From the Baltimore Mechanical Society
Baltimore 4th June 1793.
Having our hopes and expectations principally fixed on the National Government for Protection, and encouragement in our various pursuits; and being sensible that our happiness and prosperity in a great measure depend on the continuance of Peace and our being in a State of Amity with the European Nations now engaged in War.
We beg leave in addition to what others of our fellow Citizens of this Town, have presented, to express the high sense we entertain, of the Wisdom and goodness which dictated your late Declaration of the disposition of the Government to observe a strict Neutrality towards the Belligerent Powers who are now desolating the finest Countries of Europe.1 Our Country lately experienced all the miseries of a desolating and cruel War but by the interposition of a kind Providence, the Americans were enabled under your wise direction, and patriotic exertions during their arduous struggle, to secure the invaluable blessings they now enjoy. Being thus exalted to the possession of Civil and Religious Liberty, and enjoying the benefits of a free and equal Government: we cannot divest ourselves of sympathy for all, who struggle for the same blessings. But the miseries of War we deprecate, and circumstanced as our Country and Government are; the generous French will acquiesce with the American Citizens, in the acknowledgment of that Political truth, which you have wisely enjoined “That the duty and Interest of the United States require that we should with Sincerity and good Faith, adopt and pursue a Conduct Friendly and impartial towards the belligerant Powers” this conduct we do for ourselve adopt and mean to pursue, and we are persuaded it will be the conduct of all our good and virtuous Citizens. Peace will thus be preserved, the true Interest of our Country promoted, Happiness extended, and an asylum secured to the oppressed of every Nation and Country.2 Signed by order of the Society at their Stated quarterly meeting
Adam Fonerden. President of the Society3Attest Charles Peale Polk Secty
DS, in Adam Fonerden’s writing, DLC:GW; LB, DLC:GW.
The Mechanical Society, later known as the Mechanical Fire Company, was organized in 1763 and was the first fire company established in Baltimore. Incorporated by the state assembly in 1828, it continued its fire-fighting operations until 1859, when a paid fire department assumed its duties. The company, however, continued to meet as a social and civic organization until 1873, when it surrendered its charter (Scharf, History of Baltimore City and County description begins J. Thomas Scharf. History of Baltimore City and County. 1881. New ed., 2 vols. Baltimore, 1971. description ends , 1:244–45; see also McCreary, Mechanical Company description begins George W. McCreary, The Ancient and Honorable Mechanical Company, of Baltimore. Baltimore, 1901. description ends ).
1. GW had received approval of the Neutrality Proclamation of 22 April 1793 in an address from the Baltimore Merchants and Traders of 22 May 1793.
2. GW’s reply of c.11 June reads: “The language of your Address shews that you have rightly estimated the purposes for which our general Government was established. And so evident are the benefits resulting to the industrious Citizens of every description throughout the United States from the operation of equal Laws, & from the security & tranquility with which they have pursued, their various avocations, under a Government of their own choice, that it becomes the duty of those who are entrusted with the management of their public affairs, to endeavour, by all proper means, to continue and promote those invaluable blessings: And that the happiness & true interests of a people are best secured by observing such a line of conduct as will, while they discharge their political obligations, preserve to their Country peace with other Nations, & cultivate the good will of mankind towards them, I trust no one will deny. If the Citizens of the United States have obtained the character of an enlightened & liberal people, they will prove that they deserve it, by shewing themselves the true friends of mankind & making their Country not only an asylum for the oppressed of every Nation, but a desirable residence for the virtuous & industrious of every Country” (LB, DLC:GW). Both GW’s reply and the Mechanical Society’s address appeared in the 18 June issue of The Maryland Journal and Baltimore Advertiser.
3. Adam Fonerden joined the Baltimore Mechanical Society in 1768 (McCreary, Mechanical Company description begins George W. McCreary, The Ancient and Honorable Mechanical Company, of Baltimore. Baltimore, 1901. description ends , 122). In 1796, he was the owner of a shoe store at 54 Baltimore Street, and he remained at this address until at least 1800, when he was also the proprietor of a wool and cotton card manufactory. He represented the fifth ward on the City Council, 1797–1801 (Baltimore Directory, 1796 description begins The Baltimore Town and Fell’s Point Directory . . .. Baltimore, . description ends , 27; Baltimore Directory, 1800–1801 description begins The New Baltimore Directory, and Annual Register; For 1800 and 1801 . . .. Baltimore, . description ends , 4, 39; Scharf, History of Baltimore City and County description begins J. Thomas Scharf. History of Baltimore City and County. 1881. New ed., 2 vols. Baltimore, 1971. description ends , 1:187). The federal census of 1790 lists Fonerden as the head of a household consisting of 3 white males over 16, 3 white males under 16, and 7 females (Heads of Families [Maryland], 17).