George Washington Papers

To George Washington from John C. Ogden, 7 February 1794

From John C. Ogden

Dartmouth College [Hanover, N.H.] Feby 7th 1794.


The enclosed was sent to the press, in obedience to the wishes of many respectable characters, with an ardent hope, that it would expedite the attainment of justice, which the necessities of The Church and sufferings of her Clergy require.1

Determined to be absolved in the eyes of The Church and of Posterity, and to do what humanity to my brethren, and duty to my own family require I circulate it into the hands of my civil & ecclesiastical rulers.

This measure perhaps will prevent the necessity of presenting the public with a full state of facts and the mens names, who have designedly and artfully taken the advantage of war to enrich themselves, and indulge party spleen, by spoiling the Church. That every felicity may be your portion, is Sir, the ardent prayer of Your devoted servant

John C. Ogden

ALS, DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters.

1The enclosed newspaper clippings, addressed “For the Vermont Journal,” contain an essay by Ogden that was published in two parts by Spooners Vermont Journal (Windsor, Vt.), 27 Jan. and 3 Feb. 1794. In this essay, Ogden expounded upon the dire consequences that may afflict the United States as a result of the mistreatment of the Episcopal Church by local and state governments in New England. The essay begins: “While the effects of war and pestilence, those means by which the Almighty Governor of the universe punishes the wicked, are yet visible, and their painful consequences have involved a large part of the American States in sorrow—while an enemy, savage and fierce, harrass our frontiers, and many wish to bring us into a share with the wars of Europe; it may not be amiss to call the public attention to a subject, which always has been followed with misery to the guilty individual or nation.

“The pillage of property devoted to pious uses during the late revolution, and since the peace, in the States from ⟨one⟩ end of ⟨the countr⟩y to the other, particularly in the States of New Hampshire and Vermont, has not been viewed in that serious manner, which becomes a nation professing godliness. The odious enormity of this sin of sacrilege, and a dread in the pious to hear it even mentioned—the share which many leading characters have had in spoiling religion of its support, have caused a silence, which no one has been sufficiently firm to interrupt, so as to gain restitution.” Ogden then proceeded to give a summary of past misfortunes that followed similar acts of sacrilege, based on The History and Fate of Sacrilege Discover’d by Examples of Scripture, of Heathens, and of Christians; from the Beginning of the World Continually to This Day (London, 1698), by Sir Henry Spelman (1563/4–1641). For previous complaints from Ogden, see his letters to GW of 9 Jan. 1791 and 24 Nov. 1792.

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