Pearl Street Meeting, New York City, 1782

Cox, John. Quakerism in the City of New York. New York: Privately Printed, 1930, pages 79-81.

This Document is on The Quaker Writings Home Page.

We, the Subscribers, Members of the Society of People, call'd Quakers, having received the inclos'd Directions to take upon us the Charge of the City Watch, Take the Freedom of laying before the Commandant the following Representations thereon.

We acknowledge with Thankfullness, the Protection we, as a People have receiv'd from the Brittish Government, and the Indulgence we have experienc'd from the Rulers here in Matters relative to our peaceable and religious Profession; and we are desirous that Government shou'd believe that we are dispos'd to perform the Common offices of Civil Society, and bear its proportionate Burdens, so far as the same may be consistent with our Religious Principles, and the peaceable Testimony we have ever borne. We are led to believe the inclos'd Direction was not consider'd in its Nature and Tendency to affect our religious Testimony, or it wou'd not have been issued. With all due Respect to the Commandant we shall mention the ground of our objections to it. In charging our Society With the whole Duties of the City Watch, at this peculiar Time, when military works and Labour are carried on by the Rest of our fellow Citizens who at other Times share with us in Common the Business of the Watch, appears to us if accepted to be in substance a "Composition in Lieu of Military service" we cannot in Conscience support or contribute directly or indirectly to the Practice or Business of War. Our peaceable Principles also render the Business of a Watch kept altogether by ourselves, attended with Inconveniences, and perhaps so many that its End might be frustrated. Riotous and ill-dispos'd People wou'd be under small Restraint from Persons who cannot submit even to Bodily Defense, and who wou'd therefore more likely meet with Injustice and abuse themselves than be able to controul Boisterous and unruly men. The Fewness of our Number also wou'd render this undertaking greatly inadequate to the Purpose intended. The whole Number of Males who are members of our Society, and arriv'd at a suitable age do not exceed Fifty Eight. We cannot but think therefore that the Commandant must have misapprehended the Number of Males who compose the Society in this City.

We therefore confide in the Justice and Tenderness of our Rulers for that indulgence which we only ask for Conscience sake.

We are willing and desirous when caiI'd to the Watch as a Civil Duty in common with our Fellow Citizens to comply with so reasonable a Requisition, and those of us who have hitherto been exempted from performing that service will Cheerfully send substitutes if required.

We are with respect Thy Friends

New York 3d mo. 19th 1782.

John Burling             John Lawrence
Sam'l Bowne              William Cooper
Thos. Dobson             Thos. Pearsall
Joseph Delaplaine        Jacob Watson
Rob't. Murray            Charles Brooke
Henry Haydock            James Parsons
Daniel Bowne             Ebenezer Haviland
Oliver Hull              Lindley Murray
Iassc Underhill