This letter was written by John F. McLaren (1802-1882). McLaren wrote the letter from Hagerstown, Maryland, just before accepting a call to the ministry in the Presbyterian Society of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. McLaren was the fourth chancellor of the University of Pittsburgh (then called the Western University of Pennsylvania), serving from 1855 to 1858, although McLaren’s official title at the time was “Principal” which was a holdover from the institutions academy days. McLaren took over the leadership of university following the suspension of its operations in 1849 after, for the second time in less than five years, a major Pittsburgh fire had destroyed the university’s buildings, equipment, and records. The university reopened in 1854. McLaren was formally inaugurated as Principal on December 19, 1856.
McLaren wrote the letter to A. Getty who probably represented the Presbyterian Society in Pittsburgh and was charged with communicating with Rev. McLaren.
Addressed to Mr. A. Getty, Care of Hon. W. Kerr, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
February 12, 1846
My Dear Sir,
A few days since I received a letter from my friend Dr. [William] Kerr giving me the result of the meeting of the congregation for the choice of a pastor. I answered the letter making enquiry on the subject of salary & the probability of a unanimous concurrence in the call & expressing a willingness to take the pastoral charge of that interesting church. The Dr. hinted that probably I would receive a letter from yourself in relation to the business. I am aware of the pressure of business on the Dr., since his accession to the office of Mayor & have thought it advisable to write you to say that in case the call is made out, it will be necessary to take some measures for procuring a house for my occupancy. I would also suggest that probably I should be in Pittsburg by the time that the Presbytery meets & present my credentials from the Presbytery of Philadelphia at that time. I have written to Br. Dales to obtain them & they will be forthcoming immediately.
If nothing unforeseen occurs, I think I could leave here as well about the 1st of April as any other time. The congregation here have, of course, been able to conjecture that state of affairs with me. This session I have candidly informed of all the business & of my position relative to your church. I believe they still hope to retain me & probably will entertain this until the thing is definitely settled. And, on the whole, for all concerned, I think it best to bring the matter to a close as soon as convenient.
Please write me if Dr. Kerr has not already done so, the purpose of the Trustees in regard to salary, &c. I have been expecting a letter for two or three days & I only wait for the necessary information on the points before alluded to, to make up my mind at once & finally on the subject.
I was really sorry when I found that the called meeting of the Presbytery of Carlisle in this place proved a failure, that I had not tarried with you another week. It would have given me great pleasure to have united wit that church in the celebration of the Lord’s Supper. I hope you had a good time under the blessing of the Head of the Church. Were there many added to the church? I see by the “Preacher” that my young Br. Brown has been addressing the Missionary Society. That must be a very efficient society. The youth are the hope of the church. Soon the fathers will be removed to the Upper Sanctuary. May the Lord raise up a seed to serve him of their children.
Please write me soon. Even if, before this reaches you, a letter may have been sent by the Dr., yet I should be pleased to have one from yourself. I feel desirous to have a state of suspense terminated as soon as it can properly be done, not only on my own account, but also — & chiefly — out of regard to my people here who I know feel very anxious about it.
Remember me very kindly to your good lady & also to all the Brethren of the Session, & believe me very truly your friend, — John F. McLaren