This bucket is marked with the name of its owner, the motto of his fire company or fire society, and the year 1794. The motto “Pour Nos Amis” means “For Our Friends” in French. In the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, volunteer firefighting was viewed as a civic responsibility. Firemen received no monetary remuneration for risking their lives, but they were well paid in terms of community respect, praise, and tribute. For example, newspapers praised the chivalry and daring of firemen on every possible occasion. Volunteer companies chose mottos that would portray them as selflessly serving their communities and fulfilling their duty as citizens. They wanted to present themselves as devoted and morally worthy. “For Our Friends” emphasized the civic virtue and commitment of the volunteer fireman, who performed strenuous work in the service of his city. It highlighted the company’s connections to its neighbors, and thus encouraged the kind of community adoration and status enhancement that volunteers received in lieu of official payment.
This bucket was most likely made in a community with a sizable French-speaking population, which would have wanted to reflect its heritage by adopting a French motto. This suggests several possible places of origin. For example, French Huguenots, who were persecuted for their Protestant faith in France, settled in large numbers in New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and various parts of New England. French Canadian immigrants from Quebec also settled in New England, particularly in Maine and Vermont. After the American Revolution, Congress gave French Canadians who had fought on the side of the colonies land in New York, on the shores of Lake Champlain. There was also a large French-speaking population in Louisiana, which had been claimed in the name of King Louis XIV of France in 1682. While in 1794, when this bucket was painted, Louisiana was under Spanish rule, most Louisianans were of French origin.
Note: Regarding potential cities of origin: This bucket is of the same design as G161, which belonged to W.P. Goodhue and is marked 1839. There was also a large Huguenot population in Charleston, South Carolina, but there is no W.P. Goodhue listed in the 1837-38 Charleston city directory, or in the 1838 New Orleans city directory; therefore this bucket is probably not from either of those cities.
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