George Washington Papers

From George Washington to the Moravian Society for Propagating the Gospel, 15 August 1789

To the Moravian Society for Propagating the Gospel

[New York, c.15 August 1789]


I receive with satisfaction the congratulations of your Society and of the Brethren’s Congregations in the United States of America.1 For you may be persuaded that the approbation and good wishes of such a peaceable and virtuous Community cannot be indifferent to me.

You will also be pleased to accept my thanks for the Treatise which you presented; and to be assured of my patronage in your laudable undertakings.

In proportion as the general Government of the United States shall acquire strength by duration, it is probable they may have it in their power to extend a salutary influence to the Aborigines in the extremities of their Territory. In the meantime, it will be a desirable thing for the protection of the Union to co-operate, as far as the circumstances may conveniently admit, with the disinterested endeavours of your society to civilize and Christianize the Savages of the Wilderness. Under these impressions, I pray Almighty God to have you always in his holy keeping.2

Go: Washington


1The address of the Moravian Church, dated 10 July 1789 from Bethlehem, Pa., and signed by John Andrew Hubner, Hans Christian Schweiniz, Frederick Peter, Charles Gotthold Reichel, Paul Minster, and David Zeisberger, Jr., reads: “The Directors of the Society of the United Brethren for propagating the Gospel among the Heathen do in the name of this Society, and in the name of all the Brethren’s Congregations in these United States most cordially congratulate you on your being appointed President of the United States of America.

“Filled with gratitude towards God and our Saviour, unto whose goodness and kind interposition we ascribe this great and joyous event, we rely on his mercy, and on the influence of his good spirit, when we expect that your administration will prove salutary and a blessing to that Nation, whose unanimous voice has called you to preside over it.

“We embrace this opportunity to present you a small treatise which contains ‘an account of the manner, in which the Protestant church of the Unitas Fratrum, or united Brethren preach the gospel and carry on their missions among the Heathen.’ You will be pleased, Sir, to accept it as a token of our affection and reverence, and of the confidence we repose in you to patronize all undertakings for propagating Christianity among the Heathen.

“Permit us, at the same time to recommend in a particular manner the Brethrens mission among the Indians in the territory of the United States, which is at present at Petquotting on Lake Erie and in a very dangerous situation, to your kind notice and protection, and to lay before you the ardent wish and anxious desire of seeing the light of the glorious Gospel spread more and more over this country, and great multitudes of poor benighted Heathen brought by it to the saving knowledge of Christ our Saviour, who gave himself a ransom for all, and who will have all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

“We fervently pray the Lord to strengthen your health, to support you daily by his divine assistance and to be himself your shield and great reward” (DLC:GW).

2Tobias Lear wrote Clement Biddle, 17 Aug. that “the President will thank you to forward the inclosed to Bethlehem by the first safe conveyance that offers; it is an answer to an address presented to him some time since, and he has had no direct opportunity of returning the answer from this place. He likewise requests that you would procure and send to Mount Vernon as soon as you can, twenty bushels of good winter Barley for seed; he wishes you would procure it from some good reputable farmer who will warrant the quality, as he has been much deceived in some seed Barley which he received from Rhode Island. Mrs Washington will be obliged to you to get from Mr Hazlehurst the bill of some chintz which he sent to her by Mr Morris, which bill you will be so good as to pay & charge to the Acct of the President; she will also thank you to add another prayer book to the two which I requested you to get for her” (PHi: Washington-Biddle Correspondence). Biddle replied on 19 Aug. that he had delivered GW’s reply to the Moravian society’s address into the hands of the minister of the Moravian church. “I shall have an Opportunity this week,” he wrote, “of making Enquiry in the Country of some reputable Farmers for the winter Barley & shall be Careful to ship it in time” (PHi: Clement Biddle Letter Book).

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