George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Harrisburg, Pa., Burgesses and Citizens, 3 October 1794

From Harrisburg, Pa., Burgesses and Citizens

[3 Oct. 1794]


While we, the Burgesses and Citizens of Harrisburg rejoice in the opportunity of presenting our Respects to a Character so justly revered and dear to Americans, we sincerely lament that we should owe it to an interruption of the Peace and prosperity of our Country those constant objects of your public Cares.

We trust however that the just Indignation which fires the Breasts of all virtuous Citizens at the unprovoked outrages committed by those lawless men who are in opposition to one of the mildest & most equal Governments of which the condition of man is susceptible will excite such Exertions as to crush the Spirit of Disaffection wherever it has appeared, and that our political Horison will shine brighter than ever on a Dispersion of the Clouds which now unhappily obscure it.

Though our Sphere of Action is too limited to produce any important Effects, yet we beg leave to assure your Excellency that so far as it extends, our best Endeavours shall not be wanting to support the happy constitution, and wise administration of our Government. We are on behalf of the Citizens of Harrisburgh And ourselves with great respect Your Excellency’s most obedient and very humble servants

Conrad Bombach } Burgesses.1
Alex: Berryhill

LS, DLC:GW; LB, DLC:GW. En route to the rendezvous at Carlisle, Pa., of the troops being sent to suppress the insurrection in western Pennsylvania, GW “dined and lodged” at Harrisburg on this date (Diaries description begins Donald Jackson and Dorothy Twohig, eds. The Diaries of George Washington. 6 vols. Charlottesville, Va., 1976–79. description ends , 6:180–81). Although this document is undated, it was given the date of 3 Oct. when printed by the Oracle of Dauphin and Harrisburgh Advertiser of 6 October. As the document is docketed “Address from the Burgesses & Citizens of Harrisburgh delivd 4th October 1794,” it is possible that the address was not formally delivered until just before GW’s departure on the morning of 4 October. GW replied on that date: “In declaring to you the genuine satisfaction I derive from your very cordial address, I will not mingle any expression of the painful sensations which I experience from the occasion that has drawn me hither. You will be at no loss to do justice to my feelings. But relying on that kindness of providence towards our country which every adverse appearance hitherto has served to manifest and counting upon the tried good sense and patriotism of the great body of our fellow Citizens I do not hesitate to endulge with you the expectation of such an issue as will serve to confirm the blessings we enjoy under a constitution that well deserves the confidence, attachment and support of virtuous and enlightened men—to class the inhabitants of Harrisburgh among this number is only to bear testimony to the zealous and efficient exertions which they have made towards the defence of the laws” (LB, DLC:GW).

Alexander Graydon, a Revolutionary War officer who was at this time prothonotary of Dauphin County, later claimed authorship of this address: “I prevailed upon the burgesses to present an address to the president, which I sketched out” (Graydon, Memoirs of a Life description begins Alexander Graydon. Memoirs of a Life, Chiefly Passed in Pennsylvania, within the Last Sixty Years; With Occasional Remarks upon the General Occurrences, Character and Spirit of that Eventful Period. Harrisburg, Pa., 1811. description ends , 345).

1Conrad Bombach (Bombaugh; c.1750–1821) and Alexander Berryhill (1738–1798) served in the Lancaster County militia during the Revolutionary War and were early residents of Harrisburg. Bombach was a millwright, and Berryhill was a justice of the peace.

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