This petition to Congress is from 106 members of the Union Fire Company No.1 from Lancaster, Pennsylvania, presumed to be the oldest volunteer Fire Company in the United States. The petition, inscribed on a watercolor of the American Flag, was received by Congress on February 6, 1861, when concerns over Southern secession were still balanced with hopes of preserving the Union and averting war. In the petition, the Company asked Congress to pass the Crittenden Compromise (or a similar measure) to preserve the Union. The volunteer firemen noted, "where the fiercest flames threatened the greatest destruction, they never stopped to inquire the cause, but rushed to use their best efforts to subdue the devouring element." They hoped that Congress would also find a way for the nation to avoid the flames of civil war.