Nicholas Collin


I was one of the few people who stayed neutral during the Revolution.

I was born in Sweden in 1746. After graduating from the University of Uppsala in 1768, I was ordained as a minister in the Lutheran Church of Sweden. In 1770, I came to America and became assistant rector of the Swedish Lutheran church in Swedesboro, Gloucester County.

In 1776, while I had earlier seen that most people had been eager to fight the British, the series of British victories in the New York campaign discouraged many people. One day, I witnessed some rebels shooting at a young man who refused to take up arms against the British, and I was appalled. I stepped in to stop the “dreadful” verbal attacks and their “mad, un-Christian behavior.”

As a Swedish citizen, I could not swear loyalty to another government and I was allowed to remain neutral. Several times I was arrested as a suspected Loyalist, but each time I was given my freedom when calmer men spoke up for me. I can say that the war was very difficult and “everywhere distrust, fear, hatred and abominable selfishness were met with.”

In 1786, I moved to Philadelphia and, because of my interest in so many things, in 1789, I was accepted as a member of the American Philosophical Society, founded by Ben Franklin. I lived a full life until my death in 1831.


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