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2. From Mr. Adams to Mr. Lee, in answer.*
Grosvenor-Square, January 4, 1786. DEAR SIR,
A day or two after the receipt of your letter of November 1, and that of Mr. Jay's which came with it, I wrote to the archbishop of Canterbury, by Col. Smith, for an hour when I might have the honour to pay my respects to his grace, and was answered very politely, that he would be glad to have the honour of seeing me next day, between eleven and twelve. Accordingly I went yesterday, and was very agreeably received, by a venerable and a candid prelate, with whom I had before only exchanged visits of ceremony. I told his grace, that at the desire of two very respectable characters in America, the late president of congress and the present secretary of state for the department of foreign affairs, I had the honour to be the bearer to his grace of a letter from a convention of delegates from the Episcopal Churches in most of the southern states, which had been transmitted to me open, that I might be acquainted with its contents. That in this business, however, I acted in no official character, having no instructions from congress, nor indeed from the convention; but I thought it most respectful to them, as well as to his grace, to present the letter in person. The archbishop answered, that all that he could say at present was, that he was himself very well disposed to give the satisfaction desired for that he was by no means one of those who wished that contention should be kept up between the two countries, or between one party and another in America-but, on the contrary, was desirous of doing every thing in his power to promote harmony and good humour. I then said, that if his grace would take the trouble of reading two letters from Mr. Lee and Mr. Jay, he would perceive the motives of those gentlemen in sending the letter to my care. I gave him the letters, which he read attentively and returned, and added, that it was a great satisfaction to him to see, that gentlemen of character and reputation interested themselves in it-for that the Episcopalians in the United States could not have the full
There is in possession a copy of a letter to John Jay, Esq.containing the same in substance; it being in answer to a-letter of that gentleman, then secretary of state for foreign affairs.
and complete enjoyment of their religious liberties without it—and he subjoined, that it was also a great satisfaction to him, to have received this visit from me upon this occasion -and he would take the liberty to ask me, if it were not an improper question, whether the interposition of the English bishops would not give uneasiness and dissatisfaction in America ? I replied, that my answer could be only that of a private citizen, and in that capacity I had no scruple to say that the people of the United States in general, were for a liberal and generous toleration. I might indeed employ a stronger word, and call it a right, and the first right of mankind, to worship God according to their consciences, and therefore that I could not see any reasonable ground for dissatisfaction, and that I hoped and believed that there would be none of any consequence.
His grace was then pleased to say, that religion in all countries, especially a young one, ought to be attended to, as it was the foundation of government. He hoped the characters which should be recommended, would be good ones. I replied, that there were in the Churches in America, able men, of characters altogether irreproachable
and that such and such only, I presumed, would be recommended. I then rose to take my leave, and his grace then asked me, if he might be at liberty to mention, that I had made him this visit upon this occasion ? I answered, certainly, if his grace should judge it proper. Thus, sir, I have fulfilled my commission, and remain, as usual, your sincere friend and most obedient servant,
JOHN ADAMS, (A true copy.) Richard Henry Lee.
3. Letter of the Archbishop of Canterbury to Mr. Adams.
Lambeth House, February 27, 1786
After full communication with the archbishop of York, and the bishops, on the subject of the address, which you delivered to me from the deputies of the Protestant Episcopal Church, in convention, in Philadelphia, I concur with them in requesting the favour of you, to forward our answer to the committee appointed to receive it. Duplicates of the answer accompany this letter; which, if sent by different ships, we hope may give a better chance of the early arrival of one of them.
I have the honour to be,
4. Certificate of the Supreme Executive Council of Penn
The supreme executive council of the commonwealth of Pennsylvania, do hereby certify and make known to all whom it may concern, that agreeably to the frame of government and laws of this commonwealth-the clergy and others, members of the Church of England in Pennsylvania, are at liberty to take such means as they may think proper, for keeping up a succession of religious teachers-Provided only, that the means they adopt for this purpose do not induce a subjection to any foreign jurisdiction, civil or ecclesiastical. Given in council under the hand of the honourable Charles
Biddle, Esquire, Vice-President, and the seal of the
CHARLES BIDDLE, V. P. JOHN ARMSTRONG, Jur. Scc.
5. A Certificate of his Excellency Patrick Henry, Esq.
Governor of Virginia.*
By his Excellency Patrick Henry, Esq. Governor of the Com
monwealth of Virginia.
It is certified and made known to all whom it may concern—That the Protestant Episcopal Church is incorpo
copy of the certificate of the governor of Virginia, was sent to the author by the Rev. Dr. Griffith, bishop elect of that state, to be laid before the conventior of October, 1786.
rated by an act of the legislature of this commonwealth, for: that purpose, made and provided : that there is no law existing in this commonwealth, which in any manner forbids the admission of bishops, or the exercise of their office: on the contrary, by the sixteenth article of the declaration of rights, it is provided in the words following, viz.-" That religion, or the duty which we owe to our Creator, and the manner of discharging it, can be directed only by reason and conviction, not by force or violence, and therefore all men are equally entitled to the free exercise of religion, according to the dictates of conscience; and that it is the mutual duty of all, to practice Christian forbearance, love, and charity towards each other,”—which said article is row in full force.
In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand, and
caused the seal of the Commonwealth to be affixed, at Richmond, this first day of June, in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and eighty-six, and tenth of the Commonwealth.
No. 17. Page 139.
From Richard Peters, Esq.
London, March 4, 1786. GENTLEMEN,
I yesterday waited on the archbishop of Canterbury, who received me with great politeness. I delivered the parcels you sent by me, but he had previously received the originals. He opened the conversation by saying, that on receipt of the address from the convention, which was conceived in terms that gave great satisfaction, the bishops had determined at once to comply with it, if the government would enable them, by passing a law for the purpose. But hearing a number of reports, which the committee had not put it in their power to clear up, by sending them all the proceedings of the convention, they thought it their duty to act cautiously, and restrained their desire to meet our wishes, till they had more full information on the subject. He said it was unnecessary to enter into the various reports of alterations said to be made, or intended by our Churches, for he did not give credit to cominon reports, which are often circulated without foundation. Some alterations, however, it appeared, had been made, and what the rest were, could not be told until the whole was laid before them. That some alterations were necessarily brought about by the change of circumstances, and were therefore proper, he allowed; but he hoped there would be found none which rendered our Church substantially different from theirs, of which he considered it as a branch, and the bishops were obliged to examine what Church ours was, before, from their source, they established an Episcopacy over a people, who might perhaps hold tenets opposite to theirs. He did not know or believe this was the case with respect to us, but it became them to inquire. Ile feared some of our business had been done hastily. He showed me the answer to the address, which he said had been sincerely felt by every bishop who had signed it. He seemed very desirous of removing any doubts about their firm intertions to comply with our wishes: showed me the original draft of the answer in his handwriting. I observed there were no alterations made in it, and among nineteen bishops, who were all that were in town at the meeting of parliament, there was not a dissenting voice. He hoped so unanimous an opinion, must evidence, beyond a doubt, the great desire all had to grant our request. They all, from the bottom of their hearts, wished our prosperity, and would do all in their power to promote it. But before they had the necessary information, it would be imprudent in them to act. lle said there would be no difficulties with government, and was happy that all embarrassments, with respect to the civil powers of the United States, were removed by the certificates and papers transmitted. He had spoke to the king, on the receipt of the address, who expressed great satisfaction in it, and was ready to do what was required of him. That administration would promote the law, when it was recommended by the bishops as proper. They therefore, being in a responsible situation, must proceed with caution. He desired nothing he had said, should be thought calculated to throw difficulties in the way; for there really was no disposition of that kind in the bishops, or members of the government. He hoped our convention, at the next meeting, would consider the embarrassments too many alterations would throw in the way of their application here, and if any of them substantially devialed from the doctrines or worship of this Church, it would frustrate the views of our Churches, by