George Washington Papers

Tobias Lear to John Henry Livingston, 24 December 1789

Tobias Lear to John Henry Livingston

New York Decr 24th 1789


The President of the United States observing in the Public Papers that a sermon was to be delivered at the Dutch Church in this City for the benefit of a charity school belonging thereto,1 and not having an opportunity of contributing toward it at that time, he has now directed me to send you the enclosed sum of ten Dollars to be applied to that purpose. With very great respect I am Sir Yr most Obedt Servt

Tobias Lear


ALS (retained copy), DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters; LB, DLC:GW.

John Henry Livingston (1746–1825) was the grandson of Robert Livingston, first lord of Livingston Manor. Livingston had studied and was ordained in Holland as a minister in the Dutch Reformed church. A Patriot during the Revolution he left his post in New York City, returning in 1783 and becoming pastor of the Dutch Reformed church in the city. In 1810 he became president of Queen’s College (now Rutgers).

1The Charity School began in 1633 as an outreach of the oldest church in New York City, the Collegiate Reformed Protestant Dutch Church, founded in 1628. A schoolhouse on Garden Street was built in 1748 opposite the church and rebuilt in 1773. Several denominations in the city supported the school, which suspended operation during the Revolution and reopened under the tutelage of Peter Van Steenburgh, master from 1773 to 1791. The school’s thirty scholars depended entirely upon charitable contributions for clothing and tuition (Smith, New York City in 1789, description begins Thomas E. V. Smith. The City of New York in the Year of Washington’s Inauguration, 1789. 1889. Reprint. Riverside, Conn., 1972. description ends 125, 135). On Saturday, 12 Dec. 1789, the New-York Packet published a notice that a charity sermon would be delivered in the Dutch language the next day at the Dutch Church, and in English the following Sunday at the North Church, to raise money for the thirty scholars then attending the school.

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