Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from the New Jerusalem Church of Baltimore, 4 March 1801

From the New Jerusalem Church of Baltimore

Baltimore 4th: March 1801.


It is with singular pleasure and profound respect, that WE the Minister and Acting Committe of the New Jerusalem Church, in the City of Baltimore, beg leave to congratulate you, on your accession to the chief Magistracy of our beloved Country—A Country hitherto eminently favor’d by the Divine Providence with a peculiar degree of Civil and religious liberty.

The present sanguinary & turbulent aspect of the Eastern continent, is doubtless truly painful to every philantropic and disinterested lover of Mankind; But still, The Heavenly Doctrines of the “New Church” confirm us in the belief, that, “God rides on the Whirlwind, and directs the storm”!—and encourage us to anticipate, with indescribable sensations, an approaching period—“a consumation devoutly to be wish’d for,” when genuine charity, liberallity, and brotherly kindness, towards all who differ from us in mere opinions, shall become “The order of the day;”—When Theology, Philosophy, & Politics, shall, like “Gold seven times tried in the fire,” loose all their “dross and tin”;—and when Reason and Religion shall fully unite their sacred & all powerful influence, in promoting “Peace on Earth, & Goodwill among all men.”

With the most sincere & fervent prayers, That the LORD GOD of HOSTS may long preserve & keep you—& the nation over whom you now preside, from all EVIL;—and richly replenish your Will & Understanding with such divine affections & perceptions, as may eminently qualify you for the exalted & important station you are now call’d unto,

We remain Sir, with due respect Your’s &c. &c. in all duty—

John Hargrove, Minister
New Jerusalem Church
City of Baltimore

Sign’d per Order
George Higson } Acting Committe
of the New Church
John Boyer
John Kerr

RC (DLC); in Hargrove’s hand and signed by him; at head of text: “To Thomas Jefferson Esqr. President of the United States of America”; endorsed by TJ as received 5 Mch. and so recorded in SJL.


Ordained as a Methodist clergyman in 1795, John Hargrove (1750–1839) became a Swedenborgian minister three years later. For many years he served as pastor of the New Jerusalem Church in Baltimore and presided over the opening of the first Swedenborgian temple in the United States in January 1800. In August 1801 he began publishing The Temple of Truth: or A Vindication of Various Passages and Doctrines of the Holy Scriptures to refute the deistic arguments published in The Temple of Reason. Thirteen numbers of his periodical were published before it went out of existence in October 1801. During his first trip to Washington in December 1802, Hargrove delivered a sermon at the Capitol attended by the president. Two years later he again delivered a sermon before Congress. TJ had both sermons in his library (see Sowerby, description begins E. Millicent Sowerby, comp., Catalogue of the Library of Thomas Jefferson, Washington, D.C., 1952–59, 5 vols. description ends Nos. 1671–2). Since Swedenborgian ministers were not compensated, Hargrove had to seek other employment to support his wife and eight children. In 1801 and 1802 Arthur Campbell wrote Madison seeking a clerical position for him in one of the executive departments. By 1809 he was serving as registrar for the city of Baltimore (Hargrove, A Sermon, on the True Object and Nature of Christian Worship; Delivered at the Opening of the New Jerusalem Temple, in the City of Baltimore [Baltimore, 1800]; Hargrove, The Substance of a Sermon, on the Leading Doctrines of the New Jerusalem Church; Delivered the 26th December, 1802, before the President of the United States and Several Members of Congress [Baltimore, 1803], i-ii; Baltimore, Md., Summary of All the Monies Received and Paid by the Register, from February 1, 1809, to January 31, 1810, Inclusive [Baltimore, 1810], see Shaw-Shoemaker description begins Ralph R. Shaw and Richard H. Shoemaker, comps., American Bibliography: A Preliminary Checklist for 1801–1819, New York, 1958–63, 22 vols. description ends , No. 19411; Madison, Papers, Sec. of State Ser., 1:34–5, 2:419–20; Marguerite Beck Block, The New Church in the New World: A Study of Swedenborgianism in America [New York, 1932], 90–93; Ednah C. Silver, Sketches of the New Church in America [Boston, 1920], 40–46).

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