall by some safe conveyance, and in due time, transmit to the treasurer a list of the sums for which they shall have drawn orders, together with the names of the persons in whose favour they were drawn, for his more certain information.
And if any person shall be sued for doing any thing in execution of this act, the defendant may plead the general issue, and give this act in evidence; and if the plaintiff shall be non-suited, or a judgment pass against him upon a verdict or demurrer, the defendant shall recover double costs; and in all such suits the onus probandi shall lie upon the plaintiff. This act shall continue and be in force until the last day of February next.