George Washington Papers

From George Washington to the Baltimore Merchants and Traders, 27 May 1793

To the Baltimore Merchants and Traders

⟨Philad. May 27, 1793.⟩


At this eventful period when caution must be united with firmness to preserve to the United States the blessings of peace, & at the same time to maintain our rights as an independent nation, it affords me no small degree of satisfaction to find that my endeavours to promote these objects, by declaring the neutrality of the U. States, has met your approbation.1 While the measures of this Government are taken upon Constitutional ground, & have for their object the public good, it would be injurious to our enlightened Citizens not to rely upon their countenance & support in carrying them into effect.

George Washington.

LB, DLC:GW. The dateline is from the version published in the 5 June 1793 issue of the Daily Advertiser (Philadelphia).

1This letter is GW’s reply to a letter signed by 208 Maryland residents on 22 May that reads: “The merchants and traders of the Town of Baltimore as participators in the general prosperity resulting from peace, and the excellent laws and constitution of the United States, cannot be insensible, in the present crisis of things, to whatever might endanger an uninterrupted enjoyment of these great and visible blessings. Impressed with these sentiments they beg leave to express the high sense they entertain of the provident wisdom and watchfulness over the concerns and peace of a happy people, which you have so evidently and seasonably displayed in your late proclamation, declaring the neutrality to be observed by the United States in the war wherein several European nations are now engaged. Well convinced that the true interest of America consists in a conduct impartial, friendly and unoffending to all the belligerent powers, they would further assure you of their steady determination not only to pay the strictest regard to that proclamation themselves, but to discountenance the least departure from it in others, should any such instances occur within their knowledge, a resolution which they unfold the more confidently as believing it to accord with the general sentiment of their fellow citizens throughout Maryland” (DLC:GW). This letter came enclosed in a brief letter from Samuel Sterett to GW of 23 May (DLC:GW). Sterett (1758–1833), whose Baltimore-based mercantile companies had interests in the West Indies and Europe, represented Maryland in the U.S. House of Representatives 1791–93.

Tobias Lear enclosed GW’s reply in a letter to Samuel Sterett of 27 May 1793, which reads in part, “The Presidt of the U.S. directs me to acknowledge the receipt of your letter to him of the 23d inst. enclosing an Address from the Merchants & Traders of the Town of Baltimore, and to transmit to you the enclosed Answer to that address, with a request that you will communicate the same to the Merchants & Traders of Baltimore” (Copy, DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters; LB, DLC:GW).

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