Papers of John Adams, volume 16

John Adams to William Carmichael, 22 April 1784 Adams, John Carmichael, William
To William Carmichael
Sir The Hague 22 April 1784

I have received the Letters you did me the Honour to write me from Madrid the 15. Jan. and the Feb.—1 I am very glad that Mr Barry and Mr Fitch are pleased with your Civilities to them: But I never knew any Thing of Mr Fitch’s Note, nor of the Watch, nor did I ever introduce either of them to you, with a Thought of their making you presents. and I agree with you that presents upon Such occasions, destroy all the Pleasure, We have in Shewing a Respect, to the Recommendations of our Friends.2


But I am in a Case, Somewhat like yours. I had shewn Mr Fitch Some Civilities in Holland and in Paris, which he not only returned with much Politeness in London but when he Sailed for Jamaica, left orders, with his Agent to send me a Present of choice old Madeira Wine and Jamaica Spirit.— I was sorry at the sight of it, but instead of sending it after him or refusing to receive it I comforted my Heart with a few Bottles of it, while I Staid and gave the rest to a Friend or two, when I came away. and I advise you to follow the Same Example, and keep the Watch untill you see Mr Fitch or give it away to a Friend. never trouble your head to send him any equivalent. rather send him back the Watch itself. But I dont think that is worth while.

Fitch is a West Indian, generous and rich and has but one Child. I dont imagine he meant any Thing improper, or thought that what he did was amiss. if he did, you will see to it, that it does no harm.

The Idea of following the Swiss Example, in having no Ministers at foreign Courts, Seems to prevail in America, but I dont believe there is any Foundation for the Insinuation, that the Americans have any Aversion for the Spanish Nation. On the Contrary, there is a kind of Grandeur and Honour in the Spanish Character, which should be a foundation of Esteem and Admiration.

I am Still as uninformed as you, respecting the Intentions of Congress, in many material Points: But it will be a sufficient Excuse, for Us to make, when We do no service, to have it to say that We have no Power. for my own part, Since the Peace, I have dismissed my Anxiety, and am determined to be happy. our Country will be so if she deserves it: if not, our solicitude cannot make her so.

LbC (Adams Papers); internal address: “Mr Charmichael.”; APM Reel 107.


For the 15 Jan. letter, see vol. 15:456–458. Carmichael, informed that JA was again in the Netherlands and concerned that his 15 Jan. letter had miscarried, enclosed a copy of it with his undated February letter (Adams Papers). That letter and its enclosure were entrusted to a “Mr. Barry,” who had carried an earlier letter from JA to Carmichael at Madrid (vol. 15:161–162).


For Eliphalet Fitch, JA’s 2d cousin and receiver general of Jamaica, see vol. 15:151. For Carmichael’s discomfort over Fitch’s gift of a valuable watch for Carmichael’s civilities to him, see the letter of 15 January.

John Adams to the president of Congress, 22 April 1784 Adams, John President of Congress
To the President of Congress
Sir The Hague April 22. 1784

I received Sometime Since a Letter from an American Gentleman now in London, a Candidate for Orders, desiring to know, if American Candidates might have Orders from Prostestant Bishops on the 174 Continent, and complaining that he had been refused by the Bishop of London and the Archbishop of Canturbury, unless he would take the Oaths of Allegiance &c.1

Meeting Soon afterwards, the Danish Minister I had the Curiosity to enquire of him, whether Ordination might be had in Denmark. He answered me, that he knew not, but would Soon inform himself.— I heard no more of it, untill to day, when the Secretary of his Embassy Mr De Rosenkrantz, made me a Visit, and delivered me, the Papers Copies of which are inclosed.2

Thus it Seems that what I meant as current Conversation, only, has been made the Subject of Deliberation of the Government of Denmark, and their Faculty of Theology; which makes it necessary for me to transmit it to Congress.— I am happy to find the Decision so liberal.

I have the Honour to be, with very great / Respect, Sir, your Excellencys most / obedient and most humble / Servant

John Adams

RC and enclosures (PCC, No. 84, V, f. 285–297); internal address: “His Excellency / Thomas Mifflin Esqr / President of Congress”; endorsed: “Letter John Adams / 22 April 1784—” LbC (Adams Papers); APM Reel 107.


See Mason Locke Weems’ letter of [ca. 27 Feb.] and JA’s reply of 3 March, both above.


The two enclosures were copies of a 21 April letter from the Danish minister, Armand François Louis de Mestral de Saint Saphorin (Adams Papers), and its enclosure, a letter to the minister from the Baron Marcus Gerhard Rosencrone, the Danish minister of foreign affairs (PCC, No. 84, V, f. 289–294). Rosencrone indicated in his letter that the “faculté de Theologie” had determined that Weems could be ordained in Denmark and that, since the American did not know the Danish language, the ordination could be conducted in Latin. He further stated that the candidate’s required profession of faith would be conformable to the Church of England’s requirements but without the oath of allegiance to the king. JA wrote to Weems on 22 April, enclosing copies of the two letters, and at the same time wrote to Saint Saphorin, thanking him for his efforts and indicating that he was sending his 21 April letter and its enclosure to Congress (both LbC’s, APM Reel 107). Congress resolved on 21 March 1785 to send JA’s letter of 22 April 1784 and its enclosures to the states and indicated its appreciation for “the liberal decision made … respecting the Ordination of American Candidates for holy Orders in the episcopal Church, commonly called the Church of England” ( JCC , 28:187). The resolution was enclosed with John Jay’s letter of 31 March 1785, below. But see also JA’s letter to Joseph Palmer of 26 Aug. 1784, below.