To the Protestant Episcopal Church
[19 August 1789]
I sincerely thank you for your affectionate congratulations on my election to the chief magistracy of the United States.1
After having received from my fellow-citizens in general the most liberal treatment—after having found them disposed to contemplate in the most flattering point of view, the performance of my military services, and the manner of my retirement at the close of the war—I feel that I have a right to console myself in my present arduous undertakings, with a hope that they will still be inclined to put the most favorable construction on the motives which may influence me in my future public transactions. The satisfaction arising from the indulgent opinion entertained by the American People of my conduct, will, I trust, be some security for preventing me from doing any thing, which might justly incur the forfeiture of that opinion. And the consideration that human happiness and moral duty are inseparably connected, will always continue to prompt me to promote the progress of the former, by inculcating the practice of the latter.
On this occasion it would ill become me to conceal the joy I have felt in perceiving the fraternal affection which appears to encrease every day among the friends of genuine religion—It affords edifying prospects indeed to see Christians of different denominations dwell together in more charity, and conduct themselves in respect to each other with a more christian-like spirit than ever they have done in any former age, or in any other nation.
I receive with the greater satisfaction your congratulations on the establishment of the new constitution of government, because I believe its’ mild, yet efficient, operations will tend to remove every remaining apprehension of those with whose opinions it may not entirely coincide, as well as to confirm the hopes of its’ numerous friends; and because the moderation, patriotism, and wisdom of the present federal Legislature, seem to promise the restoration of Order, and our ancient virtues; the extension of genuine religion, and the consequent advancement of our respectability abroad, and of our substantial happiness at home.
I request most reverend and respected Gentlemen that you will accept my cordial thanks for your devout supplications to the Supreme Ruler of the Universe in behalf of me—May you, and the People whom you represent be the happy subjects of the divine benedictions both here and hereafter.
LB, DLC:GW. The date is taken from a typescript in the archives of the Episcopal Church. This address is headed: “To the Bishops, Clergy, and Laity of the Protestant Episcopal church in the States of New York, New-Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, and South Carolina, in general Convention assembled.” The convention, meeting in Philadelphia on 7 Aug., appointed a committee to deliver the address to GW in New York, which, according to an account in the New York Daily Advertiser, 21 Aug., was done “on Wednesday last.”
1. The convention’s address to GW was drafted by Tench Coxe. See Coxe to Madison, 20 Sept. 1789, in Rutland, Madison Papers, description begins William T. Hutchinson et al., eds. The Papers of James Madison, Congressional Series. 17 vols. Chicago and Charlottesville, Va., 1962–91. description ends 12:412–15. The address reads: “We the Bishops, the Clergy, and Laity of the Protestant Episcopal church in the States of New-York, New-Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, and South Carolina in general convention assembled, beg leave with the highest veneration, and the most animating national considerations, at the earliest moment in our power, to express our cordial joy on your election to the chief magistracy of the United States.
“When we contemplate the short but eventful history of our nation, when we recollect the series of essential services performed by you in the course of the revolution the temperate, yet efficient exertion of the mighty powers, with which the nature of the contest made it necessary to invest you, and especially when we remember the voluntary and magnanimous relinquishment of those high authorities at the moment of peace, we anticipate the happiness of our country under your future administration: But it was not alone from a successful and virtuous use of those extraordinary powers that you were called from your honorable retirement to the first dignities of our government. An affectionate admiration of your private character, the impartiality, the persevering fortitude, and the energy with which your public duties have been invariably performed, and the paternal solicitude for the happiness of the American people, together with the wisdom and consummate knowledge of our affairs, manifested in your last military communication, have directed to your name the universal wish, and have produced for the first time in the history of mankind, an example of unanimous consent in the appointment of the Governor of a free and enlightened Nation.
“To these considerations, inspiring us with the most pleasing expectations as private citizens, permit us to add that as the Representatives of a numerous and extended Church, we most thankfully rejoice in the election of a civil Ruler, deservedly beloved and eminently distinguished among the friends of genuine religion, who has happily united a tender regard for other churches with an inviolable attachment to his own.
“With unfeigned satisfaction we congratulate you on the establishment of the new Constitution of government for the United States, the mild yet efficient operations of which we confidently trust will remove every remaining apprehension of those with whose opinion it may not entirely coincide, and will confirm the hopes of it’s numerous friends—Nor do these expectations appear too sanguine, when the moderation, patriotism, and wisdom of the honorable members of the federal Legislature are duly considered.
“From a Body thus eminently qualified, harmoniously co-operating with the Executive authority in constitutional concert, we confidently hope for the restoration of Order, and our ancient virtues; the extension of genuine religion, and the consequent advancement of our respectability abroad, and of our substantial happiness at home.
“We devoutly implore the Supreme Ruler of the Universe to preserve you long in health and prosperity, an animating example of all public and private virtues—the friend and guardian of a free, enlightened, and grateful people—and that you may finally receive the reward, which will be given to those whose lives have been spent in promoting the happiness of mankind” (DLC:GW).