Louis Timothee

Louis Timothee

Louis Timothee was a prominent Colonial American printer in the Colony of Pennsylvania, who worked for Benjamin Franklin. Frasca, pp. 73-76 ]

Early life

Timothee was born in Holland to French Huguenot parents. He learned the trade of printing as a young man growing up in Holland. Timothee learned numerous languages and was fluent in German, French, and English as well as his native tongue of Dutch. He had married a lady in Holland named Elizabeth. They emigrated to Philadelphia in September of 1731 with four children. The month after arriving Timothee advertised in the "Pennsylvania Gazette" his intention to open a "Publick French School; he will also, if required, teach the said language to any young gentlemen or ladies, at their Lodgings."

Mid life

Timothee's printing career started just following the departure for Carolina of Thomas Whitmarsh, a journeyman in Benjamin Franklin's printing business, whom Franklin funded as a silent partner when Whitmarsh began the "South-Carolina Gazette" in Charleston. [Leonard Woods Labaree, Edmund Sears Morgan, eds. "The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin", "Biographical Notes", "s.v." "Whitmarsh, Thomas".] Franklin had an opening for a journeyman in his Philadelphia shop in 1733. Timothee had linguistic abilities and was knowledgeable in the printing trade. Franklin decided to hire Timothee based on these talents since he needed a new printer partner right away. To avoid tipping off his competitors with whom Franklin exchanged other newspapers of Charles Towne printers, Franklin never announced Whitmarsh's death in the "Pennsylvania Gazette", but just went ahead and hired Timothee as his replacement. [ Journalism Quarterly, Item notes: v.9 1932, pp. 259-260, Association for Education in Journalism ]

Franklin hired Timothee by November 1733 on almost the same terms that Whitmarsh had with him as a partner. Timothee probably was already working in Franklin's shop by February 1732. Since Timothee was fluent in German, soon after he was working at Franklin's shop in 1732 Timothee translated into English for publication a lengthy German letter. He had done such a good job at this Franklin shortly afterward assigned Timothee responsibility for a short-lived German-language newspaper. [Julius Friedrich Sachse, "The German Sectarians of Pennsylvania", p. 316, Printed for the author, 1899, Item notes: v. 1]

In 1732 also Franklin arranged for Timothee to serve as a part-time librarian for the Library Company of Philadelphia, one of Franklin's first philanthropic projects. Franklin started the library July 1, 1731. There was no librarian until November 14, 1732, cite web|url= http://www.sheilaomalley.com/archives/008974.html|title= Today in History: November 14, 1732|accessdate= 2008-08-27] when Timothee was hired as the first salaried librarian in the American colonies. [ Hudson, p. 41 "Louis Timothee had served as the first librarian of America's first public library."] He was paid three pounds sterling every trimester. He worked every Wednesday from two to three o'clock and every Saturday from ten to four.

Later life and death

Timothee had anglicized his name to Lewis Timothy in April of 1734. [ Hudson et al, p. 41 ] In Franklin's Philadelphia shop Timothee continued Whitmarsh's practice of reprinting essays encouraging people to be optimistic and virtuous. One day in 1739 Timothy informed his readers that his publication of a pamphlet was delayed "by reason of Sicknes, myself and Son having been visited with this Fever, that reigns at present, so that neither of us hath been capable for some time of working much at the Press." Timothee died two months after this announcement. He may have contracted the deadly yellow fever, but there are no records to show this for sure. In fact on January 4, 1739, the "South-Carolina Gazette" noted that the cause of his death was "an unhappy accident."

Timothy had anticipated the likelihood of his own demise because three previous South Carolina printers had died soon after arriving in the colony. He had put in a special clause inserted in the Franklin partnership contract that his eldest son Peter could succeed him if he prematurely died. Peter was just thirteen years old when Timothy died. He was then training as an apprentice with his father, however was too inexperienced yet to take over the business. Franklin agreed to take on Elizabeth Timothy, the wife of Timothy, as a partner until Peter was capable of running the shop. [ "Benjamin Franklin, Printer" By John Clyde Oswald, p. 139, Doubleday, Page & Company, 1917] When Elizabeth became Franklin's printer partner she had six children. When Peter was twenty-one years old he took over the partnership his father had with Franklin and worked closely with Franklin for over the next thirty years.

Notes

Bibliography

* Frasca, Ralph, ‘’ Benjamin Franklin's Printing Network: Disseminating Virtue in Early America’’, University of Missouri Press, 2006, ISBN 0-8262161-4-5
* Hudson, Frederic et al, "American Journalism:a history of newspapers in the United States through 250 years, 1690-1940", Routledge, 2000, ISBN 0-4152289-3-X


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