American Weekly Mercury, August 16, 1739

Last Week the Assembly of this Province gave Notice to the Tanners to appear before them, to offer their Objections to a Petition that Pray’d the Tanners might be removed without the Bounds of this City, and no new Tanyards made in it. Notice was likewise given to some of the Principal Promoters of the said Petition, to appear and defend the Allegations therein set forth. The several Parties appearing, the Tanners, on their Part, Alledged, That the Petition was without Foundation; that the Causes of Complaint ought to be charged to the present disorderly Condition of the Dock, which was a Receptacle for all kinds of filth from a very great part of the Town, and in the upper Parts of it without water sufficient to carry it off; abundance of Necessary-Houses on the Dock, and Communicating with it, were specially urged: It was likewise offer’d to prove, by clear Instances, that it was not truly asserted in that Petition, that the Health of the Inhabitants was affected by Tanyards, and especially it appeared that they did not promote contagious Distempers among us, because that when such Distemper ranged with great violence in this City, the Inhabitants who were in the Neighbourhood of the Tanyards were preserved from it more than in other Parts of the Town. The practice and allowance of Tanyards in the Towns and thick settled Parts of Great-Britain, and especially in one of the Wards of the City of London, and under the Government of the Lord Mayor, was prov’d and own’d. The Practice of New-York, in respect to Tan-Yards, was mentioned as a precedent; but Reasons (that were not disproved) were offer’d why a proceeding of that kind, if it were true, ought not to be a Precedent for us to allow in this Case, and that the Burchers [sic], a Trade that of necessity was much more offensive than Tanning, were allowed in that City for the same reason the Tanners offer’d, because the Situation was Convenient. Some other Things too were offer’d by them, as reply’s to the Gentlemen on the other Side; but when the Tann, Horns, Dead Dogs, Country People losing their Dogs, Tanners Dogs biting People, a Dog mangled, an other rescu’d from a Slaughterhouse, and such like, were urg’d before that Hon House as Reasons for Removing the Tanners out of Town, it was then thought necessary by them to reply to what, in their Opinion, was so impertinent to the Point. Many Reasons besides, what are already recollected, were urg’d by them on their own behalf, particularly that Application was made by some of them to the Mayor and Recorder for a Regulation of the Dock and Dock-Street, which Regulation being once made, they concluded to regulate their Yards; and in fine, offer’d such Proposals for the better regulating Tanyards as the House readily agreed to.

Upon the whole, the Petition was Rejected, the Tanners right to follow their Trades within the City, according to their own Proposals asserted, and the Corporation to see that they comply’d with such a Regulation.

For this happy Conclusion of an Affair that was Prosecuted with such Violence, and so immediately threatned the Tanners with the Loss of their Properties, they, no doubt, will ever gratefully express their Acknowledgements to those Worthy Members who stood so firmly for their Liberties, and next them to their Fellow Citizens who Petitioned on their Behalf, and to those too who having sign’d the other Petition, saw at last the Consequences of it, and how far such a Precedent might be made use of to the Destruction of many other Tradesmen, or almost any others, they saw it and generously renouncing an Inadvertant Error, strove with much earnestness to frustrate such a daring attempt on the LIBERTIES OF THE TRADESMEN OF PHILADELPHIA.

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