Benjamin Franklin Papers

From Benjamin Franklin to John Waring, 27 June 1763

To John Waring7

ALS: American Philosophical Society

New York, June 27. 1763

Reverend and dear Sir,

Being here on my Journey to New-England, I received your Favour of April 5.8 You will easily conceive that after an Absence of near Six Years from my Family and Affairs, my Attention must be much engross’d on my Arrival by many Things that requir’d it; not to mention a Multiplicity of Visits, &c. that devour abundance of Time, I enquir’d however of Mr. Sturgeon9 concerning the Negro School tho’ I could not visit it, and had the Satisfaction to hear it was full and went on in general well, tho’ he had met with some Difficulties during the late Dissensions in the Church; but they were pretty well over.1 He gave me the enclos’d List of the Scholars. As soon as I return to Philadelphia, which I hope to do by the Beginning of September, I shall inspect the School very particularly, and afford every Assistance in my Power to Mr. Sturgeon, in promoting the laudable Views of the Associates, to whom please to present my best Respects. Since my Arrival in America, I made a Journey too to Williamsburgh, near 350 Miles, which took me 5 Weeks; on Business of the Post Office. I there had a long Conversation with Mr. Nicholus2 concerning the School in that Place, of which I need not give you any Account, as you have receiv’d his Letter which he told me he had written to you. He appears a very sensible and a very conscientious Man, and will do his best in the Affair, but is sometimes a little diffident as to the final Success, in making sincere good Christians of the Scholars; their Continuance at the School being short. I think to visit the School here, which Mr. Auchmuty3 tells me is in a good way. And as I expect to be at Newport in Rhodeisland next Week, I shall speak to Mr. Brown concerning the Letters you have wrote him, and promote a School there if practicable.4 I thank you for your kind Congratulations on the Marriage and Proferment of my Son, and am with great Esteem, and Respect, Reverend Sir, Your most obedient humble Servant

B Franklin

P.S. At my Return I shall pay my Subscription as you desire to Mr. Sturgeon.

Mr. Waring

Addressed: To / The Revd Mr Waring / at Mr Burd’s a Bookseller / in Ava Mary Lane, near St. / Paul’s / London

Endorsed: Dr. Franklin June 27. 1763

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

7On the Reverend John Waring, secretary of the Associates of Dr. Bray, see above, VII, 98 n.

8Not found.

9William Sturgeon, one of the assistant ministers of the united churches of Christ Church and St. Peter’s, Philadelphia, and catechist of the school for Negro children supported there by the Bray Associates. See above, VII, 252 n.

1In the winter of 1762–63 the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, which paid a small part of Sturgeon’s salary, was told that he was neglecting his duties as catechist. A local committee, consisting of the rector, Rev. Richard Peters, and four vestrymen, investigated and on April 23, 1763, completely exonerated him. Nevertheless, soon after receiving this report, the S.P.G. dismissed Sturgeon from its service. The criticism may have come originally from Rev. William Smith, then in London, who was not friendly to Sturgeon, or as the accused minister believed, from John Ross, a former Christ Church vestryman who was a member of the S.P.G. and had become leader of a movement as the result of which numerous communicants withdrew and founded St. Paul’s Church with Rev. William McClanachan as its minister. Later the S.P.G. relented and Sturgeon continued in service until his retirement in 1766. William S. Perry, ed., Papers Relating to the History of the Church in Pennsylvania, A.D. 1680–1778 (privately printed, 1871), pp. 332, 355–6; Benjamin Dorr, A Historical Account of Christ Church, Philadelphia (N.Y., Phila., 1841), pp. 137–8; Edgar L. Pennington, “The Work of the Bray Associates in Pennsylvania,” PMHB, LVIII (1934), 7–9.

2William Hunter and Commissary Thomas Dawson had been in charge of the Negro school in Williamsburg (above, IX, 21 n), but both had died and Robert Carter Nicholas (1728–1780), a leading lawyer and treasurer of Va., and Rev. William Yates took over as trustees. Edgar L. Pennington, “Thomas Bray’s Associates and Their Work among the Negroes,” Amer. Antiq. Soc. Proc., new series, XL (1938), 355–6.

3Rev. Samuel Auchmuty, assistant rector of Trinity Church, and catechist of the Negro school in N.Y. See above, IX, 21 n. On his work for the school see Amer. Antiq. Soc. Proc., new series, XL, 390–3.

4In 1760 Rev. Thomas Pollen, rector of Trinity Church, Newport, had been asked to take charge of Negro education at Newport, but in that year he severed his connection with the church and Rev. Mannaduke Browne (c.1731–1771) took his place as rector. Browne wrote the S.P.G., Jan. 9, 1763, that he had started a school for fifteen Negro boys and fifteen girls. Wilkins Updike, A History of the Episcopal Church in Narragansett Rhode Island (2d edit., enlarged and corrected by Daniel Goodwin, Boston, 1907), 1,617; II, 325; III, 85–6; Amer. Antiq. Soc. Proc., new series, XL, 398–400.

Index Entries