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Address to Firemen

Mary A. Downing

1841 — Address to Fire Engine Company 18, New York City


If any one class of citizens more than another should be temperate, it is the firemen, as it is to them we look for the protection of our property and our lives.

When the sable curtain of night is drawn around us, and we are quietly reposing on our pillow, who is it that is first to hear the sound of yonder “alarm bell” as it tolls off the burning district? Is it not the fireman? Who is first awake to the shrill cry of the watchman, as he breaks the stillness of night, when the call is made upon our fellow citizens to turn out, for fire is raging in the city? Who, we ask, is the first seen in the streets? Is it not the fireman? When that building is wrapt in flames, who is first to hazard his life to save the inmates from the most distressing of all deaths? It is the fireman. If such be your worth; if such you praiseworthy acts; if such your danger, should you not be temperate men? then go forth in a mighty phalanx — go forth and rear the standard of temperance — show to your fellow firemen that you can brave the severest storm of winter or bask in the sultry heat of summer without the use of intoxicating drinks. And now, members of Union Co. No. 18, as a token of our respect and approbation of your course, we, the members of the Lady Howard Temperance Society, present you with the first Fireman’s Banner that was ever unfurled in the city of New York. May it long wave in triumph over your heads, and may Heaven forbid that you should ever prove recreant to the high trust we have reposed in you.



Source: Martha Washingtonianism, or A History of the Temperance Benevolent Societies, by Lorenzo D. Johnson (New York: Saxton & Miles) 1843, pp. 47-49.