Tobias Lear to John Field
Philadelphia 7th January 1791
The President of the United States having observed in the papers of this morning that a number of respectable citizens have engaged in a benevolent plan for the relief of such persons as the inclemency of the season and other circumstances had reduced to great distress, he has directed me to transmit ten pounds to you as the Treasurer, to be applied in such a manner as may best answer the benevolent purpose for which it is intended. I have the honor to be, very respectfully Sir, your Most Obt Servt
S. P. U. S.
P.S. It has often happened that donations of this kind from the President have been published in the News-Papers—You will therefore excuse my observing that this circumstance is not agreeable to the President.
On 7 Jan. 1791 the General Advertiser and Political, Commercial, and Literary Journal [Philadelphia] reported that “a numerous and respectable meeting of citizens in the German School-House in Cherry street, Robert Annan in the chair,” had resolved: “Whereas, it appears that many industrious persons are suffering from the want of employment, and other causes at this inclement season of the year, and it being the duty of those whom Providence has blessed with the means of comfortable subsistence to relieve their suffering fellow-citizens. Therefore resolved—That to carry this intention into execution, two or more persons be appointed in each ward in the city . . . to go from house to house and to solicit contributions for the above purpose. Resolved—That all such sums of money as shall be collected for this benevolent purpose, be lodged in the hands of John Field who is appointed treasurer.” John Field, originally from Princeton, N.J., was a Quaker merchant whose business was located at 22 South Front Street (Corner, Autobiography of Benjamin Rush, description begins George W. Corner, ed. The Autobiography of Benjamin Rush: His “Travels Through Life” together with his Commonplace Book for 1789–1813. Princeton, N.J., 1948. description ends 211; Crane, Elizabeth Drinker Diary, description begins Elaine Forman Crane et al., eds. The Diary of Elizabeth Drinker. 3 vols. Boston, 1991. description ends 3:2147).