George Washington Papers

Enclosure: Resolutions from Frederick County, Virginia, Citizens, 5 November 1793


Resolutions from Frederick County, Virginia, Citizens

[Winchester, Va., 5 November 1793]

At a numerous meeting of the Inhabitants of Frederick County at the Court House in Winchester on Tuesday the fifth day of november 1793 for the purpose of taking under Consideration the Proclamation of the President of the United States, declaring the neutrality of the said States in the present European War—Alexander White is appointed Chairman and John Peyton Clerk.1

Resolved that in the opinion of this meeting the late Proclamation of the President declaring the neutrality of the United States and enjoining a conduct friendly and impartial towards all the Belligerent Powers of Europe was a well timed Constitutional measure, and holds a conspicuous place among the many great and important services rendered by him to his native Country.

Resolved that this meeting consider it as an incumbent duty to express their approbation of the said Proclamation, and of the measures which have been pursued for enforcing the same, as a tribute justly due to the Wisdom, the vigilance, and unremitted attention of our Fellow Citizen in the discharge of the important Duties of his high Office, more especially as attempts have been made to censure his Conduct therein, and to induce a belief that it does not accord with the general Sentiments and Wishes of the American People—This meeting are duly impressed with the important truth “That the Sovereignty of the United States is vested in the People”—but it being impracticable to exercise that Sovereignty either in their individual or collective capacity—they have wisely instituted Governments, General and particular, and have transferred to them every power deemed necessary to secure Peace and Liberty and promote the general Welfare.

Resolved that it is through the several Departments of Governments alone that the Will of the People can be manifested or their power exerted. That the Officers of those Departments (although amenable to the People for their Conduct in the various ways prescribed by the Laws and Constitutions of the Union and of the several States) in the exercise of their proper functions ought to be respected and obeyed—That an appeal to the People at large in opposition to any Constitutional Act of Government is inconsistent with the principles of Civil Society, and in all cases would prove destructive of that Peace and Order for the support of which Governments are instituted—That should the ministers or agents of Foreign nations appeal or propose to appeal from the decisions of the Excutive of the United States in matters respecting their mission, to any other Department of Government, or to the People; every attempt of that kind ought to meet the most pointed disapprobation of the Citizens of the United States as a measure evidently tending to introduce civil dissention, discord, and corruption; and finally to endanger the existence of the Government itself.2

Resolved that this meeting retain a grateful remembrance of the distinguished Services rendered to our Country by the French nation—that they wish to cultivate her Friendship and Alliance, to see her Government assimilated to our own by the establishment of a free Republic as the best foundation of her prosperity and an additional cement of our union.

Resolved as the opinion of this meeting that the United States are not bound by the existing Treaties with France to engage in the present War against any of the European nations—That such a measure would prove destructive of the dearest interests of America without rendering any essential service to France—On the contrary that she would be thereby deprived of the advantages she now recieves from our neutrality.

Resolved that a Copy of the several foregoing Resolutions be forthwith transmitted to the President of the United States And that they also be published in the Winchester Gazettes.3

John Peyton Clk

Alexr White Ch: M.


1GW’s Neutrality Proclamation was dated 22 April. John Peyton (c.1757– 1804), a son-in-law of Virginia congressman Robert Rutherford, was clerk of the Superior Court at Winchester and had been clerk of the Frederick Parish vestry.

2This resolution refers to accusations about the conduct of French minister Edmond Genet (see Genet to GW, 13 Aug., and n.4).

3The resolutions were printed in Bowen’s Virginia Centinel and Gazette; or, the Winchester Repository, 11 November.

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