Benjamin Franklin Papers

To Benjamin Franklin from William Sturgeon, 22 August 1757

From William Sturgeon2

Extract:3 American Philosophical Society

[Philadelphia, Aug. 22, 1757]

Mrs. Franklin favoured me with the Sight of a Letter wrote to you by one Mr. Waring,4 in which your Thoughts are desired on the important Subject of instructing the Negroes in the Principles of Christianity. As I have the Honour of being employ’d by the Society, a[s] Catechist to the Negroes in this City I take the Freedom to make mention of the Affair to you. When I first arrived here, few or none of the Colour were Christians; but by the Blessing of God, several of them, after proper Instruction, have been baptised, and are regular Communicants of our Church; and others who do not communicate, behave orderly, and attend the Service of the Church.

I am forced chiefly to instruct them by the Ear; but if a School could be opened for their Use under the Care and Inspection of the Minister, or some other prudent Person or Persons, the Work would in time become easy, and much Good might be done to them, and several of the lower Rank of White People.

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

2William Sturgeon (c. 1722–1770), B.A., Yale, 1745, ordained as an Anglican clergyman, 1747, went to Philadelphia as assistant minister of Christ Church and teacher of Negroes, partly supported by the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel and the Bray Associates. BF and others commended his work, but William Smith violently accused him of political partisanship, and in 1766 he resigned his Christ Church pastorate. Dexter, Biog. Sketches, II, 61–3.

3In BF’s hand, enclosed with his letter to John Waring, Jan. 3, 1758; see below, p. 356.

4See above, p. 98, for this letter which reached Philadelphia after BF had left for England. DF evidently opened it and showed it to Sturgeon as the man best able to answer the questions in it.

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