George Washington Papers

To George Washington from the Citizens of Salem, Massachusetts, 31 May 1793

From the Citizens of Salem, Massachusetts

Salem [Mass.] May 31st 1793


Fully and deeply impressed with the wisdom, propriety and policy of the measure, which you have lately adopted in issuing your proclamation, wherein it is declared that the duty and interest of the united States require, that they should with sincerity, and good faith adopt and pursue a conduct, friendly and impartial towards the Belligerent powers therein mentioned; And Contemplating with heartfelt sorrow The Calamities and distresses of Mankind invariably accompanying and necessarily incident to a State of War, and at the same time viewing with the most pleasing and grateful emotions the happy and flourishing situation of these States, under the present excellent constitution, in the administration of which so much is due to your integrity, impartiality and wisdom ever watchful to promote the true interests of the Citizens thereof.1

We the Freeholders & other Inhabitants of the Town of Salem in Massachusetts, legally & duly met in town Meeting, cannot refrain from thus unanimously expressing to you the pleasure & Satisfaction, which we received on Seeing that proclamation;2 And are induced to take the earliest Opportunity of Assuring you, of our fixed, and determined resolution of strictly complying with its object, and discountenancing and discouraging the attempts of all persons, who regardless of their duty, & willing to injure the true interests of these States, shall Act in any Manner contrary to the injunctions therein contained; And permit us further to add, that from our knowledge of the Sentiments of our fellow Citizens in this part of our Common Country, We have no doubt, that the watchfulness, and paternal care, of the Supreme Magistrate, of the united States, aided, & assisted by the exertions of the peaceable, and good Citizens thereof, will effectually prevent the Smallest deviations from the Strictest Neutrality, will restore, preserve, and keep our infant Republick in the cheering and fostering bosom of peace, And make and continue us the friends and brothers of the great family of Mankind.

Committee in behalf and by Order of the Town of Salem

Elias Hasket Derby Edward Augustus Holyoke Saml Gray
George Dodge William Gray jur Ebenr Beckford
Benja. Pickman Joseph White Elias Hasket Derby Junr
Jno. Fisk William Orne Jerath[mee]l Peirce
John Norris Jona. Ingersoll Joshua Ward
Jacob Ashton Simon Forrister Joseph Sprague


2The 4 June 1793 edition of the Salem Gazette reported: “At a Meeting of the Inhabitants of the Town of Salem, legally warned and assembled, at the Court House, on Friday the 31st of May, 1793, for the important purpose of taking into their serious consideration the pleasing and timely Proclamation issued by the President of the United States of America, . . . Voted unanimously, That the town of Salem, feelingly impressed with the highest sense of the wisdom, goodness and importance of the President’s Proclamation, do address the President of the United States on that subject. An address was then laid before the town, and read. Voted unanimously, That the town approve of, receive and adopt the Address presented.” GW’s undated reply reads: “Placed in the situation I am by the free voice of my fellow Citizens, it becomes a duty, pleasing as it is strong, to pursue such measures as appear best calculated to promote their true interests. Under this imp[r]ession I issued the late Proclamation, declaring the neutrality of the U. States in the present contest between France & other European powers. In making this declaration, I was persuaded that I spoke the wishes of my Countrymen, without violating any political or moral obligation. And the evidences of satisfaction which have been exhibited on this occasion, as well as the assurances of good citizens to use their influence in preserving the peace & prosperity of our infant Republic, afford a new proof of that liberal & enlightened sentiment which has been so often & so honorably manifested by them on great occasions” (LB, DLC:GW). GW’s reply was printed in the 18 June issue of the Salem Gazette.

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