FUNDS OF THE LATE UNDIVIDED DIOCESE OF NEW-YORK.
THE Committee upon "The apportionment of the charitable or other funds of the late undivided Diocese of New-York," respectfully report as follows:
At the last session of the Convention the Committee reported that they had conferred with the Committee of the New-York Convention, but were unable to state what conclusions they had arrived at, in reference to the claim submitted by us upon the Episcopal Fund of that Diocese. At the ensuing session of the New-York Convention, in September last, the result of their deliberations was presented. It is, in all respects, opposed to the recognition of any claim, "legal, moral, or equitable," on the part of the Diocese of Long Island, to any portion of the Episcopal Fund of the Diocese of New-York. Their conclusions are summed up as follows:
"1st. That the Diocese of Long Island has no claim on any part of that Fund, which would be held valid in the courts."
"2d. That it has no equitable claim which is capable of being defined in terms."
"3d. That no precedent can be adduced in the proceedings in the case of the divisions of other Dioceses which ought to rule and determine the question in the present case."
"4th. That if any party to this controversy he now aggrieved, it is the Diocese of New-York, which, considering the circumstances under which the Dioceses of Albany and Long Island came into existence, may well complain that the question has been opened, and that claims on its Episcopal Fund have been set up."
Upon these conclusions your Committee would remark as follows:
1st. That, while in the presentation of our claims, we have necessarily referred to the legal aspects of the question, it has been chiefly the moral and equitable rights which have been urged. As between Christian Conventions, they have supposed it was only necessary to present what were fairly "moral and equitable claims," to secure for them fair and equitable consideration. As a matter of law, however, [3/4] they suppose there is no doubt that upon a dissolution of the connection which existed prior to 1868, between what are known as the Dioceses of New-York, Albany, and Long Island, each have certain legal, definite rights to, and ownership in, the property or funds held by them in common, and, for convenience, in the hands of Trustees, incorporated by the Legislature; that a legal investigation as to the manner in which said fund was raised, and by what churches it was contributed, would determine the proportion to which each was entitled. That the accounts of the Treasurer would show the churches contributing to the fund, and that especially the Accumulating Fund (of which not a dollar of either principal or interest was used for the support of the Episcopate until more than a year after the division of the Diocese was completed) can be traced to its sources, and, as we claim, the investigation shows that the contributions and accumulations, made by the churches on Long Island, amount to more than $5200. As we have before stated, we have not the means of ascertaining what were the contributions of Long Island to the Disposable Fund. Something, certainly, which a legal investigation would establish. The New-York Committee, in their report, use the following language: "A claim, however, to a fund of money, or to a specific portion of it, if rested on any grounds at all, must be capable of accurate statement." Your Committee did state to what extent Long Island had contributed to the Accumulating Fund, but of this statement no notice whatever is taken. Again they say, "If there had been no Episcopal Fund, they (Long Island) would have never dreamed of charging any portion of this expense on the old Diocese. The case is like that of the division of a County. The new County must have its own court-house, jail, etc., and pay its own officials. It is the division itself which creates the new expense. Where the division divides what was previously a common burden, as if, for instance, when a county is divided, a portion of the poor has to be provided for by each of the divisions, then if there be a Fund on which that burden was a charge, there is equitable ground for the division of that Fund. This principle was acted on in reference to the 'Aged and Infirm Clergy Fund.' It does not, however, cover the case before us."
In the view of your committee, the case here supposed is strictly analogous. A Fund is raised to provide for the support of the Episcopate. The increase of the Church requires that the territory be divided, and the duties devolved upon Three Bishops instead of One. The equitable ground for division, which the New-York Committee [4/5] suppose, is before us. But they go on to argue "that the Fund is an accumulation of moneys, given by individual donors for the support of the Episcopate of the Diocese of New-York." What, we ask, was the Diocese of New-York, for which these moneys were given, and for which trustees were incorporated? It was the Diocese of 1845, covering the territory now comprising New-York, Albany, and Long Island; and we find no reason given in the report why the smaller territory, which keeps the name, should be also entitled to retain the money. The Committee go on further to say, "That though it be argued that the division now asked for is not with a view to the permanent diminution of the Fund, and though it be alleged that what would be given away could be easily replaced by new gifts, that does not seem so clear; for the reply to fresh appeals might be very properly and very forcibly made thus: 'We once contributed to make up this fund for the support of the Episcopate of New-York; you have diverted it, in violation of good faith; we shall not trust you a second time.'"
If there is any force in this reasoning, we fail to see why it was not equally applicable to the "Aged and Infirm Clergy Fund." It was contributed for the relief of the aged and infirm clergy of the Diocese of New-York; and when they ceased to belong to New-York, their claim upon that Fund ceased, just as much as the claim of the new Dioceses ceased upon the Episcopal Fund. The truth is, the new dioceses had contributed to both Funds, and they needed their fair proportion of both to sustain them in their new relations, and it seems to us no more a breach of faith to the original contributors to divide the one than it was to divide the other. The money or its income is still sacredly devoted to the purposes for which it was contributed.
The Committee dwell very much upon the "insuperable legal impediments" which prevent a division of the fund even if they were so disposed. The only legal impediment is the act of 1845, incorporating the Trustees of the Episcopal Fund, and, as the Committee themselves say, the Legislature of the State could pass an enabling act for that purpose. But even this would not be required for the distribution of the income of the Fund, which the act expressly provides shall be appropriated "according to the directions to be from time to time given by the Convention of said Church in said Diocese." It is the principal only which needs legislative interference.
Your Committee are quite clear in their own mind that we have a "claim which would be held valid in the courts." As to its equity, they find nothing in the New-York report to weaken the ground they [5/6] have heretofore taken. A Fund, originating in 1787, and accumulating by contributions, etc., since that time, designed in the first instance to provide for Episcopal services in the State; but when the necessity for a division arose in 1838, and the Diocese of Western New-York was created, there was an appropriation made to it from the Episcopal Fund of $35,000. If that appropriation, to which Long Island as a contributor to the Fund according to its ability was a party, was upon equitable grounds made more than thirty years since, when the Diocese of New-York was far less able to make it than it is to-day, then we have a basis upon which as a minimum the claim "may be defined in terms." If we are to look upon it as the equitable claim which the two Dioceses, comparatively weak, have upon the mother Diocese, comparatively strong, for the aid and support which, as Christians looking to Christians, they have a right to expect, then indeed we may be unable to define it "in terms," by which is, doubtless, to be understood its value in dollars.
The third conclusion to which the New-York Committee refer is that "no precedent can be adduced in the proceeding in the case of other Dioceses which ought to rule and determine the question in the present case." This is in response to the argument in which your Committee referred to the precedent in the case of Western New-York, (just quoted,) of Central New-York, and of Easton, and their claim is that we are estopped from the presentation of our claims because the Committee of Fifteen reported that there were "insuperable legal impediments," and that report having been adopted, precedents the other way are of no value. We shall have occasion again to refer to this argument.
The fourth conclusion, "that if any party to this controversy be now aggrieved, it is the Diocese of New-York," etc., seems to us very remarkable. That the churches in the Diocese of Long Island, after having contributed through a long series of years to a Fund for the purpose of securing Episcopal services for themselves, in common with the churches associated with them, and having in addition submitted to annual assessments in order that the principal of that Fund should be permitted to accumulate, should have the assurance to suppose they had any legal, moral, or equitable right to ask that their own money should be returned to them, that it might continue to accomplish the very purpose for which they had contributed it; that, in addition to this, they should have supposed that, as the weaker body they had any claim upon the aid and sympathy of the stronger, are positions only to be noted as justly giving right to the Diocese of New-York [6/7] to feel aggrieved. To your committee it seems hardly possible that the import of this language could have been thoughtfully considered.
The New-York Committee lay great stress upon the report of the Committee of Fifteen, which recommended the division of the Diocese. That Committee, as they urge, included four representatives from Albany and four from Long Island. They reported in 1867, and state "that, after a full discussion and a careful examination of the whole subject, they arrived at a unanimous conclusion in the adoption of the following resolutions:
"'Resolved, That it is the opinion of this Committee, acting under suitable legal advice, that no part of the existing Episcopal Fund of the Diocese can be used for the endowment of the Episcopate in the new Dioceses proposed to be erected.
"'Resolved, That inasmuch as the legal impediments to any such use of the Fund are insuperable, the Committee recommend to the Convention to declare by resolution the moral and equitable right of the proposed new Dioceses to liberal assistance from the Diocese of New-York in the endowment of their Episcopates.'"
It is true that members of the Convention, who reside in that portion of the Diocese of New-York which constituted the two new Dioceses, were on the Committee of Fifteen, and under the representions made as to the insuperable legal impediments," and what was supposed to be a full recognition of the moral and equitable right "to liberal assistance from the Diocese of New-York in the endowment of their Episcopates, were induced to sign the report. The argument of the New-York Committee proceeds to say, That it is alleged that the opinions of the several Committees of the undivided Diocese of New-York, as to the existence of insuperable legal difficulties in the way of a division of the Fund, were not correct, and that in point of fact no such impediments existed. But, though this were granted, it would not affect the case. The consent of a majority to the setting off of the Diocese of Long Island was given, not conditionally on the correctness of the processes by which certain conclusions were reached, but on the conclusions themselves. It is not a question whether the law of the Committee of Fifteen was good or bad, but whether what was done in full confidence in their sincerity and wisdom, and on the basis of their expressed views, would become void on the subsequent discovery that they were not so wise as they were thought to be. If it is true that the legal difficulties are, as they said, insuperable, the case is at an end; if it is not true, still it remains certain that the [7/8] consent and division of the Diocese was obtained and the division accomplished on the strength of statements concerning the law of the case, which the Convention deemed at the time to be undoubtedly correct. It is no longer of practical consequence to inquire whether they who made those statements were right or wrong."
In other words, if the representations in regard to the insuperable legal difficulties of dividing the Episcopal Fund were false, you believed them to be true, and have consented to division on that basis; and we, benefiting by false statements, see no occasion to correct our action, and propose to hold what we have so acquired.
Your Committee hold that the assent of the dioceses of Albany and Long Island to the retention, by the Diocese of New-York, of all the Episcopal Fund belonging to the undivided Diocese, is not to be inferred by any action taken by individuals, when acting as members of the Diocese of New-York, though having Cures or representing Parishes on Long Island or in Albany.
According to the report of the Committee of Fifteen, in order to ascertain the views of Rectors and Parishes in the territory proposed to be erected into new Dioceses, circulars were addressed to each, comprising questions as to the advisability of forming the new Dioceses, the probability of raising $40,000 toward the endowment of the Episcopate, etc.; and answers were requested. On Long Island, out of 6o Clergymen, 49 were in favor of division, and out of 51 Parishes, 36 were in favor of division; others opposed, or did not reply. Your Committee would especially call attention to the fact that the questions which were submitted did not refer to the interest of the proposed new Dioceses in the Episcopal Fund, and their willingness to yield their right to it; and they venture the assertion that had the division been suggested in that form, the answers in the negative, both from Clergy and Vestries, would have been much more numerous. That this is the fact, is evident from the action of the Committee of Twenty, appointed to raise the sum of $40,000, understood to be required before the assent of the Bishop would be given to the division, in requesting the Rev. J. A. Paddock, D.D., to present a memorial to the ensuing Convention upon this subject, and which was actually presented and advocated by Dr. Paddock before the application for division had been made to the General Convention. The language of the New-York report is as follows:
"It is alleged that a certain memorial presented by the Rev. John A. Paddock, D.D., on the 30th September, 1868, immediately after the division had been consummated, so far as it could be in the Convention [8/9] of the old Diocese, in some way preserved the rights of the new Diocese. The memorial referred to was doubtless presented, but most unexpectedly; and the scene which ensued is fresh in the memories of many. Amazement was felt by all not in the secret at a proceeding deemed so indefensible; and amid general confusion the House refused to permit the paper to go upon its Journal. If the arguments and views which we have presented, drawn from the history of the measures taken by this Diocese in view of division, are correct, the astonishment and indignation of the Convention on that occasion were justifiable; and to say that the case is modified or affected in any way by the presentation of the paper referred to, is but substantially to say that a breach of faith is not a breach of faith, provided faith be broken promptly at the earliest possible instant."
The language of the New-York report here quoted is not remarkable for its courtesy, nor consistent with the record of their own Convention. "It is said, The House refused to permit the paper to go upon its Journal." The House did in fact direct the paper to be printed in the appendix; and it is there to be found. The Committee, in this connection, append a letter from Rev. J. A. Paddock, D.D., upon this subject, to which they refer.
Upon the question of a "breach of faith," the charge of which is made so readily, the Committee wish to say that the Diocese of Long Island, as such, or by its Rectors and Parishes, either separately or as part of the Diocese of New-York, never voted to relinquish their claim to the Episcopal Fund of the old Diocese. The New-York Committee, in referring to the report of the Committee of Fifteen upon the subject of moral and equitable right, use the following language:
"Even so the Committee, in their final resolutions, recommended to the Convention for adoption, dropped altogether from consideration the Diocese of Long Island, as if it was not supposed that that Diocese would need assistance, and limited themselves to recommending that 'the Convention recognize the duty resting on the older and more wealthy portion of the Diocese to aid liberally in the endowment of the Episcopate of the new Diocese in Northern New-York; and most earnestly commend this measure to the sympathies and generous contributions of the members of the Church.'"
Your Committee would call attention especially to the fact thus brought out in the New-York report, and would add to it the equally significant fact that, as the resolution of aid and sympathy for Long Island was not submitted to the Convention, neither was the resolution [9/10] of the Committee as to "insuperable legal difficulties" submitted to the Convention, and no vote of the New-York Convention was taken on that subject, and no opportunity afforded to Churches represented in the Convention of 1867 to vote whether they would surrender their rights or not. All that can be claimed is, that four members of the Committee from Long Island, upon a statement presented from the report of Judge Hoffman in 1863, (and which report, as your Committee have heretofore shown, was only quoted in part,) appear as signers of that report. The action of the Convention upon that report being not to adopt it as a whole, but only the resolutions reported excluding, as we have already said, those which referred to "insuperable legal difficulties" and the recommendation of assistance to Long Island.
In addition to the strong statements regarding the insuperable legal impediments, the members of the Committee of Fifteen who assented to the report had the inducements of the resolutions recognizing "the moral and equitable right of the new Dioceses to liberal assistance in the endowment of their Episcopates." If they gave up any claim, it was on the faith of this promise. How has it been kept? Let the report of the New-York Committee answer. "The failure of the appeal to their 'sympathies' and 'generosity,' which is unfortunately conspicuous, notwithstanding the laborious and persevering efforts of several Committees appointed to obtain, through personal application, contributions and donations toward the endowment of the Diocese of Albany does not, in the slightest degree, affect the legal aspects of the case. It does, however, cause deep regret that the encouragement afforded by the Convention to expect assistance from us was given to no purpose, and that up to this hour no aid worth naming has been forthcoming." It seems hardly fair for the New-York Committee to charge us with breach of faith after this exhibition of the value of their "recognition of moral and equitable rights to liberal assistance."
The New-York Committee appear to think that the distinction we have, in former reports, made between the Disposable and Accumulating Funds is unfounded. They overlook entirely the fact that we have always recognized the agreement which the Convention made with Trinity Church when they proposed to give $30,000 toward the Episcopal Fund. That was, that the Fund should be raised to $70,000, which with the $30,000 would make a fund of $100,000, and that in any future division of the diocese one half of the $70,000, say $35,000, together with $30,000 given by Trinity Church, "should [10/11] remain with the Diocese of which the city of New-York should form a part." Hence in 1838, when that division took place and the Diocese of Western New-York was created, the other $35,000 was given to it as an endowment of its Episcopate. The moral and equitable right of the new Diocese to liberal assistance was promptly and liberally recognized. The remaining $65,000 we do not seek to divide; but we do ask that the Accumulating Fund, which was never encumbered by any restrictions of the kind referred to, the income of which was never used for the support of the Episcopate of the Diocese of New-York while we belonged to that Diocese, should be divided, and that, if we are not to be treated as if we had "moral and equitable rights" beyond the money we put into that Fund, we should at least have that and its accumulation returned to us. To recur once more to the report of the New-York Committee. They say, "It is further evident that the Episcopal Fund could not be divided unless the Convention of this Diocese should first apply to the Legislature of the State of New-York for an enabling act, nor until the said Convention should have formally reconsidered and rescinded the resolutions adopted by them September 3oth, 1869, (after the Diocese was divided,) directing that the Fund be consolidated, and that, in the opinion of this Convention, it is solemnly and inalienably pledged to the support of the Episcopate of New-York, and may not be diverted to the maintenance of the Episcopate of Long Island, or the Episcopate of Albany."
The report goes on to say,
"Your Committee, after mature examination, finds no reason why it should recommend the reconsideration of those resolutions which now constitute the law on this question, or the application to the Legislature for such an enabling act as has been referred to. Regarding the case as settled, and justly settled, as far as the action of this Convention is concerned, we have no further action to recommend in the premises."
To all this, after what has been urged, your Committee have only to remark that the application to the Legislature, and the rescinding of the resolutions, are difficulties readily overcome if the will is not wanting, and are not, as elsewhere claimed in the report, and predicated upon the report of the Committee of Fifteen, legal impediments which are insuperable."
There are, perhaps, other points in the report of the New-York Committee, but your Committee have intended to consider every thing which seemed important, and they find nothing which, in their judgment, weakens the position they have uniformly maintained, and [11/12] which they are happy to know meets the concurrence of the Diocese, that we have rights, "legal, moral, and equitable," and they feel that the Diocese owes it to itself properly to maintain them.
They regret the spirit in which the New-York report seems to have been written, as uncalled for by any thing which has heretofore transpired in connection with this question. Where serious differences of opinion exist between Christian Conventions, there are methods of adjustment practicable without resorting to the civil Courts, and if the convention see fit to continue the Committee with power, as was authorized at the last Convention, they would feel it their duty, in the first instance, to propose a submission of the case to disinterested Arbitrators, agreeing to abide by their decision; and confident as the New-York Convention are in the strength of their position, they could hardly decline such a pacific and honorable method of disposing of a question which, to some extent, seems to disturb the harmony of the church. They offer, therefore, the following resolution:
Resolved, That the Committee on the apportionment of the charitable or other funds of the late undivided Diocese of New-York" be continued, with full power td take such measures and make such settlement of the claims of the Diocese upon the Episcopal Fund of the late undivided Diocese of New-York, as they shall deem best for the interests of this Diocese.
N. H. SCHENCK,
ROBERT B. VAN KLEECK,
CHARLES H. HALL,
CHARLES R. MARVIN,
JOHN W. HUNTER,
HENRY E. PIERREPONT.
BROOKLYN, May 21, 1872.
234 DEAN STREET, BROOKLYN, March 20, 1872.
REV. N. H. SCHENCK, D.D., CHAIRMAN, ETC., ETC.:
IN the "Report of the Special Committee on the Episcopal Fund," made to the Diocese of New-York at its last annual Convention, (to which some reply may be made by the "Special Committee" of the Diocese of Long Island, of which you are Chairman,) there is language used (New-York Journal, p. 63) which seems to call for some answer from me, concerning a Memorial to the Convention of the Diocese of New-York, A.D. 1868.
The Report says, "The House refused to permit the paper to go upon its Journal." On page 95 of the Journal it is recorded, "The Rev. J. A. Paddock presented a Memorial which was ordered to be printed in an Appendix;" it is found on page 295.
The Report concludes, "To say that the case is modified or affected in any way by the presentation of the paper referred to, is but substantially to say that a breach of faith is not a breach of faith, provided faith be broken promptly at the earliest possible instant."
This very serious charge is made, because a protest was not entered against the claim of the present Diocese of New-York to the whole of the Episcopal Fund at as early a period in the discussion of the question, as, according to the "arguments and views" of the Committee, the protest should have been entered.
In answer, it will be proper to give a brief history of the action that led to the presentation of the Memorial.
For a long time after the agitation of the question of a division of the Diocese, many in all parts of the State believed that the effort would prove futile, and were quite indifferent as to any views expressed by individuals or committees. In the uncertainty that prevailed, no meeting of Churchmen on Long Island was held to empower any one to speak or act for them. But when, at the Convention of New-York in 1867, a Committee reported that a large majority of the Clergy and Vestries on Long Island were found to be in favor of a division of the old Diocese, that which had been thought by many visionary seemed likely to be realized, if, during the following year, the condition could be fulfilled that $40,000 should be raised toward the endowment of the Episcopate. Then was held the first meeting of the Clergy and Laity of Long Island. They placed the whole matter in the hands of a Committee of Twenty, ten Clergymen and ten [13/14] Laymen. In this Committee, the sentiment found expression, which had been known to be very strong in the minds of many, that great injustice would be done if the proposed new Diocese did not receive a portion of the Episcopal Fund of New-York; which Fund Long Island had helped to create. A sub-committee having reported on the subject, the Committee concurred in the belief that the "legal impediments" to a division of the Fund (of which much had been said) were not "insuperable." There were those who still thought, as they had before maintained, that the agitation of the claim to a portion of the Fund of the as yet undivided Diocese was premature; that no individuals or committees could, by their views as expressed to the New-York Convention, bind the Churches on Long Island; and that no action could properly be taken until the proposed new Diocese had a legal existence. A prominent layman, in a Note which I have preserved, wrote, that any presentation of the claims of the proposed new Dioceses to the Convention of New-York would probably elicit the response, "Time enough when those Dioceses exist, to consider their claims." Others, however, argued that the Committee now created--the only Committee ever empowered to speak and act for the Churches on Long Island--should not seem to acquiesce in a view which would allow that part of the Diocese which had the city of New-York within its bounds to retain the whole of the Episcopal Fund; and that, as division long talked of seemed likely to become a reality, it would be more honorable to present our sentiments in advance, to protest against that deemed by us unjust, and to urge our claims at the earliest opportunity. This view prevailed; and the Committee passed the following Resolution:
"Resolved, That this Committee, appointed at a meeting of Clergy and Laity on Long Island, to take measures for the raising of a Fund for the support of the Episcopate, feel that it is due to the Churches which they represent, and to the Diocese of New-York, to declare to the Convention now assembled that, in the event of the proposed division being consummated, the Churches on Long Island are not to be understood as relinquishing any claim which they may have, in law and equity, on a portion of the Episcopal Fund of the present Diocese of New-York, or of the income thereof."
It devolved on me to present the Resolution to the Convention in New-York, which I did at as early an hour after its assembling as it could properly be done; accompanying the presentation with some remarks explanatory of the feeling of Churchmen on Long Island. It being found, the next day, that the Secretary had made no mention of the matter on the Journal, it was deemed best to incorporate the Resolution with its Preamble in a Memorial, in order that our action might be put upon record before division was consummated. This was accordingly done.
With this statement of facts, I leave it to others to judge whether "the case is modified or affected in any way by the presentation of the paper [14/15] referred to;" and I leave it to others to judge as to the propriety of the language used by the New-York Committee concerning myself and the brethren, Clerical and Lay, who acted with me in a manner deemed by us honorable, just, and right.
J. A. PADDOCK.
Rev. Dr. SCHENCK, Chairman, etc.
BROOKLYN, May 23, 1872.
AT a meeting of the Annual Convention of the Diocese of Long Island held in the Church of the Holy Trinity, Brooklyn, on the 21st inst., the following resolution was adopted:
On motion of Mr. C. R. Marvin, it was
Resolved, That the "Committee on the Apportionment of the Charitable or other Funds of the late undivided Diocese of New York" have the permission of this convention to print their report for the use of the members.
On the 22d inst., after the reading of the report, the following resolution appended thereto, on motion of Mr. King, seconded by the Hon. J. W. Gilbert, was unanimously adopted:
Resolved, That the "Committee on the Apportionment of the Charitable or other Funds of the late undivided Diocese of New-York" be continued, with full power to take such measures and make such settlement of the claims of the diocese upon the Episcopal fund of the late undivided diocese of New-York, as they shall deem best for the interests of this diocese.
The Right Rev. the President then reappointed the following as said Committee:
The Rev. N. H. Schenck, D.D., the Rev. Robert B. Van Kleeck, D.D., the Rev. Thomas Mallaby, the Rev. Charles H. Hall. D.D., Mr. Charles R. Marvin, the Hon. John W. Hunter, and Mr. Henry E. Pierrepont.
On motion of the Rev. Dr. Schenck, it was
Resolved, That an official copy of the report of the "Committee on the Apportionment of the Charitable or other Funds of the late undivided Diocese of New-York," with the appended resolution, be transmitted by the Secretary of this body, to the Secretary of the Convention of the Diocese of New-York, with the request that it be presented at an early hour of the next annual session in September, and that it be considered in association with such further communication as may be submitted at that time by the committee of this diocese having the matter in charge.
A true copy from the Journal of the Proceedings of the Convention of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Long Island.
Attest: T. STAFFORD DROWNE, Secretary.