Provisions Are Scarce

Henry Laurens
Library of Congress
Henry Laurens

During the early stages of the occupation, the price of food in Philadelphia became exorbitant, certainly way beyond the means of the poor. Horse meat was being sold on the streets. Most items of food were selling at several times the normal price. Watson in his "Annals of Philadelphia" reported that potatoes were selling at 16 shillings per bushel and beef 7 shillings 6 d. per pound. A single chicken at 10 shillings. Some vendors would accept payment in gold only. American Colonel Henry Laurens, writing on November 7, 1777 reported, "There have been several women from Philadelphia, within two days past, who have applied for leave to pass into the country, declaring that unless this indulgence is granted they must inevitably starve."

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Philadelphia Campaign 1777