Edition of the Letters of Johann Ernst Bergmanns published

In February 2022, the English edition of the letters of Johann Ernst Bergmann (1755-1824), was published by Brill, Leiden and Boston.

Cover of the Edition

The edition is a cooperative project of the Francke Foundations with the Georgia Salzburg Society, Savannah (Georgia), and Prof. Russel C. Kleckley, Minneapolis (Minnesota). Johann Ernst Bergmann was the last pastor from Germany to be called to Georgia in 1786 to the parish of Ebenezer, founded more than half a century earlier by Salzburg emigrants. Due to the consequences of the War of Independence and the conflicts between his predecessors, he found the settlement in desolate condition. From the perspective of the German Lutheran pastor, who never felt completely at home in his new homeland, Bergmann vividly describes the problems of the young American democracy, which he viewed critically, political, economic, social, religious difficulties and contradictions, which are repeatedly brought to life through personal experiences.

The edition includes 60 letters, all of which, with the exception of one letter to George Washington (1732-1799), are in the archives of the Francke Foundations. The correspondence covers the period from Bergmann's departure in 1786 to 1822, two years before his death. It is supplemented by two letters written by Bergmann's son Christoph Friedrich (1793-1832) in 1828 and 1829. The letters were first transcribed in the foundation archives and then translated into English and annotated in the United States. The publication methodically follows the 2009 Edwin Mellen Press, Lewiston, et al. publication The letters of Johann Martin Boltzius, Lutheran Pastor in Ebenezer, Georgia. German pietist in colonial America, 1733-1765, which was also produced as a cooperative project between the Francke Foundations and the Georgia Salzburg Society.

A German-language edition of the edition, which will be published by the Francke Foundations in 2024, is in preparation. The letters can be viewed in the Digital Collections.

The Letters of Johann Ernst Bergmann, Ebenezer, Georgia, 1786–1824. Religion, Community, and the New Republic. Ed. by Russell C. Kleckley in cooperation with Jürgen Gröschl. Leiden/Boston 2022.