Project Canterbury



















In a country so new as ours, it has been thought there was nothing to pay the antiquarian for his researches, but this is a mistake. Among a people growing so rapidly as we are, events crowd on each other in such a manner, that in a few years many important things are forgotten by those engaged in the bustle of life. From our monuments there is not much to be gathered. The grave stones of our fathers tell only where their ashes lie, with the dates of their birth and death. From our parish records something may be gleaned. The history of their religious societies was general accurately written. Much may be found in our early history in occasional sermons, and the best of our biography is to be traced to funeral discourses made when a village patriot died. No one can write American history with accuracy without being deeply read in the ancient lore found in old sermons, almanacks and magazines. In the worm-eaten pages of these thrown-aside volumes, many curious relicks of former days may be picked up.

The writer was led to this course of reasoning in looking over an old volume, which by the dilapidations of time has neither title page nor finis, and only a running title, "The Rural Magazine, or Vermont Repository," he found among other curious matter, a correspondence between the hon. John A. Graham, the agent for the Episcopal Church in the state of Vermont, and his grace the Archbishop of Canterbury. This agent who carried on this correspondence with the archbishop, is our venerable citizen, John A. Graham, L. L. D. who seems to have lost none of his courtly demeanor by age. The correspondence on his part, the reader will find ably conducted; and his answers to the objections raised by the primate against the prayer of the petition, contains all the adroitness of special pleading, which brought the dignitary, on the sur-rebutter to an avowal that he thought it impolitick.

Dr. Samuel Peters, bishop elect of Vermont in 1794, was a descendant [3/4] of a brother of Hugh Peters, who was active in the trial and execution of Charles I. and who on the restoration of Charles II. was executed as one of the Regicides. Hugh was a man of talent; he is highly praised in Bentley's history of Salem, who speaks of Peters as a clergyman in that town for five years, and who by his wisdom caused the people to flourish in commerce and the arts beyond all who went before him. He knew how to unite spiritual with temporal things. Samuel, while residing as a clergyman in Connecticut, wrote a history of the state, or rather of the region round about his residence, filled with quaint sayings and queer stories.

In 1807 he published a life of Hugh Peters, which bears marks of the peculiar style of the author. It contains many sketches of ancient families in the country, which are interesting to the general reader, and which must be more so to the descendants of those he mentions. Among others on whom he bestows high commendation are the Grahams, the Wards, the Clintons and others, in various parts of the country. Dr. Peters died in extreme old age in the city of New York, since the last war with Great Britain, and his remains were taken to his native state, Connecticut, for interment.

On enquiring, I was informed that this old magazine, which had wandered from the interior by accident to my hands, was edited by no less a scholar than professor Williams, who had at that time retired from professional duties to the wilds of Vermont, to philosophize on the formation and progress of social compacts, in a new community; and the world are indebted to him for many sage remarks in his history of Vermont.

Colonel Graham has been extensively known in England as well as in his native land; but these notices have been so general, that the writer proposes to sketch a few particulars of his life.

John A. Graham was born on the 10 of June, 1764, in the beautiful vale of Southbury, on the Housatonuck river, in the township of Woodbury, in the state of Connectictut. He is the son of Dr. Andrew Graham, a medical gentleman, eminent in his profession, and for many years a representative in the legislature. He was one of the committee of safety, in the perilous period of 1775, and onward, when committees held legislative, judicial and executive powers. These were times which not only tried mens souls, but their understandings and generosity also, for every one had to bring into a common stock all the wealth, intellect, and corporeal strength he had, [4/5] and fear no sacrifice in the discharge of his duty. The grandfather of colonel Graham, the Rev. John Graham, was a descendant of one of the Marquisses of Montrose, and after receiving his education at the University of Glasgow, came to America in 1720, to preach the gospel of glad tidings to the Indians, but soon found it better to preach to civilized men, and accepted an invitation to settle in the parish of Southbury, where he lived in his holy vocation for many years, and dying, left behind him a name full of the odour of sanctity, and a numerous posterity, inheritors of that best of all patrimonies, an ancestor's worth.

Colonel Graham was educated under the Rev. Jehu Minor, an excellent classical scholar, until the year 1781, when he entered the office of Edward Hinman, Esq. a lawyer of eminence, and continued with him until the death of his father, in 1785. The calamities of war long continued, and the depreciation of the continental currency had put nearly all the people on a level. The agrarian law had virtually passed, and all men had to commence the world anew in this country. Enterprise was the order of the day, and the young lawyer started for Vermont to commence the practice of his profession, and put up his sign in Rutland, a shire town on Otter Creek, in that state. This was indeed a new country and a new people. Some had come to Vermont from a desire to increase their fortunes by speculation in lands; others to escape from oppressive laws which bore heavy on the unfortunate in the older portions of New England. They were an industrious, hardy, bold and ambitious race of men; and the forest fell beneath their axe; and rich and noble farms arose by the magic wand of industry and hardihood. These settlers had brought to this new country the love of the law, an ingredient in the very element of a New Englander, and they sowed a crop of lawsuits at every seed time, and reaped it as regularly as they did their wheat harvest. This place had attractions for col. Graham; he was courteous, fluent, and not easily intimidated, and moved among this new people as an arbiter elegantiarum, in and out of court. He practised in the Court of Common Pleas, where most of the business was done, until 1790, when he was called to the bar of the Supreme Court of the State. In June, 1792, judge Jay, Chief Justice of the United States, held a Circuit Court for the district of Vermont, at Bennington. This was the first time that the Vermonters had seen a United States court, for they had come reluctantly into the union; [5/6] their love of independence for a while obscured their understandings, and they thought to live a people by themselves; but this they found would cost more than it was worth, and they came into the federal compact, and found their advantage in it; their lands arose in value their credit assumed a new basis, and the character of the people became more refined. Judge Jay organized his court in due, and solemn form, to lay its foundation deep in the respect and reverence of the people. He admitted to practice in his court, as attorneys and counsellers, such as had practised with reputation in the highest courts of the state.

The personal appearance of the great patriot and judge, when he look his seat in court with the robes of office, will not soon be forgotten by any one of the Vermonters who witnessed the scene. It vas, indeed, a great moral spectacle. Not fifteen years had elapsed since in the very neighborhood of the court house a signal victory had been obtained over European troops, drilled to all the niceties of discipline, by a corps of raw militia, under a rude but gallant leader and now the ermine and scarlet of justice, the growth of five hundred years in the mother country, was, exhibited to these new men of the, mountains, and by them treated with all respectful ceremony and obedience. There is an intuitive principle in freemen which seizes the right and eschews the wrong.

In 1794, Governor Chittenden made Mr. Graham his aid-de-camp with the rank of lieutenant-colonel commandant. In a new country, there is no more ready road to distinction than through the militia. In a republic a man must be seen by his fellow citizens to rise in civil or political life. Vermont, too, was on the borders of Canada--treacherous ground, and which had been so for more than an hundred years to New Englanders. The Vermont policy was to arm and prepare for exigencies, believing, always, that he who wears. a sword is not so liable to insult as he who trusts to beaver and drab to turn away the wrath of man.

In 1794, the Episcopal church in Vermont appointed colonel Graham their special agent to the court of London, and to the Society for Propagating the Gospel in Foreign Parts. Colonel Graham left his business and his political prospects, which were then second to no young man's in the state, influenced by a belief that he could do some good in getting the Episcopal church placed on such a firm foundation in Vermont as would do much in checking the wasting [6/7] conflagration of fanaticism, which was then lighting her fires in every part of the country, and which were likely to run with wild intensity through the newly settled portions of it. The difficulties which attended his course of duty, and the manner and the spirit with which they were met, are exemplified in the correspondence and reports from the records of the mission. Colonel Graham returned to Vermont in October, 1795, and shortly afterwards sailed a second time for England. While there he was a careful spectator of all that was going on, and made some shrewd suggestions to the ministry on uniting the St. Lawrence with Lake Champlain, by a canal for the mutual advantage of Vermont and Canada, and ultimately for London itself; but the old wounds were only cicatrized, not healed, and the British politicians thought it would not do to go with a spade or a ploughshare where they found it difficult to use a sword and a spear.

While in England, colonel Graham received an honorary degree of Doctor of Laws from the Royal College of Aberdeen. The state of Vermont was only known by name to the greater part of the British nation; in truth it was so in regard to most of the other states of the Union, and Dr. Graham took up his pen to give a history of the new State, as it was called by the good people of the others.

The elements of the history of Vermont were scanty in 1797, when a "DESCRIPTIVE SKETCH" of it was given by Dr. Graham. The face of the country, its forests, its minerals, mountains and lakes, with its patches of cultivation, and its incipient forms of civil society, with a few pleasant anecdotes, were all he had to form his book from. He has adorned it, however, with brief and graphic sketches of biography which will increase in interest with every passing year. They will, in some future day, be adverted to as little, precious gems when the American biographer shall be making up his Plutarch.

This work, "A DESCRIPTIVE SKETCH," was dedicated to the Duke of Montrose, the head of the Graham family, which was received very kindly by his Grace. Dr. Graham was married in London on his second visit, and lived there several years, when he returned to this country, and after residing in other places for a short time, settled in the city of New York, in the practice of the law: His manner was peculiarly suited to the defence of persons accused of crime; ready to seize all chances of defence, and to urge every favorable view with pathos and eloquence, he was the most popular [7/8] advocate in the Sessions that had been seen there. On good terms with the Court, he made himself popular with the jury, and of course was more successful than others in his defences. There is a speech of his on the impropriety of examining in private, a person brought before a magistrate, charged with crime, and then making use of that examination as evidence on his trial. He published the argument, and the doctrines he laid down in favor of human life and liberty were responded to by the most respectable lawyers in every part of the country. Adams, Jefferson, Marshall, Colden, Johnson, Emmet, Ogden, Spencer, Kent, Jay, Anthon, and many others, in and out of the profession, wrote to the doctor on receiving his speech, and commended the doctrine, talents, and eloquence of his argument.

In 1828, Dr. Graham wrote and published an elaborate essay on the subject of the Letters of Junius; claiming for his friend, John Horne Took, the authorship of these celebrated productions: how far the doctor has succeeded in his hypothesis, he has left the reader to judge. This work he dedicated to Chief Justice Spenser, between whom and the doctor there has been a long and close friendship.

About the time the doctor published his essay on Junius' Letters, he took leave of the bar, and has not since resumed his professional labor. The practice of the law, which gives readiness and acuteness to the mind, and is agreeable to the feelings and habits of youth and middle life, becomes troublesome and oppressive as the advocate advances in years, and he who is wise, will leave the bustle of the court, and the sharp retort at the bar, if he can, without infringing upon his duties to his family, before he has passed his grand climacteric. The doctor has lived to see his sons well educated, and settled in life under the most happy auspices;--one, a naval officer, who bears the scars of honorable wounds, received in the service of his country; the other, a lawyer of distinction at the New York bar. Retired from the turmoil of business, he enjoys in the bosom of his family the true "otium cum dignitate," watching with more than parental care, if possible, the mental and corporeal growth of his grandchildren, who reciprocate his affection, and study to gratify his hopes and his pride in their improvements.

In this world of ever changing seasons, the Indian summer, when the ponds are full, when the mast has fallen, the migratory bird has received from a kind nature all his plumage for his flight, and still [8/9] the sun continues day after day, to shine brightly on the mountaintops and the moon beams to sleep on the on the surface of the lake, is the sweetest portion of the year to the husbandman; there is no hurry or bustle then; his work is done up; he sympathizes with all around him; the lingering wild flower, the scattered berries hanging on leafless stems, the larger leaf gently falling to its resting place, all, send a calm philosophy to his heart, so in the Indian summer of life, man having labored in the heat and burden of seed time and harvest, calmly surveys the past and draws pleasure from the reminiscences that come crowding on his mind from every path which has been trodden, and from every incident of by-gone days; and while penetrated with gratitude to his Maker for what he has enjoyed, he sees in images of light, hope and faith, beckoning him to fearlessly cross the Jordan, which all must pass.

The Dr. has learned that most important lesson which the philosophers of old so strongly recommended and carefully studied, to give old age dignity and grace. He indulges in no murmuring propensities or pitiful irritations which so often disturb the latter days of our existence, but cherishes with assiduity the best feelings of his nature. He retains his former friendships, and keeps his mind susceptible of new impressions. He understands the spirit of that maxim which is the life-preserver of friendship, "Amici vitium, ni feras prodis tuum." Instead of thinking himself privileged to complain, because he has lived beyond three score years and ten, he studies to cultivate complacency and equanimity, those twin virtues, so lovely in old age.

Dr. Graham shuns all party feuds and religious controversies, those enemies to social happiness in every stage of life, and above all has no envious feelings on account of the prosperity of others--wiser in the government of his passions than Seneca the moralist, he never attempted to detract from the fame of others by attributing their renown to accident, as the philosopher did, when he wrote "cicuta magnum Socratem fecit; Catonia gladium assertorem libertatis extorque magnam partem dextraxeris gloriae."

The present times produce more contented old men than former ages, particularly in this country, for it was a common habit to mourn for the degeneracy of new races of men, and to sigh for pristine manners and virtues. Our wise republican old men know that this is worse than idle, for if some few things pass away which are to be [9/10] regreted, the age has been improving and still improves. Justice is as certain, and knowledge more common than it was among our fathers, and those arts which add comfort and pleasure to existence have increased most rapidly within the last half century with us.

It must give the aged patriot the highest pleasure to look back to the days of his childhood, and to trace the rise and progress of our national happiness, and glory. One of seventy years of age can remember when our country had but little more than two millions of inhabitants and those were scattered through a long chain of colonies hardly acquainted with each other. He can trace the changes from dependence to freedom and power; has seen the wealth of the country increase tenfold more rapidly than the population, and knowledge in proportion to the wealth. At the birth of Dr. Graham the navy of all the colonies was only a few armed sloops and schooners. The artillery of the country did not amount to the number of twenty well mounted cannon. The number of literary and scientific institutions were not a tythe of what they now are, and the periodical vehicles of knowledge did not amount to much more than a hundredth part of the present swarm which now cover the land. These subjects the Dr. dwells upon with his philosophical visitors, and learned friends, many of whom seek his pleasant society, sure, at all times of finding a cordial welcome at his hospitable mansion.

The prosperity of a country gives a relish and a value to life be yond its common worth in days of revolutionary conflict and nations al calamity, when the sword is suspended over every head, and there is no certainty that grey hairs are a security against violence, or that the aged Will go down to the grave in peace. Our fathers, after the labors of the day, can sit under their own vines and their fig trees, having none to molest or to make afraid. The once fell and terrific foe that came down upon the defenceless, young and old, and fired their dwellings at midnight, and spread death and destruction through our villages and towns, are as silent as the mounds that contain the bones; and the war-whoop and the scalping knife are now only visionary terrors; the European foe are but little to be feared; our powers of defence are equal to our protection. No patriot with "thick coming fancies" now utters the cry of "Oh! my country!" as he expires, but filled with prophetic hopes of the future prospects of his native land, until his senses ache with the inspiration, breathes the prayer of the seer

[11] "Visions of glory spare my aching sight,
Ye unborn ages crowd not on my soul!"

General reasoning upon these subjects, connected with the happy state of our country, might detain us long, and profitably, for we are all growing old; but we will come back to the subject of our notice, for while we have been moralizing upon old age, he would have forgotten that he was in our mind, if something of his aristocratic friend, the gout, had not reminded him that his seventy-first winter was approximating.

With philosophical composure and christian patience he moves onward, ready when called upon by his God to pay the great debt we all owe to nature, to wrap his cloak around him and take his last rest; but may that day be far distant, for an old man growing milder and happier as he advances on the journey of life, whose enmities have become placable and whose friendships kindle up with new ardor, is a lovely spectacle, and one which we cannot part with without deep regret; when he must fall asleep let it be said

"Full of years and honors, through the gate
Of painless slumber he retired.
As a river pure
Meets in his course a subterraneous void,
Then dips his silver head, again to rise,
And rising glides through fields and meadows new;
So hath Oileus in those happy climes,
Where neither gloom nor sorrow shades the mind;
Where joys ne'er fade, nor the soul's power decay;
But youth and spring, eternal bloom."

Proceedings of the PROTESTANT EPISCOPAL CHURCH of the State of VERMONT.


THESE certify that the honorable committee of the Episcopalian convention of the state of Vermont have nominated, constituted, and appointed John A. Graham, Esq. counsellor at law, of Rutland, in said state, their agent and attorney to Great Britain, to apply to the society known by the appellation of The Society for propagating the Gospel in Foreign Parts, and to treat with them relative to their lands lying in the said state of Vermont ; and in general to negotiate and transact such business in the premises, as he, in his wisdom, shall think proper, and for the benefit of the Episcopal churches in the said state: Credit and good faith is therefore requested to be given to him accordingly.

Given under my hand and seal, at Rutland, this fifteenth day of October; in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and ninety four.

DANIEL BARBER, Sec'ry of Convention of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the State of Vermont.

By his excellency the Governor of the State of Vermont.

To all who shall see these Presents.


THESE certify, that Daniel Barber, signer of the within certificate; is secretary to the convention of the episcopal church in this state. In testimony whereof, we have caused the seal of this state to be affixed, this 16th day of October, Anno Domini 1794.


By the Governor,

.JOSEPH FAY, Sec'ry.

[13] Westminster, Feb. 4, 1795.

Reverend Sir,

THE committee of the Episcopalian convention of the state of Vermont, having, by their letter of attorney, properly authenticated, appointed the subscriber their agent and attorney to apply to the Society for propagating the Gospel in Foreign Parts, and to treat with them relative to their lands lying in the said state of Vermont, and to negotiate and transact such business in the premises, as shall be thought proper, for the benefit of the Episcopal churches in the said state; he embraces the earliest opportunity of making the following communication, which he requests may be laid before the society.

About thirty years ago, while the district of country now known by the name of the State of Vermont was a part of the British colony of New Hampshire, Benning Wentworth, Esq. then governor of the said colony of New Hampshire, in the grants which he made of townships of land in the district of country aforesaid, by authority derived from his present majesty, reserved to the society aforesaid, certain portions of land, in each town, for the purpose of supporting the church of England in the then colony of New Hampshire.

In consequence of the political events which have taken place between that country and this, and the lapse of time since the society's title commenced, a powerful party has been formed in the legislature of the state, with professed views to defeat the title derived under the original grant.

As the society have adopted no measures, during the long time which has elapsed, to occupy and improve the lands, the Episcopalian convention, and indeed all friends to the church of England in that country, are under strong apprehensions that the profits of these lands, will be lost to the society, and diverted to other purposes, unless immediate measures are taken to prevent it.

The undersigned agent will take the liberty of stating, for the consideration of the society, the mode of procedure, which the convention, for whom he has the honor to act, conceived would be most conducive to the interests of the church of England in the state of Vermont, under the existing circumstances.

First--The society to release and quit claim to the undersigned agent Dr. Peters, the bishop elect, and William Hull, Esq. of Newton, in the state of Massachusetts, all their right and title to the lands [13/14] aforesaid, to the use and for the support of the Episcopal churches in the said state of Vermont.

Secondly--The society to execute a power of attorney to the trustees aforesaid, to prosecute and defend all suits in the name of the society, which may be instituted, relative to their lands. The, trustees likewise to be authorised to make any compromise with the state of Vermont, or any individuals, respecting the same. And if .any compromise should be deemed necessary, and it should be thought requisite to relinquish any part of the lands to the state, or to any individuals who have improved or possessed them; an authority to be given to the trustees, to release to the state, or to individuals, all the society's title to such part as shall be thus relinquished, for the purpose of obtaining an indisputable title to the residue. The trustees likewise to be authorised to sell absolutely such part of the lands as may be necessary to defray the expenses of suits, &c., unless the society should devise some other mode of defraying the expenses. In case the former mode should be adopted, the trustees to indemnify the society against any cost, charge or expense which May arise, either by prosecuting or defending suits, or by their services on the premises.


To DR. MORICE, Secretary to the Society for propagating the Gospel in Foreign Parts.

Gower Street, No. 53, Feb. 21, 1795.


I DID not fail to communicate to the society, at their anniversary yesterday, the application you left with me in writing, for their relinquishing all their right and title which they may have to certain lands in the state of Vermont. But as there was much other necessary business, which took up their whole time, the discussion of that business was postponed to their next meeting in March.

I am Sir,

Your respectful

Humble Servant,


Col. John Graham.

[15] Dr. Morice's compliments to Col. Graham, and acquaints him, that he laid his papers before the society, at their meeting on Friday last, and that the resolution of the society was not to comply with the proposals respecting the lands in Vermont.

Gower Street, March 23, 1795.

To the most reverend Father in God, John, Lord Archbishop of Canterbury, and Metropolitan of all England.

May it please your Grace:

THE convention of the Episcopal church in the state of Vermont, have elected the Rev. Dr. Samuel Peters, of London, to the office of bishop, and hereby request that he may be commissioned and duly authorised to discharge all the duties of that sacred function among us.

When we consider the dignity of the station, and its, important uses, we are deeply impressed with the nature of the business. We have now undertaken to add another to the number of the apostolic order. In this election, we have sought a gentleman whom we view as worthy of the place, in whose piety, learning and abilities we do confide; and have endeavored to conduct his election with all that prudence, caution and candour, which become us.

The benevolent provision made by act of parliament for furnishing the states with the succession of the apostolic order, and the indulgent attention of the archbishops and bishops in consequence, to the appointments already made by the conventions of the churches in the other states,--leads us to hope for a continuance of their goodness. As much loss of time may be prevented if Dr. Peters receives consecration in England, we hope to be indulged in this request, which will be the more acceptable to us, as it will afford us an opportunity of expressing our affectionate attachment to the church clergy of England, and enjoying an additional instance of their continued attachment and regard to the prosperity of the church in these states, which descended from England, and by her long continued cares has been cherished to respectability.

[16] We are, with all due veneration, your Grace's most devoted and obedient servants,

(Signed) ELEAZER BALDWIN, President.

By order of the Convention.


Dated at Rutland, Oct. 15, 1794.

James Nichols,
Bethuel Chittenden,
John C. Ogden,
Ebenezer Marvin,
Truman Squier. Committees.

A true copy of the doings of the convention, holden at Manchester, February the 27th day, Anno Domini 1794.



To the most reverend Father in God, John, Lord Archbishop of Canterbury, and Metropolitan of All England.

May it please your Grace.

We are informed our former credentials, praying for the consecration of the Rev. Mr. Samuel Peters, to the office of bishop, had the misfortune to miscarry, going to London:--We trust and hope this will be our apology for troubling your Grace with the copies of what was formerly recommended and forwarded.

The Hon. John Graham will wait on your Grace, with these papers, by the leave of Providence. We beg leave to inform you Grace, that Col. Graham is a gentleman of respect in the states, and whose friendship is of importance to the church.

We are, may it please your Grace, your Grace's most devoted humble servants,

James Nichols,
Daniel Barber,
Ebenezer Marvin,
Truman Squier.

Rutland, October 14, 1794.

[17] By his Excellency, Thomas Chittenden, esq., Governor, Captain General, and Commander in Chief in and over the state of Vermont.

To all who shall see these Presents


KNOW YE, That Eleazer Baldwin, who has signed the within record, is president of the convention of the Episcopal Church in the state of Vermont, and that Daniel Barber is secretary, and that James Nichols, Bethuel Chittenden, John C. Ogden, and Russell Cattin, are clerks, and Ebenezer Marvin and Truman Squier, gentlemen and laymen, are a standing committee of the said church.--In testimony whereof, I have hereunto caused the seal of the state to be affixed in council, at the council chamber at Rutland, this 14th day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and ninety-four, and in the nineteenth year of the independence of this and the United States of America.


By the Governor,

No. 340 Strand, Feb. 14, 1795.

My Lord,

HAVING arrived in London as agent of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the state of Vermont, in America, I am requested to wait on the Rev. Dr. Samuel Peters, bishop elect of Vermont, for his consecration by the archbishop of Canterbury and other bishops in England. I therefore take the earliest opportunity to acquaint your Grace of my arrival; and pray your Grace to appoint a time when I shall have the honor to lay before your Grace the documents and papers to me entrusted for that purpose.

I have the honor to be with every sentiment of respect, my Lord your Grace's most obedient and most humble servant.


His Grace the Lord Archbishop of Canterbury.

No. 340 Strand, Feb. 23, 1795.

My Lord,

I HAD the honor to write you on the 14th inst respecting some part of the business of my mission from the Protestant Episcopal [17/18] church, in the state of Vermont, in America, praying your Lordship to appoint a time when I should have the honor to lay before you the documents and papers entrusted to my charge, for the consecration of the Rev. Dr. Samuel Peters, bishop elect for that state.

I humbly implore your Lordship's pardon, for addressing you the second time so soon on the subject. As I was requested to lay them before your Grace, for the purposes aforesaid, and not having the honor to hear from your Grace, conscience to the trust in me reposed by the church bids me solicit your Grace again in the premises.

The necessity of my business urges me to leave London, for America, by the first of April. Knowing the honor that will redound to our infant state and church, in having Dr. Peters consecrated by your Grace and the lord bishops of England, in preference to any other part of the world--the church in the state of Vermont hope and pray, that your. Grace will gratify them in their desire. And, as in duty bound, will ever pray.


His Grace the Lord archbishop of Canterbury.

Lambeth Palace, Feb. 24, 1795.


I HAVE been favored with your letters of the 14th and 23d inst. and am sorry I have not been sooner able to name a time for the interview which you do me the honor to desire. I can now reserve the hour between eleven and twelve on Thursday next for that purpose, and shall be glad, of the pleasure of seeing you any part of it that may best suit your convenience.

I am, Sir, your most obedient humble Servant,


Col. J. Graham.

February 26, 1795.

The undersigned agent, according to the appointment of his grace the Lord Archbishop of Canterbury, this day waited upon his Lordship at Lambeth Palace, on the business of the consecration of the [18/19] Rev. Dr. Peters, the bishop elect of Vermont, when the business was opened.

His grace first objected, because the act of parliament passed in January, 1786, was limited to a college, that is, three bishops for the United States of America; and his grace having already consecrated three bishops, one for New York, one for Pennsylvania, and one for Virginia, the act had been fulfilled.

The agent desired to know by what rule of construction said act could be considered as a limited act, to numbers or countries?

His grace replied, that he had left the act thus open, lest one of the three bishops to be consecrated for the States of America should die before they could meet to consecrate a fourth.

The agent then wished to know, why words in the act of parliament should not be considered as the only meaning thereof?

His grace replied that he had himself brought the bill into the house of lords, and had moved to have it passed into a law; and the Earl of Effingham demanded to be informed of the design of the bill; whereupon he (meaning his Grace the Lord Archbishop of Canterbury)" explained it thus: "The design of the bill is, to enable the English bishops to consecrate a college of bishops for the United States of America." The bill then passed into an act, without noticing the explanation of it by his grace, and that his explanation of the act was the only meaning of it; and if he should consecrate a fourth bishop for the States of America, he must contradict his own explanation, and might be called on to consecrate a fifth, sixth, seventh, and so on ad infinitum and the English bishops would never be free from the trouble of consecrating bishops for the States of America.

The agent then begged his lordship's indulgence, and said, in his opinion, as a lawyer, the act was indefinite as to numbers and countries; and that the explanation of the bill in the house of lords made no part in the act.

His grace replied, that no lawyer could understand the spirit and meaning of the act, and that he alone was capable of explaining its real meaning.

The agent then said--Your grace's successors in office will be bound by the act itself, without any reference to your lordships verbal explanation, unless they should have the spirit of Daniel to divine and develope the secret meaning.

[20] His grace then assigned a second reason, to wit: A canon made at Philadelphia, by a convention of Episcopalians of sundry states, in words to this effect: "The bishops of this convention shall not consecrate any bishop, unless the person consecrated has resided and officiated as a clergyman in one of the states three years prior to his being consecrated." His grace said he could not consecrate the bishop elect of Vermont, who had resided the last twenty years in England, without violating said canon.

The agent replied--My lord, your grace loth not belong to that convention, nor loth the church of Vermont belong to it; and though Dr. Peters hath resided the last twenty years in England, yet he has resided and officiated as a clergyman about fourteen years, in Connecticut; therefore the canon cannot militate against his being consecrated, as the canon requires only three years residence prior to his consecration, and not the three last years previous to his consecration.

His grace next objected and said, "If I should consecrate a fourth bishop for the States of America, I should invade the rights, and offend the college of bishops of America."

The agent replied, that the three bishops viz: Dr. Provost, Dr. White, and Dr. Madison, are bishops in their respective diocesses, but not bishops of America, or United States; nor has there been a bishop of the United States since the independence of America. The said three bishops in the three states, my lord, are not like an archbishop of Canterbury, whose power pervades all countries in his majesty's dominions; but the ubiquity of all other bishops is confined to their own respective dioceses: Therefore, as the said three bishops in America are located in three states, and the fifteen states have no archbishop, the church of Vermont is no more subject to said three bishops than to the bishops of England and Ireland; and in fact, the church of Vermont have no legal claim on the three bishops in the three states of America, while they hold a right to the benedictions of the English bishops, by a gracious act of parliament, passed January, 1786. These things being considered, my lord; bow is it possible for the said three American bishops to be offended with the English bishops for consecrating a bishop for Vermont; since it is true, that the American bishops have no legal rights in Vermont, therefore their rights in or to Vermont cannot be invaded by the English or any other bishops. Also, my lord, the three American bishops, who live very remote from each other and from Vermont, ought to be very thankful to the English bishops for consecrating the bishop elect of Vermont, as it would prevent them the trouble and expense of travelling above 1200 miles to form a temporary college to consecrate the bishop elect of Vermont. Furthermore, my lord, there is no existing law in the United States of America, either in church or state, that can oblige the aforesaid three bishops to meet to consecrate a bishop for Vermont.

His grace replied, that those inconveniences were not to be imputed to him or the English bishops.

The undersigned agent suspected his grace had some latent reasons which kept him from consecrating the bishop elect; he therefore requested his grace to inform him, if his grace had any thing to object to the character of Dr. Peters, the bishop elect of Vermont, that caused him to be unwilling to consecrate him.

His grace readily answered, No, by no means; his character is unexceptionable.

His grace then asked the undersigned agent, why application was made to him to consecrate a fourth bishop for the American States, since he (his grace) had committed himself in the house of lords, by an explanation of the design of the act.

The undersigned agent answered, he made application to his grace, because his grace was metropolitan of all England, and before this hour he never heard of said explanation.

JOHN A. GRAHAM, Agent for the church of Vermont.

Copy of a letter from Col. John J. Graham, to the archbishop of Canterbury.

No. 340 Strand, May 11, 1795.

My Lord,

I had the honor of addressing your Grace on the 28th day of April, praying for such an answer as might justify me as agent before the convention of the Episcopal church of Vermont, and the governor thereof, respecting the consecration of their bishop elect; a favour solicited on the principles of religion, order and policy, as it relates to the divine right of Episcopacy, and the prosperity of the church of England in Vermont, admissible by the act of parliament, [21/22] of 1786, and resting entirely on your Grace's discretion and benevolence.

The necessities of the church of Vermont, and my family concerns, require my speedy return to America. I therefore hope your Grace will soon find leisure to give me such an answer as will naturally tend to keep up the present harmony of the church in Vermont; and prevent that discord inevitable and ruinous to canonical Episcopacy in that state, should the convention be defeated in their present application to your Grace, and the cause thereof be made publick.

I see myself to be in an unpleasant situation on my return, unless I should be able to assign satisfactory reasons for not succeeding in my embassy from the convention to your Grace.

The convention of Vermont want riot to be told, that the English bishops are not obliged to consecrate their bishop elect, or that the three bishops of the three states in America may or may not meet to consecrate him; it will be sufficient, as I believe, to convince the majority of the convention, that the divine right of Protestant Episcopacy is not deemed necessary in the Church of Vermont, when they shall be told, that the English bishops have refused to consecrate their bishop elect, under an act of parliament, made for that pious and benevolent purpose. I augur the consequences will be, that the deistical and philosophic part of Americans, will publish comparisons between the conduct of the English bishops and those of the Greek and Latin churches, as well as those of the coetus of Holland, the Kirk of Scotland, and the superintendants of the Lutherians in Germany, who annually send labourers into the vineyard of America, to promote what they deem to be the glory of the church of Christ.

My Lord, did I not believe in the divine right of Episcopacy, as well as in Christianity, I should not have become an agent of a very respectable convention of a respectable state, but would have advised the convention to have elected some person to be their bishop, and then to have petitioned their sovereign Magistrate to consecrate him, as Moses did Aaron.

Should your Grace refuse to consecrate the present bishop elect of Vermont, he has resolved not to go out with me. Consequently, on my return, the convention most likely will elect another person, who will be content with a consecration performed by the governor, and not trouble themselves with the three bishops, widely spread in [22/23] America, or elsewhere; and at the same time published to the world their reasons for so doing--With a view to prevent schism, and such evils, I came to England.

I have the honor to be, my Lord, your Grace's most obedient and most humble servant,

JOHN A. GRAHAM, agent of the Episcopal Convention of Vermont.

His Grace the Lord Archbishop of Canterbury.

Copy of a letter from the Archbishop of Canterbruy to Col. John A. Graham.

Canterbury, June 17, 1795.


Having frequently stated to you, in the fullest and most explicit manner, and once particularly in the presence of the REV. S. PETERS, the grounds and reasons which induced me to decline taking any steps to obtain his majesty's licence for the consecration of a bishop for the Protestant Episcopal church in Vermont, I hoped there would be no call upon me to repeat them, but that your representations of those statements would be all-sufficient to exculpate you to the Protestant Episcopal Church in the state of Vermont, who have elected that gentleman their bishop, and to his excellency Gov. Chittenden, who united with their convention in recommending him for consecration in England.

I cannot, however; refuse your request to me, to state in writing the grounds on which my conduct in this business is founded.

I beg leave to observe, then, that the statement which I made to you, was founded on a perfect recollection, that the spirit and intention of the act of parliament, which enabled the English archbishops and bishops to consecrate bishops for America, with the king's licence, extends only to such a number as might, on their return to that country, consecrate a sufficient supply" to keep up a succession in their Protestant Episcopal Church there. His majesty clearly understood this to be the sole object of the bill presented to parliament. The archbishops and bishops understood it precisely in the same way; and that such was the intention and purport of it, and no [23/24] more, I myself stated in the house of lords, when I was called upon bye the Earl of Effingham, and others, to explain "what occasion there was for such a bill, and to what number of bishops our consecration were meant to extend."

I must add further, that on the 4th of July, 1786, I wrote from Canterbury to the committee of the general convention of the Protestant Episcopal Church in America, sending a copy of the act, and stating, that we understood it as above explained.

You will' find, my letter in the printed journal, which I sent you before I left London, of a convention of the Protestant Episcopal Church, holden at Wilmington, October 10th and 11th, 1786. To the same journal I must also refer you for another letter, pent by me and the archbishop of York to the convention, stating the solemn testimonies we should require respecting the literary, moral, and religious characters of the persons sent to us for consecration.

You will allow me to recommend to your particular attention the very solemn forms of testimonials, which accompanied our letter, and which we insisted upon, as essential to us in point of conscience, before we could proceed to consecrate any person sent to us for consecration, from that distant country.

So much for the general question respecting the number of bishops intended by the act to be consecrated here for the states of America, on which the archbishops and bishops entirely concur in opinion. But were the case otherwise, were they all of opinion that any greater number might be consecrated by that act, Mr. Peters could not receive consecration from us, since, we could have no such testimony relative to him from Vermont, (where for the last twenty years he has never resided) as we always have insisted upon previous to that solemn act on our part. Nor could the want of that testimony be supplied in England, where he has lived all that time, without the exercise of any ecclesiastical function within-the cognizance or jurisdiction of any of our bishops.


Col. J. Graham.

State of Vermont, Windsor, Oct. 12, 1795.

To the Honorable and Reverend Convention of the Episcopal Church of Vermont.


Having had the honor of being your agent to wait on the Archbishop of Canterbury to solicit the consecration of the Reverend [24/25] Dr. Peters, of London, your bishop elect, I hasten to lay before you a detail of what has been done in my agency and the result thereof.

I sailed from Boston, the 10th of November, 1794, and reached England in 23 days. In February, 1795, had an interview with his Grace the Archbishop at the Palace of Lambeth, and laid before him your petition and the credentials committed to my charge, with which his Grace was satisfied, as to form and authenticity--but signified that his non-compliance with your petition arose from a limitation in the act of parliament of January, 1786--enabling the English bishops to consecrate a college of bishops only, for the United States, and that had been done already, and the act fulfilled. Your agent seeing no limitation in the printed act of January, 1786, as to countries or numbers of bishops to be consecrated by the English bishops, brought on some conversation, and a correspondence on the subject of my, mission, which I now have the honor to submit, whereby you will see the nature of the objections and answers. Though my arguments were too feeble to convince his Grace, that the act was indefinite, yet should my conduct in this business meet your approbation, my defeat will be tolerable, and my reward will be ample for the dangers and expense undergone in behalf of the Episcopal Church of Vermont.

I have the honor to remain gentlemen,

Yours, with profound respect, and

High consideration,


At a special meeting of the Convention of the Episcopal Church of Vermont, in the town of Windsor, held this 14th of October, 1795, when, His Excellency Gov. Chittenden, and the Honorable the Counsellors of State being also present.

1st. Resolved, That this convention having read and considered the correspondence between the archbishop of Canterbury, and Col. John A. Graham, respecting the consecration of the Rev. Dr. Peters, the bishop elect of this church, under an act of parliament passed in January, 1786, to enable the English bishops to consecrate bishops for foreign countries, it is the duty of this convention to publish the correspondence held on the subject.

[26] 2d. Resolved, That the thanks of this convention be given to Col. John A. Graham, for his generosity and zeal in the cause of religion, and for his wise and judicious conduct as the agent of this convention, with the archbishop of Canterbury, the archbishop of York, and other British bishops, and with the venerable society for propagating the gospel in foreign parts.


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