The American Commandery of the Order of Saint Joachim can trace its roots back to a tenative start in August 1783 when George Washington received a letter from Warsaw from the Order's Chancellor, Major the Chevalier Jean de Heintz, which offered to make a number of leading American citizens knights of the Order of the Divine Providence (as the Order was then known). The letter, now in the Library of Congress, reads:
Since Divine providence has so visibly favoured the noble efforts of that illustrious nation that makes up the Republic of the Thirteen United States in North America, in protecting it and giving it the force necessary to resist tyranny and re-establish its liberty and the rights of man and the nature of its states; the order known by the following name, Divine Providence, feeling perceptibly that divine protection has intervened effectively in the fate of the newborn republic and wanting in some fashion to take its part in bearing witness to its prosperity, has charged me as a chevalier and secretary of the said order to write to Your Excellency and propose to him that he request the Illustrious Congress that it nominate the necessary number of the most deserving of those eligible to create 12 Knights Grand Cross, 12 Knights Commanders, & 12 Knights, Petit Cross, of the above mentioned order of the Divine Providence. The insignia of the Knights Grand Cross are a star of gold, on the left side of the coat, on which are embroidered the words Junxit Amicus Amor, and the cross of the order suspended from a broad ribbon (of which I send a sample) worn over the right shoulder. The second class wears the badge of the order on a neck ribbon and the star on the left side of the coat. The third class wears the cross on a neck ribbon, but without a star. If this unselfish proposition is accepted by the Illustrious Congress the insignia will be sent gratis immediately, with only the installation fees accepted (they are 110 ducats for the first class, 55 for the second, and 30 for the third). The order has no wish other than to want thus to acquire the esteem of the Illustrious Republic and Your Excellency, and it will please itself to be able to achieve this end.
I have at the same time the honour to enclose to Your Excellency a list of all the Knights of the above mentioned order. The writer hopes for a response addressed to the Bankers Mons. Rothenburg in Danzig who is in correspondence with the chapter of the order.
Flattered by the favourable opportunity that I have had to dare to write to a hero who has the admiration of our century, I end in assuring him humbly of the perfect veneration and deep respect with which I have the honour to be Sir, Your Excellency’s most humble and obedient servant,
Chev. Jean de Heintz Major
Warsaw May 3rd, 1783
[Jean de Heintz to George Washington, May 3, 1783, with Washington’s letter to Congress, August 28, 1783, Papers of the Continental Congress, Library of Congress]
The proposal was forwarded by Washington to Congress, which debated it, suspicious of its trappings of nobility in a post-Revolutionary egalitarian democracy.
Thomas Jefferson was later to recall:
"No circumstance indeed brought to the consideration of it expressly before Congress, yet it had sunk deep into their minds. An offer having been made to them on the part of the Polish order of divine providence to receive some of their distinguished citizens into that order, they made that an occasion to declare that these distinctions were contrary to the principles of the confederation." (Encyclopedie Méthodique, June 22, 1786, in Boyd, Julian (ed.), The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, 10 (Princeton: 1950), pp. 49-50)
On 5 January 1784 the Congressional committee which had been established to consider the Order’s approach finally reported to Congress. Its conclusions were unequivocal:
"Resolved, That the late Commander in Chief, be requested to inform the Chevalier Jean de Heintz, Secretary of the Order of Divine Providence, that Congress entertain a high sense of the honour done them by that Order, in proposing to them to nominate a number of suitable persons to be created Knights of the Order of Divine Providence: but that Congress cannot, consistently with the principles of the Confederation, accept their obliging proposal."
Washington wrote back, with some apparent regret, that Congress would not allow him to accept the honour of membership:
"It appears to be incompatible with the principles of our national constitution to admit the introduction of any kind of Nobility, Knighthood, or distinctions of a similar nature, amongst the Citizens of our republic, yet I pray you will do me the goodness to make known to the illustrious Knights of the order of Divine providence, that we receive with the deepest gratitude and most perfect respect, this most flattering mark of their attention and approbation."
The Order of Saint Joachim would have to wait until the 20th Century to again appear in the United States. The 1948 "History and Rules of the Order" mentions that there were members of the Order of Saint Joachim in North America at that time. A formal Commandery was founded in the USA in the early 1990s but did not prosper. Under new leadership a refounded American Commandery has grown in the 21st Century with an expanding membership and regular investitures, the most recent being in San Antonio, Texas in 2018. Photographs of the American Commandery's 2016 Investiture in Philadelphia can be seen here.
The current Commander of the American Commandery of the Order of Saint Joachim is H.E. LtCol The Chevalier Martin von Grossmann GCJ.
H.E. LtCol Chevalier von Grossmann GCJ H.E. LtCol Chevalier von Grossmann GCJ is President and CEO of Enspired Incorporated and Executive Vice President of CARE4D; Augmented, Virtual Reality, Mixed Reality and associated technologies and services firms. His career has been focused on innovative technologies, healthcare IT and the luxury market. His other executive experiences include CIO in the hospital and health system setting; and CEO as exclusive distributor in North America for the Manufacture de Porcelain de Monaco. The Manufacture de Porcelain de Monaco is appointed purveyor to His Serene Highness the Sovereign Prince of Monaco and exclusively distributes luxury porcelain collections. Martin brings 25 years of outstanding military leadership experience both in the active and reserve components, U.S. Army and U.S. Air Force, retiring after achieving the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in the United States Air Force.
H.E. The Chevalier von Grossmann is an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Computer Science and Software Engineering at Monmouth University in West Long Branch, N.J. Martin earned a M.S. in Biomedical Informatics, a joint program between Rutgers University Health Sciences and the New Jersey Institute of Technology, a M.S.A. from Central Michigan University and a B.S. from Rutgers University. He is a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the Reserve Officer Association, the Health Information Management and Systems Society; and he is a Patron of the Princess Grace Foundation-USA. Martin is an Advisory Board Member of in the School of Innovative Education at Rutgers University. He has been an Elder and Board member of his church. His family is listed in a regional German aristocratic association.
H.E. The Chevalier von Grossmann is assisted in the administration of the Order's American Commandery by the following officers:
Chevalier Antonio Wendland KCJ - Chancellor of the American Commandery
His Grace Chevalier the Most Rev. William Myers KCJ - Prior of the American Commandery
Chevalier Herb Rivera KJ - Registrar of the American Commandery
Colonel The Chevalier Dr. Mark Smycynski KJ - Military Knight of the American Commandery
Chevalier Peter Bruemmer KJ - Herald of the American Commandery
The Ameircan Commandery has its own PayPal account for the payment of its Commandery annual fee, Commandery events and items such as the Commandery Medal. Payments for these items can be made through Paypal using the following account address: firstname.lastname@example.org. Admission and advancement fees and the Order's annual oblations should be made through Grand Chapter's account here.
H.E. LtCol The Chevalier von Grossmann can be reached by email at: email@example.com.
The Order of Saint Joachim