01/17/10 590 W - + 7 - 9 Call For Fire Protection, Edenton, 1789

Turning our time machine to the late 18th Century-- and with Beethoven's Choral Fantasy, composed 1808, playing on the stereo by complete coincidence-- here's a call for citizen fire protection in Edenton in 1789. This notice appeared in the State Gazette of North-Carolina, December 10, 1789, on page 3, column 1, and was reprinted in the North Carolina Historical Review, Volume VI, Numbers 1-4, January-October, 1929:



To the FREEHOLDERS and others, the good Townsmen of EDENTON.

Age dum fentis.

Strike whilst the iron is hot.

THIS is a common, yet an interesting proverb, full of prudence and prevention: In time, with circumspection to prevent a calimity [sic] is wisdom--in some instances, without this attention, the catastrophe is lamentation.

The influence of fire must always be dreaded. Its destructive effects may be greatly impeded by prevention, which science and machinery have prepared for our use.

Our town is fabricated of wood; Bridgetown, of Barbadoes [sic], Kinston, of Jamaica, Charleston, of South-Carolina, were of wood, have all near been totally destroyed by fire; the re-building with wood, have been inhibited by Legislative acts.

To presage or foretell the state or destruction of our homes, by fire, must hurt the feelings of every thinking person; yet the terror and apprehension of the danger, out to induce all of us to act, to prevent, before it is too.

The transaction of last Saturday evening may be called forward--the fire of Mr. Butler's ware-house; a large, useful, and expensive building, from mere chance escaped destruction. A perfect accidental circumstance saved his buildings. If the fire had not happily been prevented, the wind setting full on the town--dry wooden houses, the damage may be imagined, not computed.

This out to rouse, whilst we have power, all our active attentions in a business so truly interesting.

Let us suppose the fire had not been discovered--the damage partial--the ware-house and all other buildings on the wharf consumed--as industrious, frugal honest citizen reduce from opulent circumstances to penury and want--What breast would not have sympathized?--What mind would not have felt distress? The unfortunate, ruined sufferer, would have heard conversations of condolence and pity, the trite feelings of a momentary passion; this would only have augmented his sufferings, well knowing the pity is but one grade removed from contempt and despication [sic].

Let us then, my fellow-townsmen, by a judicious and sensible exertion of our powers, strive to fling the calamities of fire far distant from our habitations, by a well timed action and spirited perseverance. It is a fact, which may be related and depended on, the poor inhabitants cannot bear a tax; it must be ingenuous, spirited, and patriotic efforts of the rich, and those who have property to protect.

To accomplish so interesting and desirable a purpose, I presume to recommend to the freeholders and others, the good inhabitants of Edenton, that a general meeting be called and convened on a certain day, and at a mentioned place, to converse in the above business, that all efforts in their power may be brought forth, that the dreadful influence of fire may, if possible, be obviated. This meeting, with mind disposed to the service of the town, maybe productive of great utility, as many other interesting matters may undergo investigation, and may tend do the decorum, decency, and advancement of the town in general.

Coming forward unbidden, may look something like a Busy Body, but is is to be hoped the goodness of the intention will be deemed an apology.


Dec. 8, 1789,

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