Adams Papers

John Adams to the president of Congress, 22 April 1784

To the President of Congress

The Hague April 22. 1784


I received Sometime Since a Letter from an American Gentleman now in London, a Candidate for Orders, desiring to know, if American Candidates might have Orders from Prostestant Bishops on the Continent, and complaining that he had been refused by the Bishop of London and the Archbishop of Canturbury, unless he would take the Oaths of Allegiance &c.1

Meeting Soon afterwards, the Danish Minister I had the Curiosity to enquire of him, whether Ordination might be had in Denmark. He answered me, that he knew not, but would Soon inform himself.— I heard no more of it, untill to day, when the Secretary of his Embassy Mr De Rosenkrantz, made me a Visit, and delivered me, the Papers Copies of which are inclosed.2

Thus it Seems that what I meant as current Conversation, only, has been made the Subject of Deliberation of the Government of Denmark, and their Faculty of Theology; which makes it necessary for me to transmit it to Congress.— I am happy to find the Decision so liberal.

I have the Honour to be, with very great / Respect, Sir, your Excellencys most / obedient and most humble / Servant

John Adams

RC and enclosures (PCC, No. 84, V, f. 285–297); internal address: “His Excellency / Thomas Mifflin Esqr / President of Congress”; endorsed: “Letter John Adams / 22 April 1784—” LbC (Adams Papers); APM Reel 107.

1See Mason Locke Weems’ letter of [ca. 27 Feb.] and JA’s reply of 3 March, both above.

2The two enclosures were copies of a 21 April letter from the Danish minister, Armand François Louis de Mestral de Saint Saphorin (Adams Papers), and its enclosure, a letter to the minister from the Baron Marcus Gerhard Rosencrone, the Danish minister of foreign affairs (PCC, No. 84, V, f. 289–294). Rosencrone indicated in his letter that the “faculté de Theologie” had determined that Weems could be ordained in Denmark and that, since the American did not know the Danish language, the ordination could be conducted in Latin. He further stated that the candidate’s required profession of faith would be conformable to the Church of England’s requirements but without the oath of allegiance to the king. JA wrote to Weems on 22 April, enclosing copies of the two letters, and at the same time wrote to Saint Saphorin, thanking him for his efforts and indicating that he was sending his 21 April letter and its enclosure to Congress (both LbC’s, APM Reel 107). Congress resolved on 21 March 1785 to send JA’s letter of 22 April 1784 and its enclosures to the states and indicated its appreciation for “the liberal decision made … respecting the Ordination of American Candidates for holy Orders in the episcopal Church, commonly called the Church of England” (JCC, description begins Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789, ed. Worthington Chauncey Ford, Gaillard Hunt, John C. Fitzpatrick, Roscoe R. Hill, and others, Washington, D.C., 1904–1937; 34 vols. description ends 28:187). The resolution was enclosed with John Jay’s letter of 31 March 1785, below. But see also JA’s letter to Joseph Palmer of 26 Aug. 1784, below.

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