Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography/Schlatter, Michael

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SCHLATTER, Michael, clergyman, b. in St. Gall, Switzerland, 14 July, 1716; d. on Chestnut Hill, now a part of Philadelphia, Pa., in November, 1790. He was educated at the gymnasium of his native town and at the University of Helmstedt, Brunswick, taught for several years in Holland, entered the German Reformed ministry, officiated for a few months in Switzerland, and then went to Amsterdam and volunteered his services as a missionary to the destitute congregations of Pennsylvania. He arrived in Philadelphia on 6 Aug., 1746, and on 1 Jan., 1747, was installed as pastor of the united churches of Germantown and Philadelphia. For a great part of the time he was absent on missionary tours among the German Reformed settlers of Pennsylvania, Maryland, New Jersey, and New York. He organized a synod, which met in Philadelphia on 29 Sept., 1747. Rev. John C. Steiner in 1750 drew away more than one half of his hearers, which prompted him in 1751 to visit Europe for the purpose of making a complaint before the synods of South and North Holland. In Amsterdam he published (1751) a journal of his experiences and transactions in America, with an account of the Reformed congregations and their dearth of pastors. Of this book he made a German translation (Frankfort, 1752), and afterward it was rendered into English by Rev. David Thomson, of Amsterdam, and distributed throughout Great Britain. He returned to Pennsylvania in March, 1752, bringing with him six young ministers and substantial aid in money. As a result of his appeal, a fund of more than £20,000 was collected in England and Holland for the maintenance of free schools among the Germans in America. Schlatter withdrew from the active duties of the pastorate in 1755, and devoted himself to the establishment of these schools, which met with strong opposition among the Germans, because the scheme included the teaching of the English language. The project rendered him unpopular, and in 1757 he abandoned it and accepted a chaplaincy in the Royal American regiment that was tendered him by Lord Loudoun. He accompanied the Pennsylvania troops in the expedition against Louisburg, and remained with the army till 1759. After his return from Nova Scotia he preached at Chestnut Hill, where he resided, and in neighboring places, but held no further relations with the authorities of the church. When the Revolutionary war began he still held the appointment of chaplain in the royal army, and officiated as such for a short time. But his sympathies were with the patriots, and when English troops invaded Germantown in September, 1777, he refused to obey orders, and was imprisoned, while his house was plundered. See his “Life,” by Rev. Henry Harbaugh (Philadelphia, 1857).