George Washington Papers

To George Washington from the Citizens of Burlington County, New Jersey, 13 August 1793

From the Citizens of Burlington County, New Jersey

Burlington County New Jersey [13 August 1793]

The sentiments of free Citizens upon the measures of their Government on interesting or embarrassing occasions are of the greatest importance both to the liberty of the Citizens—and the operations—of the Government.

Impressed with this idea the Citizens of the County of Burlington embrace the opportunity presented by the sitting of the Circuit Court in their County, and the presence of a large number of their most respectable members convened from every part of the County, to take into consideration the Proclamations of the President of the United States and the Vice-President of this State relative to the neutrality of the United States of America in the present European War.1 Whereupon an hour having been appointed for the meeting of the Citizens, and they having met accordingly at the Court house of the said County on Tuesday the thirteenth of August 1793, and having appointed General Joseph Bloomfield Chairman of said meeting, it was unanimously resolved.

  • 1st That the Republican Citizens of the County of Burlington are highly impressed with the policy and justice of the measures recommended by the said Proclamations which declare to the people the Supreme Law of the Land, founded on the existing treaties between the belligerent powers and these United States, and that in so doing he acted strictly in the line of his duty, and for the best interest of his Country.2
  • 2dly That the Citizens of the County of Burlington will upon all occasions with the warmest zeal Co-operate in every legal way to detect and punish offenders against the rights of neutrality, and by all means in their power discountenance designs or proceedings calculated to interrupt that tranquillity and happiness which the Citizens of the United States enjoy under a pure and pacific administration of the Government.
  • 3dly And farther it is the opinion of this assemblage of Citizens, that as the highest privilege of these United States consists in their Republican form of Federal Government; as the only legitimate source of this Government is the People, as they are the only proper persons to appoint and elect those who are to carry it into operation, and to judge of the official conduct of their Magistrates; so any interference in the internal administration of the Government by any foreign power or Minister is, an infringement of the Sovereignty of the People, tends to destroy public confidence, leads to anarchy and merits the severest reprehensions and discountenance of all independent Americans.3
  • 4thy Resolved that copies of these Resolutions be forthwith transmitted to the President of the United States4 and to the Governor of this State.5 Signed by order of the Meeting,

Joseph Bloomfield, Chairman

D (signed by Joseph Bloomfield and in his writing), DLC:GW; LB, DLC:GW. Bloomfield enclosed this address with a brief cover letter to GW of 13 Aug. 1793 that was sent “per Mr Tucker” (DLC:GW). This address appeared in the 17 Aug. issue of the General Advertiser (Philadelphia) and the 21 Aug. issue of the New-Jersey Journal (Elizabeth).

1After receiving an “official” communication of GW’s Neutrality Proclamation of 22 April 1793, acting governor Elisha Lawrence (1746–1799), “Vice President, Captain General and Commander in chief in and over the State of New-Jersey,” issued a state declaration of neutrality on 15 May, “by and with the advice of the Honorable the Privy Council” (New-Jersey Journal, 22 May 1793).

2For the Treaty of Amity and Commerce and the Treaty of Alliance signed with France in 1778, and the Treaty of Peace signed with Great Britain in 1783, see Miller, Treaties description begins Hunter Miller, ed. Treaties and Other International Acts of the United States of America. Vol. 2, 1776-1818. Washington, D.C., 1931. description ends , 3–47, 151–57.

3For an example of what many Americans deemed inappropriate behavior by the French minister Edmond Genet, see Thomas Jefferson’s Notes on a Conversation with Genet, 10 July 1793, and notes 6, 9, enclosed in Jefferson’s first memorandum to GW of 11 July 1793.

4GW, writing from Philadelphia, replied to Bloomfield on 17 Aug. 1793: “I have received with great pleasure the Resolutions of the Citizens of the County of Burlington which were enclosed in your letter of the 13th of this month.

“In addition to the high satisfaction which I feel in knowing that my measures are approved by my fellow-citizens, it affords me no small pleasure to see, that, in giving this public testimony of their approbation, they take occasion to express those manly and independent sentiments which are truly characteristic of a free and an enlightened people. And I must beg you to assure the Citizens of the County of Burlington, that, beleiving as I do, that the true interest of this Country and the happiness of its Citizens depend upon our remaining in a state of peace during the present important crisis, I cannot but highly applaud their patriotic Resolution to use all means in their power for the accomplishment of this desireable object—And that I am no less pleased with the sentiment which they have expressed respecting any foreign interference in the internal Administration of our Government” (LS, RPJCB; LB, DLC:GW). GW’s reply appeared in the 28 Aug. issue of the New-Jersey Journal.

5Lawrence became acting governor of New Jersey when Gov. William Paterson resigned in March 1793 in order to accept an appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court (GW to Paterson, 20 Feb. 1793, and note 4). Lawrence served in this capacity until the New Jersey legislature elected attorney Richard Howell (1754–1802) to the governorship on 3 June 1793. Howell, a member of the Society of the Cincinnati, held this position until 1801, when Joseph Bloomfield replaced him.

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