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 William Ellery Channing

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William Ellery Channing

  • Birth 7 Apr 1780 Newport, Newport County, Rhode Island, USA
  • Death 2 Oct 1842 Old Bennington, Bennington County, Vermont, USA
  • Cenotaph Bennington, Bennington County, Vermont, USA
  • Memorial ID 5417

Religious Figure. Sometimes called the "Father of American Unitarianism," he graduated from Harvard University at the top of the class of 1798, tutored in Virginia, returned to Harvard to study theology, and in 1803 became minister of Boston's Federal Street Church, where he served until 1842. Identified early in his career as a leader among New England's liberal clergy, he became spokesperson for the growing Unitarian movement within the Congregational Church. His 1819 "Unitarian Christianity," a sermon delivered at the ordination of Jared Sparks at Baltimore's First Independent Church, is often cited as the catalyst for the formal break the Unitarians made from the Congregational Church and the formation in 1825 of the American Unitarian Association. "Unitarian Christianity" clearly formulated Unitarian principles, explaining the Unitarian view of the scriptures and, with its Christian humanist underpinnings, promoting the importance of human reason. The sermon was immediately published in pamphlet form and went through eight editions within a few months. Though he did not consider himself a Transcendentalist, Channing was a strong influence on the American Transcendentalists. And though he did not consider himself a social activist, his writings on topics like poverty, slavery, and war influenced nineteenth-century thought and social justice.

Bio by: NatalieMaynor

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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Added: 15 May 1999
  • Find A Grave Memorial 5417
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for William Ellery Channing (7 Apr 1780–2 Oct 1842), Find A Grave Memorial no. 5417, citing Old Bennington Cemetery, Bennington, Bennington County, Vermont, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .