Elihu Palmer (1788-1789)
Elihu Palmer was born in 1763 near Norwich, Connecticut. He studied divinity briefly with Rev. Dr. John Foster of Massachusetts. Soon after, at the age of 25, Palmer agreed to come to FPCN as a stated supply. Palmer displayed good qualifications for office: "a strong, musical voice, eloquent and solemn in his address, and evincing much ardor and sincerity."
However, Palmer soon revealed his distaste for orthodox Presbyterian doctrine. Nineteenth-century historian James Riker recalled that Palmer once told the Riker family that he did not believe in the doctrine of original sin. Riker soon left FPCN, becoming a Universalist and then a Deist. In Philadelphia, Palmer tried to preach that Jesus was not divine. Palmer "was forcibly restrained" by the crowd listening to him.
Palmer left the ministry and became an attorney in Philadelphia. A yellow fever epidemic in that city in 1792 killed his wife and made Palmer blind. Forced to quit his law practice, Palmer traveled across the United States preaching Deism. In 1806, Palmer died at age 42 in Philadelphia.