I remember hearing rumors about “Salt Peter” while my son was in basic training, and it had nothing to do with gun powder.
SALTPETRE vs. ST. PETER.–Barnum is always ready with a good story. His latest is the following, which is told of Elias Howe, jr., who has been very active in fitting out regiments for the war. Mr. Howe has spent thousands of dollars in this way, and taken so great an interest in military affairs, that he has had but little time to attend to anything else. One day a very worthy Connecticut deacon called upon the gentleman with a subscription list. He wanted Mr. Howe to give something toward errecting a new church.
“A new church,” replied Howe, “ah! a new church. I don’t think I can give anything, because I am spending all my spare money for the war. I can think of nothing else.”
The deacon looked disappointed. At length Howe asked him what the new church was to be called.
“The Church of St. Peter, sir.”
“Ah! the Church of St. Peter,” replied Howe.
“Well, as St. Peter was the only fighting apostle in the lot, I guess I’ll have to give him something. But I can’t do much, even for St. Peter, as my time and money must be entirely devoted to saltpetre!”
Appleton Crescent (Appleton, Wisconsin) Mar 22, 1862
Saltpetre or saltpeter may refer to:
* Potassium nitrate, the critical oxidizing component of gun powder
* Sodium nitrate (“Chile saltpetre”), an ingredient in fertilizers, explosives and solid rocket propellants
* The Saltpeter War (1879-1884) between Chile, Peru and Bolivia