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Bacon, John (09 April 1738–25 October 1820), Presbyterian clergyman and public official, was born in Canterbury, Connecticut, the son of John Bacon and Ruth Spaulding. He graduated from the College of New Jersey (later Princeton University) in 1765 in preparation for the ministry. During his stay at the college, Princeton had become noteworthy for the curriculum innovations of its president, ...

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Galamison, Milton Arthur (25 Mar. 1923–9 Mar. 1988), Presbyterian minister, civil rights leader, and community activist, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to Gladstone Galamison, a postal worker, and Dorothy Galamison, a clothier. Galamison grew up in poverty, which he attributed not to the Great Depression but rather to his father’s abandoning his family. After his parents separated Galamison lived with his maternal grandmother and aunt....

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Gibbs, Jonathan C. (1827–14 August 1874), clergyman, educator, and politician, was born free in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of Maria Jackson and Jonathan C. Gibbs, a Methodist minister. He learned carpentry as a youth and followed that trade until the Presbyterian Assembly helped him enroll at Dartmouth College in 1848. Gibbs, who was one of only two black students at Dartmouth, claimed that he had been rejected by eighteen colleges before being accepted. After graduating from Dartmouth in 1852 he attended the Princeton Theological Seminary. He was ordained as a Presbyterian minister and pastored churches in Troy, New York, and in Philadelphia. While in New York Gibbs campaigned for the extension of black suffrage in the state. When he moved to Philadelphia in 1859 he became prominent in the local Underground Railroad. During the Civil War he joined the freedmen’s relief efforts, campaigned against segregated city streetcars, encouraged black enlistments in the army, served as vice president of the Pennsylvania State Equal Rights League, and continued his participation in the black convention movement. He represented Philadelphia at the black national convention in Syracuse in 1864, which severely criticized the Republican party for its failure to endorse black suffrage and which gave birth to the National Equal Rights League....

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van Dyke, Henry (10 November 1852–10 April 1933), Presbyterian minister, poet, and diplomat, was born in Germantown, Pennsylvania, the son of Henry Jackson van Dyke, a prominent Presbyterian minister, and Henrietta Ashmead, the daughter of a notable Philadelphia attorney. Van Dyke studied at the Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn and attended Princeton College, where he wrote Princeton’s “Triangle Song,” received a B.A. in 1873, and earned an M.A. in 1876. The following year he graduated from Princeton Seminary and then studied at the University of Berlin for two years before being ordained a Presbyterian minister....

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John Witherspoon. Lithograph after a painting by Charles Willson Peale, c. 1838–1843. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-104656).

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Witherspoon, John (05 February 1723–15 November 1794), Presbyterian minister, college president, and American patriot, was born in the village of Gifford in the parish of Yester, Scotland, eighteen miles east of Edinburgh Castle, the son of James Witherspoon, a minister of the Church of Scotland, and Anne (or Anna) Walker. At home Witherspoon was instructed in the New Testament and the hymns of Isaac Watts and early developed a facility for rapid, accurate memorization. He entered the University of Edinburgh when only thirteen and received a master of arts in February 1739. He then studied theology, was licensed to preach on 6 September 1743, and in January 1745 was called as minister of the Church of Scotland parish in Beith, Ayrshire. The next year he helped raise troops to fight against Charles Stuart, the Young Pretender, but rebel forces captured him when he went to observe the battle of Falkirk. He underwent a brief but harsh imprisonment in Castle Doune near Stirling that permanently damaged his nervous system. In 1748 he married Elizabeth Montgomery; they had ten children, five of whom died during childhood....

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Wright, Theodore Sedgwick (1797–25 March 1847), black Presbyterian minister and reformer, was born in New Jersey and brought up in Schenectady, New York, the son of R. P. G. Wright, an early opponent of the American Colonization Society’s program of returning American blacks to Africa. (His mother’s name is unknown.) He was named after a distinguished Massachusetts jurist, ...

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Zubly, John Joachim (27 August 1724–23 July 1781), clergyman, politician, and pamphleteer, was born in St. Gall, Switzerland, the son of David Zubly, a Reformed minister, and Helena (maiden name unknown). After completing his studies at the Gymnasium there, he followed his father to London and was ordained at the German Church in London on 19 August 1744. That same year he joined the Swiss German migration to Purrysburg, South Carolina, settling with his father and other Zubly family members who had removed there in 1736. Zubly preached among Swiss-, German-, and English-speaking settlers in South Carolina and Georgia and assisted the Reverend ...