Francis Daniel Pastorius

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Francis Daniel Pastorius
Francis Daniel Pastorius relief.jpg
Bas-relief impression of Francis Daniel Pastorius, c. 1897.
Born Franz Daniel Pastorius
(1651-09-26)September 26, 1651
Sommerhausen, Franconia
Died c. 1720 (aged 68–69)
Occupation lawyer, poet, scholar, schoolteacher, abolitionist, founder of Germantown, Pennsylvania
Spouse(s) Ennecke Klostermanns (1658-1723) (m. 1688)

Francis Daniel Pastorius (September 26, 1651 – c. 1720) was a German born educator, lawyer, poet, and public official. He was the founder of Germantown, Pennsylvania, now part of Philadelphia, the first permanent German-American settlement and the gateway for subsequent emigrants from Germany.[1] [2]

Early life[edit]

Franz Daniel Pastorius was born at Sommerhausen in the German Duchy of Franconia, to a prosperous Lutheran family. He received a Gymnasium education in Windsheim (also in Franconia), where his family moved in 1659. He was trained as a lawyer in some of the best German universities of his day, including the University of Altdorf, the University of Strasbourg and the University of Jena. He started his practice in Windsheim and continued it in Frankfurt-am-Main. He was a close friend of the Lutheran theologian and Pietist leader Philipp Jakob Spener during the early development of Spener's movement in Frankfurt. From 1680 to 1682, he worked as a tutor accompanying a young nobleman during his Wanderjahr through Germany, England, France, Switzerland and the Netherlands. [3]

To Philadelphia[edit]

Home of Francis Daniel Pastorius in Germantown, as it appeared circa 1919

In 1683, a group of Mennonites, Pietists, and Quakers in Frankfurt, including Abraham op den Graeff a cousin of William Penn, approached Pastorius about acting as their agent to purchase land in Pennsylvania for a settlement. Pastorius took passage to Philadelphia. In Philadelphia, he negotiated the purchase of 15,000 acres (61 km²) from William Penn, the proprietor of the colony, and laid out the settlement of Germantown, where he himself would live until his death. As one of Germantown's leading citizens, Pastorius served in many public offices. He was the first mayor and also was a member of the Pennsylvania General Assembly in 1687 and 1691.[4] [5]


He wrote extensively on topics ranging from beekeeping to religion. He was "the first poet of consequence in Pennsylvania [ . . . and] one of the most important poets of early America" (Meserole, p. 294). His extensive commonplace compilations provide insight into early Enlightenment culture in colonial Pennsylvania. He was also a skilled poet whose work appears in the New Oxford Book of Seventeenth-Century Verse (ISBN 0-19-214164-3). Pastorius' most important book was his manuscript “Bee Hive,” which is now in the University of Pennsylvania's rare book room. It is his commonplace book, which contains poetry, his thoughts on religion and politics, and lists of books he consulted along with excerpts from those books. Also of interest is his Geographical Description of Pennsylvania, first published under the title, Umständige geographische Beschreibung der allerletzt erfundenen Provintz Pennsylvania (1700).[6] He also left a published book of letters home to Germany and treatises on horticulture, law,[7] and medicine.

Seal of Germantown, PA (1691)


Pastorius married Ennecke Klostermanns (1658-1723) on November 6, 1688. They had two sons: Johann Samuel Pastorius (1690-1722) and Heinrich Pastorius (1692-1726).Though raised as a Pietist Lutheran, he grew increasingly close to Quakerism.[8] [9]

Pastorius in the Stream of History[edit]

Pastorius Monument in Vernon Park

Anti-slavery stand[edit]

In 1688 he drafted the first protest against slavery in America. Pastorius was a cosigner of the 1688 Germantown Quaker Petition Against Slavery, the first petition against slavery made in the English colonies. Before the American Civil War, when abolition of slavery was gaining strength, Pastorius was ripe for celebration. The Quaker poet John Greenleaf Whittier celebrated Pastorius' life – and particularly his anti-slavery advocacy – in Wikisource-logo.svg The Pennsylvania Pilgrim. Whittier also translated the Latin ode addressed to posterity, which Pastorius prefixed to his Germantown book of records.[6]

Operation Pastorius[edit]

Despite the Quaker sympathies of Pastorius, his name was appropriated in 1942 by the Abwehr of Nazi Germany for "Operation Pastorius," a failed sabotage attack on the United States during World War II that included a target in Philadelphia.[10]


For generations Pastorius has won the affections of historians. In the early twentieth century, German-American scholars embraced him and the University of Pennsylvania professor Marion Dexter Learned (1857-1917) wrote a lengthy biography; Learned had access to papers that have subsequently been lost. John David Weaver in his 1985 Ph.D. dissertation documented the cultural background of Pastorius' childhood and youth, and his reasons for emigrating to Pennsylvania in 1683. [11] More recently Princeton University professor Anthony Grafton has written about Pastorius as a representative of European intellectual culture.[12] Grafton's presidential address to the American Historical Association in 2012 was on Pastorius.[13] Weaver extensively revised his earlier research in a book available online (in PDF) at "Franz Daniel Pastorius and Transatlantic Culture: German Beginnings, Pennsylvania Conclusions," Potsdam, Germany, 2013.


  • The Pastorius Home Association, Inc. operates the Pastorius Haus in Bad Windsheim, Germany and the Pastorius House in Germansville, PA.[14]
  • The Pastorius Monument is located in Vernon Park in Northwest Philadelphia, PA.[15]
  • Pastorius Park is located in the Chestnut Hill section of Philadelphia, PA.[16]


  1. ^ "Francis Daniel Pastorius, Leader of Germantown settlement". Independence Hall Association. Retrieved November 8, 2015. 
  2. ^ "The Founding of Germantown". Making History Come Alive. Retrieved November 8, 2015. 
  3. ^ "Pastorius, Francis Daniel (1651-1720).". Davitt Publications. Retrieved November 8, 2015. 
  4. ^ "Franz Daniel Pastorius, Founder of Germantown". German National Tourist Board. Retrieved November 8, 2015. 
  5. ^ "Francis Daniel Pastorius Homestead— Building a Haven for Religious Freedom in Germantown". Historical Society of Pennsylvania. Retrieved November 8, 2015. 
  6. ^ a b Wikisource-logo.svg Gilman, D. C.; Thurston, H. T.; Colby, F. M., eds. (1905). "Pastorius, Francis Daniel". New International Encyclopedia (1st ed.). New York: Dodd, Mead. 
  7. ^ Alfred L. Brophy, "Francis Daniel Pastorius' Young Country Clerk's Collection and Anglo-American Legal Literature, 1682-1716," 3 University of Chicago Law School Roundtable 627-721 (1996).
  8. ^ Pennypacker, Samuel W, "The Settlement of Germantown and the Beginning of the German Emigration to North America", Philadelphia, William Campbell, 1899.
  9. ^ "Francis Daniel Pastorius papers". Historical Society of Pennsylvania. Retrieved November 8, 2015. 
  10. ^ "The Night of the Nazis". Montauk Life. Retrieved November 8, 2015. 
  11. ^ Marion Dexter Learned (1908). "The life of Francis Daniel Pastorius, the founder of Germantown". William J, Campbell. Retrieved November 8, 2015. 
  12. ^ Anthony Grafton, Jumping Through the Computer Screen, New York Review of Books.
  13. ^ Anthony Grafton The Republic of Letters in the American Colonies: Francis Daniel Pastorius Makes a Notebook, American Historical Review, February 2012.
  14. ^ "Pastorius-Haus in Bad Windsheim". German Americana. Retrieved November 8, 2015. 
  15. ^ "Monumental Complications in Germantown". City of Philadelphia. Retrieved November 8, 2015. 
  16. ^ "Pastorius Park". Citysearch. Retrieved November 8, 2015. 

Other sources[edit]

Writings by Pastorius[edit]

  • Deliciæ Hortenses, or Garden-Recreations, and Voluptates Apianæ, ed. Christoph E. Schweitzer (Columbia, South Carolina: Camden House, 1982).

External links[edit]