Adams Papers

To John Adams from John Jay, 1 November 1785

From John Jay

New York 1 Novr. 1785

Dear Sir

The enclosed Letter from President Lee to you (of the Subject and Contents of which I am informed) will explain to you the Design of the Letters and papers which accompany this.1

The one to the archbishops of York and Canterbury are left open for your Information; and that you may the more easily determine with yourself either to deliver it in Person, or merely to forward it by a proper Conveyance.2

The attention you manifested to the episcopalian church in the affair of Denmark, has much obliged the members of it, and induced them to hope for your further good offices.

The convention are not inclined to acknowledge or have any thing to do with Mr. Seabury—his own high Church Principles and the high Church Principles of those who ordained him, do not quadrate either with the political Principles of our Episcopalians in general, or with those on which our Revolution and Constitutions are founded.3 They wish therefore to have a Bishop to whom no objections of that kind can be made and that is the object of their present measures.

It will be much in your power to aid them in the attainment of it, and for my own part I think your friendly Interposition will neither disserve your Country nor yourself.

To me personally Bishops are of little Importance but as our civil affairs are now circumstanced I have no objections to gratifying those who wish to have them— I confess I do not like the Principles of the nonjurors, and I think the less Patronage such opinions meet with among us the better.

with great and sincere Esteem & Regard I am Dear Sir / Your Most obt. and hble Servt.

John Jay—4

RC and enclosures (Adams Papers); internal address: “The Honble John Adams Esqr. / Minister Ply: &c.”

1See Richard Henry Lee’s 24 Oct. letter, and note 1, above.

2This is the letter drafted by the recently concluded convention of the American Protestant Episcopal Church that JA presented at his 3 Jan. 1786 meeting with John Moore, archbishop of Canterbury, for which see Lee’s 24 Oct. 1785 letter, note 1, above.

3Samuel Seabury (1729–1796), Yale 1748, the first Episcopalian bishop in the United States, was ordained an Anglican deacon and priest in England in 1753. Returning to the colonies, he served congregations in New Jersey and New York and advocated for a bishop resident in America. His opposition to the Continental Congress and the Revolution led him to flee to New York City. Chosen bishop of Connecticut in March 1783 by a council of presbyters, he sailed for England to be consecrated, but the English bishops refused to do so because he had been selected by neither the state nor the laity of Connecticut, and because he could not swear the required oath of loyalty to George III. As a result Seabury went to Scotland in 1784 where he was consecrated by non-juring bishops on 14 Nov., and he returned to Connecticut in June 1785 (ANB description begins John A. Garraty, Mark C. Carnes, and Paul Betz, eds., American National Biography, New York, 1999–2002; 24 vols. plus supplement; rev. edn., description ends ).

4With a fourth letter of this date (Adams Papers), Jay enclosed a duplicate of Congress’ 14 Oct. resolution concerning compensation for C. W. F. Dumas (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 , 29:835). Although he did not mention it, Jay probably also included his own letter to Dumas transmitting the resolution for JA to forward. JA did so under cover of his [5] Jan. 1786 letter to Dumas (LbC dated 4 Jan., APM Reel 113).

Jay wrote again on 2 Nov. 1785 (Adams Papers), recommending Jean Antoine Houdon, who was about to sail for Europe. Houdon reached London in mid-December (AFC description begins Adams Family Correspondence, ed. L. H. Butterfield, Marc Friedlaender, Richard Alan Ryerson, Margaret A. Hogan, and others, Cambridge, 1963–. description ends , 6:496).

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