George Washington Papers

Enclosure: Address from Fairfax County, Virginia, Citizens, 21 October 1793


Address from Fairfax County, Virginia, Citizens

[Fairfax County, Va., c.21 October 1793]

To George Washington President of the United States of America

Whilst the people of America, are so generally signifying to you Sir, their perfect approbation of your Proclamation; enjoining on the part of the Citizens of the United States, a strict neutrality, towards the belligerent Powers of Europe;1 we should have remained silent, under this general approbation, & not have troubled you, with our sentiments, did we not conceive, that the present crisis, calls loudly on all those, who feel for the dignity of their Government, to speak out, the language of their hearts—When foreigners, shall be so far forgetful, of the respect they owe, to the Sovereignty of the Community, in which they reside, as to threaten an appeal, to the Body of the People, from the decisions, & conduct of those, with whom the people have entrusted, that part of it, which relates to their foreign connections; & in despite of the public authority, prohibiting the contrary; shall arm & equip Vessels of war in our Ports, for the purpose of capturing the property of Nations with whom we are at Peace;2 which things can only have for their object, internal confusion, and all the calamities, of external warfare; that a stop may be put, to proceedings so hurtful, & so dangerous, we think it the duty, of the Citizens, to let their Sentiments be publicly known—Impressed with this truth, we the Subscribers, Landholders & Inhabitants of Fairfax County, have presented ourselves before you, and beg leave to assure you; that, as in all your conduct as Presiding Majistrate of these United States, we have seen you pursuing, with firmness & propriety, the good of Mankind, & the solid glory, & interests of your Country; and in no instance, we conceive, more truly honorable to yourself, or more serviceable, to us, than in the conduct, you have caused to be pursued, towards the Nations of Europe now at war; we shall hold ourselves bound to oppose, all attempts that shall be made, to disturb the Peace, or injure the Independance, & dignity of the Government, over which you preside, by the machinations of foreigners, or the intemperate actions, of discontented Individuals, of our own Country—We trust, that in speaking thus, we do but proclaim, the Ideas of every well intentioned Citizen of America, for all have felt, & we trust, will long continue to feel, the blessings of an Administration, where wisdom, temper, & firmness, have so conspicuously presided.

Signed by about five hundred Inhabitants And by their desire forwarded by.3

Ludwell Lee

R: West

DS, DLC:GW; LB, DLC:GW. The DS is in Ludwell Lee’s writing. This address was dated 22 Oct. when published in newspapers such as the Baltimore Daily Intelligencer, 2 November.

2For the charge that French minister Edmond Genet had threatened to appeal some of GW’s decisions to the people, see Genet to GW, 13 Aug., and n.4. For the controversy over the arming of French privateers, see memorandum from Alexander Hamilton, 15 May, and notes 1 and 3 to that document. A circular letter of 24 May from Secretary of War Henry Knox to the state governors had announced GW’s prohibition of the practice (see Knox to GW, 24 May, n.2).

3The 500 signatures are not on the DS. GW responded to this address in a letter to Lee and West of 24 October.

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