From Evan Lewis
Wilmington (Del) 1st. Mo 8th. 1810
I have taken the liberty, of sending thee a copy of the annexed pamphlet1 as a tribute of respect for our chief-Magistrate in whose talents and integrity, I have placed unlimited confidence, and whose official conduct, in that highly important office has hitherto met my entire approbation, and in this expression of approbation in the measures pursued, or the steps taken by the present administration of the executive department of the general government, I speak, the almost unanimous voice of my fellow citizens of the borough in which I live.
Accept then, esteemed friend, this small production, as the effusions of a heart, which beats in unison with his countrey’s good:
At this critical period when the rage for incorporated societies of religeous professor[s] appears to have spread from Maryland to New-york, and Columbia, it appears requisite that the nature and tendency of such incorporations should be understood and examined, before they are adopted:
And I am well assured that the President of the United States will not put his signature to the bill now before the Senate “for incorporating religeous societies in the district of Columbia,” even if it should pass both houses of Congress, which I presume it will not.4
A knowledge of the judgment thou should form, of the merits of said production after perusing it, would be highly agreable and pleasing to thy friend, as well as the friend of our common countrey.
RC (DLC). Docketed by JM.
1. Cerus [William Baldwin], Observations on Infidelity, and the Religious and Political Systems of Europe, Compared with Those of the United States of America: Showing the Incompatibility of Religion with the Despotism of National Churches.… To Which Are Added the Essays of Amicus on the Maryland Church-Bill and Quaker’s Petition, &c. (Wilmington, Del., 1809; Shaw and Shoemaker description begins R. R. Shaw and R. H. Shoemaker, comps., American Bibliography: A Preliminary Checklist for 1801-1819 (22 vols. to date; New York, 1958-). description ends 17179). On Baldwin’s authorship of this pamphlet, see Joseph Ewan, introduction to Reliquiae Baldwinianae: Selections from the Correspondence of the Late William Baldwin, comp. William Darlington (1843; New York, 1969 reprint), pp. xiv–xv. Lewis apparently wrote the “Amicus” essays.
2. William Baldwin (1779–1819) received his M.D. from the University of Pennsylvania in 1807 and established a medical practice in Wilmington, Delaware. A botanist, he died in Missouri while accompanying Stephen Harriman Long’s expedition to the Rocky Mountains (ibid., pp. xiii–xxiv).
3. Baldwin explained that “these essays are now published principally with a view of having them extensively circulated among the society of Friends in the eastern part of the state of Pennsylvania, who have been too generally prejudiced against the late Administration, and whose prejudices still exist, against the present” (Baldwin to Jefferson, 7 Jan. 1810 [DLC: Jefferson Papers]; see also Jefferson to Baldwin, 19 Jan. 1810 [ibid.]).
4. On 3 Jan. the Senate amended and then postponed a “bill to incorporate religious societies in the District of Columbia.” During the next session JM vetoed bills incorporating an Episcopal church in Alexandria (then in the District of Columbia) and providing relief for a Baptist church in the Mississippi Territory (Annals of Congress description begins Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States ... (42 vols.; Washington, 1834-56). description ends , 11th Cong., 2d sess., 520–21; ibid., 11th Cong., 3d sess., 982–83, 1097–98).
5. Evan Lewis (1782–1834) was a Quaker antislavery pamphleteer. He published a Philadelphia monthly journal, The Friend; or, Advocate of Truth, 1832–33 (Walter M. Merrill et al., eds., The Letters of William Lloyd Garrison [6 vols.; Cambridge, Mass., 1971–81], 1:123 and n. 2).