Resolutions from the Talbot County, Maryland, Citizens
[7 September 1793]
At a Meeting of the Citizens of Talbot County held at Easton on Saturday the 7th day of September instant, in consequence of a previous Notification in “the Maryland Herald,” for the purpose of expressing their Sense of the Duty & Interest of their Country in observing a strict Neutrality with the powers at war, & their Opinion of such measures as have been taken upon that subject—Jeremiah Banning Esqr. was chosen Chairman.1
Whereupon a Committee of five Citizens was appointed to draught a set of suitable resolutions expressive of the Sentiments of the Meeting. The Committee accordingly retired, and after some time return’d, and reported the following resolutions; which were proposed to the Citizens assembled, duly considered by them, and unanimously adopted.
Resolved that the Citizens assembled are deeply impressed with the Excellence of their General Government, and are fully persuaded that the happiness & prosperity enjoyed by the United States proceed from the administration thereof.
Resolved that in the Opinion of the Citizens assembled it is unquestionably the Duty and Interest of the people of the United States to observe a friendly and impartial Conduct, and a strict Neutrality, with all the powers now at War in Europe.
Resolved that the Proclamation of Neutrality issued by the President of the United States was, in the Opinion of the Citizens assembled, a measure flowing from Wisdom and sound Policy, and a constitutional Act; and that the great and good George Washington, the said President, hath proved himself upon that Occasion, as he hath upon all others of a public Nature, the FRIEND of the People.2
Resolved that the Governor and Council of Maryland, by their prompt and timely promulgation of the said proclamation, injoining it upon the Citizens of this State to observe a friendly and impartial Conduct, & a strict Neutrality, with the powers at war, have entitled themselves to the thanks and approbation of the people.3
Resolved that, in the Opinion of the Citizens assembled, every person whatsoever, who censures the Conduct of the President in issuing the said proclamation, or who, directly or indirectly, endeavors to involve the United States into a participation of the War, is inimical to the Interests and happiness of this Country; and that all lawful means ought to be exerted to bring to his merited punishment every Citizen who shall in any manner infringe the Neutrality of the United States.
Resolved that the people of the United States, in the Opinion of the Citizens assembled, are fully competent to the management of their own Affairs, and that they detest the Idea of all foreign Influence upon the Government thereof: Wherefore the Citizens assembled consider the Interference of Foreigners, whatever Character they may bear, in the measures of the administration, either by joining with ill-disposed Societies, or by intriguing with Individuals, for the purpose of thwarting such measures, or otherwise, except in a course established by the Usage of Nations, as injurious and insulting to the Government and people of the United States, and as meriting their most public Contempt.4
Resolved that the Citizens assembled are ready and willing, with their Lives and Fortunes, to support the Government of the United States as established by the people, and every wise and constitutional Act of the Administration, and to defend their common Country against all secret and traitorous Conspiracies, and against all external Hostilities: But while they are thus disposed to support the just and lawful measures of their Government, they at the same time declare, that they will not tamely suffer a Departure from those principles, which promoted the freedom & Independence of the people.
Resolved that the foregoing Resolutions be communicated by the Chairman to the President of the United States, accompanied by Expressions of our Esteem and Attachment to his person, and of our heartfelt Wishes for his constant Health and happiness.5 By Order of the Meeting,
Jeremiah Banning Chairman.
DS, DLC:GW; LB, DLC:GW. These resolutions were printed in the Maryland Herald, and Eastern Shore Intelligencer (Easton), 10 September.
1. The notification, dated 1 Sept., was printed in the Maryland Herald, and Eastern Shore Intelligencer, 3 September.
3. Thomas Jefferson enclosed a copy of GW’s Neutrality Proclamation in his circular letter to the state governors of 26 April (Jefferson Papers description begins Julian P. Boyd et al., eds. The Papers of Thomas Jefferson. 40 vols. to date. Princeton, N.J., 1950—. description ends , 25:588– 89), and the proclamation was published in Maryland newspapers by 2 May. On 4 May, Maryland governor Thomas Sim Lee issued a proclamation “with the advice and consent of the council . . . earnestly exhorting the good people of this state to observe the peaceable and impartial conduct recommended as aforesaid by the President of the United States, and I do further enjoin all the officers of this state to be zealous and active in discouraging all proceedings that may be inconsistent with the pacific disposition announced as aforesaid, and endanger the happy state of tranquillity which this country at present enjoys” (Maryland Gazette [Annapolis], 9 May).
4. In the spring and summer of 1793, a number of societies were formed in support of the French cause. The most influential of these societies, the Democratic Society of Pennsylvania, issued a circular letter on 4 July setting out their view of the national interest and asking their fellow citizens to join them in a “constant correspondence” on the subject: “Every mind capable of reflection, must perceive, that the present crisis in the politics of nations is peculiarly interesting to America. The European confederacy, transcendent in power, and unparalleled in iniquity, menaces the very existence of freedom. Already its baneful operation may be traced in the tyrannical destruction of the constitution, and the rapacious partition of the territory of Poland: and should the glorious efforts of France be eventually defeated, we have reason to presume, that for the consummation of monarchial ambition, and the security of its establishments, this country, the only remaining depository of liberty, will not long be permitted to enjoy in peace the honors of an independent, and the happiness of a republican government.
“Nor are the dangers arising from a foreign source the only causes, at this time, of apprehension and solicitude. The seeds of luxury appear to have taken root in our domestic soil; and the jealous eye of patriotism already regards the spirit of freedom and equality, as eclipsed by the pride of wealth, and the arrogance of power.
“This general view of our situation has led to the institution of the Democratic Society. A constant circulation of useful information, and a liberal communication of republican sentiments, were thought to be the best antidotes to any political poison, with which the vital principles of civil liberty might be attacked: For, by such means a fraternal confidence will be established among the citizens; every symptom of innovation will be studiously marked; and a standard will be erected, to which, in danger and distress, the friends of liberty may successfully resort.
“To obtain these objects, then, and to cultivate on all occasions the love of peace, order and harmony, an attachment to the constitution, and a respect to the laws of our country, will be the aim of the Democratic Society. Party and personal considerations are excluded from a system of this nature; for in the language of the articles under which we are united, men and measures will only be estimated according to their intrinsic merits, and their influence in promoting the prosperity of the state” (Pennsylvania Gazette [Philadelphia], 17 July).
The Talbot County resolution was aimed at those Democratic Societies and what opponents saw as the related activities of Edmond Genet, the French minister to the United States.
5. GW responded to these resolutions in his letter to Banning of 16 Sept.: “The approbation which the administration of the general Government has met from my fellow Citizens throughout these States cannot fail to excite in me the liveliest satisfaction; & the assurances given by them of their firm intentions to unite in keeping our Country in a state of peace at this important moment, is an additional & pleasing testimony of the unanimity & good sense of the Citizens of the U. States.
“While I beg you to assure the Citizens of Talbot, of the reliance I place on their disposition towards the general Government, manifested in the resolutions, I also request you to make known to them the pleasure I receive from their expressions of esteem & attachment for my person; & to you, Sir, for your polite manner of transmitting these resolutions, my best thanks are offered” (LB, DLC:GW).