Benjamin Franklin Papers

From Benjamin Franklin to Jonathan Williams, 24 May 1764

To Jonathan Williams

MS not found; reprinted from [Jared Sparks, ed.,] Familiar Letters and Miscellaneous Papers of Benjamin Franklin; Now for the First Time Published (Boston, 1833), p. 93.

Philadelphia, 24 May 1764.

Dear Kinsman,

The bearer is the Reverend Mr. Rothenbuler,2 minister of a new Calvinist German Church, lately erected in this city. The congregation is but poor at present, being many of them new comers, and, (like other builders) deceived in their previous calculations, they have distressed themselves by the expense of their building; but as they are an industrious, sober people, they will be able in time to afford that assistance to others, which they now humbly crave for themselves.

His business in Boston is to petition the generous and charitable among his Presbyterian brethren for their kind benefactions. As he will be a stranger in New England, and I know you are ready to do every good work, I take the freedom to recommend him and his business to you, for your friendly advice and countenance. The civilities you show him shall be acknowledged as done to Your affectionate uncle,

B. Franklin.

[Note numbering follows the Franklin Papers source.]

2Frederick Rothenbuehler (1726–1766), German Reformed (Calvinist) minister, was born in Bern, Switzerland, educated at the University of Bern, and ordained in 1752. After a year in the Netherlands, he served a German Reformed church in London, migrated to New York in 1761, and became pastor of the newly organized St. George’s Church in Philadelphia in 1762. This church, the second of its denomination in the city, ran heavily into debt, and four years after Rothenbuehler’s death the building was sold to a Methodist organization. Frederick L. Weis, “The Colonial Clergy of the Middle Colonies,” Amer. Antiq. Soc. Proc., LXVI (1956–57), 303; J. Thomas Scharf and Thompson Westcott, History of Philadelphia. 1609–1884 (Phila., 1884), II, 1413; J. H. Dobbs, “The Reformed Church in Philadelphia,” Pa. German Soc. Proc. and Addresses, XI (1902), 168.

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