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Adams, William (25 January 1807–31 August 1880), minister and seminary president, was born in Colchester, Connecticut, the son of John Adams, an educator, and Elizabeth Ripley. Adams grew up in Andover, Massachusetts, where his father was the principal of Phillips Academy. He entered Yale College in 1824, where he received his A.B. in 1827. After college he returned home to study at Andover Theological Seminary and to assist his father in teaching. He completed his seminary training in 1830 and was ordained a Congregational minister. He began service as the pastor of a church in Brighton, Massachusetts, in 1831. He married Susan P. Magoun in July 1831. His wife’s illness forced him to resign from the Brighton pastorate in early 1834, but following her death in May, he accepted a ministerial call to the Broome Street (later Central) Presbyterian Church in New York City. Since the Congregational and Presbyterian denominations then enjoyed a spirit of mutual respect and cooperation, Adams switched denominations and was installed as pastor in November 1834. In August 1835 he married Martha B. Magoun, the sister of his first wife....

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Alexander, Archibald (17 April 1772–22 October 1851), theological scholar, was born in what is today Rockbridge County, Virginia, near Lexington, the son of William Alexander and Ann Reid, farmers. Alexander’s father was also a merchant. By local standards, the Alexanders enjoyed a solid affluence....

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Alison, Francis (1705–28 November 1779), Presbyterian minister and educator, was born in the parish of Leck, County Donegal, in the province of Ulster in Ireland, the son of Robert Alison, a weaver. His mother’s name is not known. Circumstantial evidence suggests that he was educated at one of the clandestine Presbyterian academies, probably that of Francis Hutcheson in Dublin. He received the bulk of his collegiate instruction before attending the University of Edinburgh, where he was awarded an M.A. in January 1733. He then studied divinity for two years, probably at the University of Glasgow, which awarded him a doctor of divinity degree in 1756, an honor that was usually extended only to an alumnus. Alison returned to Ireland and was licensed by the presbytery of Letterkenny in June 1735. He immediately sailed to Pennsylvania....

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Anderson, Matthew (25 January 1845–11 January 1928), Presbyterian pastor, educator, and social reformer, was born in Greencastle, Pennsylvania, the son of Timothy Anderson and Mary Croog. One of fourteen children, he was raised in the comforts of a rural, middle-class home, less than thirty miles from historic Gettysburg. On a typical day of his youth, he faced the physical demands of farm life and experienced the movement back and forth between two cultures. One, dominated by commerce and materialism, was uncharacteristically open to the Andersons, who owned lumber mills and real estate at a time when most black Americans were dehumanized and disenfranchised by chattel slavery. The other was a culture defined by close family ties and Presbyterian piety. At home Matthew heard Bible stories and dramatic tales of runaway slaves; indeed, religious piety and the pursuit of racial freedom were dominant themes in his life. These early experiences inspired Anderson so deeply that, by the time he left Greencastle in 1863, he had decided on the ministry as his vocation. Study at Oberlin College was the first step toward serving his religious faith, his racial group, and his vision of social justice....

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Armstrong, George Dod (15 September 1813–11 May 1899), minister and author, was born in Morris County, New Jersey, the son of Amzi Armstrong, a minister, and Polly Dod. After graduating from Princeton College in 1832, Armstrong taught school for three and a half years. Following graduation from Union Theological Seminary in Prince Edward County, Virginia, in 1837, he served as professor of general and agricultural chemistry and geology at Washington College (now Washington and Lee University) in Lexington, Virginia, from 1838 to 1851. For the next forty-eight years he pastored the First Presbyterian Church of Norfolk, Virginia. While conducting this long and effective ministry in Norfolk, Armstrong wrote on a wide variety of topics. His more than twenty books, published sermons, and addresses influenced southern opinion about many aspects of Christian theology and experience in the late nineteenth century....

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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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Baird, Charles Washington (28 August 1828–10 February 1887), Presbyterian minister and author, was born in Princeton, New Jersey, the son of Robert Baird, Jr., a Presbyterian minister and author, and Fermine Ophelia Amaryllis du Buisson. Baird’s childhood was divided between the United States and Western Europe. His earliest years were spent in Princeton and Philadelphia, but when he was small the family moved to Europe. Robert Baird worked for various evangelical associations to promote religious renewal in Europe; between 1835 and 1843 the Baird family made its home in Paris, France, or Geneva, Switzerland. This wide-ranging experience, very unusual for an American child in the early nineteenth century, combined with the family’s evangelical fervor, shaped Charles Baird in ways that would be critical for his most important contributions to American life....

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Baker, Daniel (17 August 1791–10 December 1857), minister and educator, was born in Midway, Georgia (now in Liberty County); his parents’ names are unknown. Orphaned at the age of fourteen, he moved to Savannah, Georgia, where he worked as a store clerk. The religious atmosphere of Savannah had an enormous influence on this young man, and he soon chose a career in the ministry. Baker also understood the importance of an education, and in 1811 he enrolled in Hampden-Sidney College in Virginia. In 1813 he continued his education at the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University), graduating in 1815....

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Balch, Hezekiah (1741– April 1810), Presbyterian minister, was born near Deer Creek, Harford County, Maryland, the son of John Balch, a farmer. His mother’s name is unknown. During childhood Balch moved with his parents to Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, and in 1758 he entered the College of New Jersey, largely through the influence of the Reverend John Rodgers, a noted Presbyterian clergyman who had conducted an evangelistic tour through the southern colonies. Following his graduation, Balch taught school briefly in Fauquier County, Virginia, but soon decided to study for the ministry. He was licensed to preach on 11 August 1768 by the New Castle (Del.) Presbytery. Returning to Virginia, he was ordained by the Hanover Presbytery, 8 March 1770, and spent his first years as an itinerant evangelist in both Virginia and North Carolina. When the Orange Presbytery was formed from Hanover later that year, Balch became one of its constituting members. At some point during the decade of the 1770s (the sources differ as to the exact year), he ministered briefly to a Presbyterian congregation in York County, Pennsylvania, but by 1782 he had returned to the South....

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Albert Barnes. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-113696).

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Barnes, Albert (01 December 1798–24 December 1870), Presbyterian pastor, was born in Rome, New York, the son of Rufus Barnes and Anna Frisby (also spelled Frisbie), farmers. After attending Fairfield Academy in Connecticut, Barnes entered the senior class at Hamilton College. His reading of Thomas Chalmer’s entry on the “Evidences of Christianity” in ...

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Barnhouse, Donald Grey (28 March 1895–05 November 1960), maverick Presbyterian Bible expositor and broadcaster, was born in Watsonville, California, the son of Theodore Barnhouse, a contractor, and Jane Ann Carmichael. Raised in a devout Methodist home, Barnhouse underwent a conversion experience in 1910. Two years later he enrolled at the Bible Institute of Los Angeles (later BIOLA), headed by the prominent revivalist/theologian ...

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Barrows, John Henry (11 July 1847–03 June 1902), minister and college president, was born near Medina, Michigan, the son of John Manning Barrows, a Congregational minister and college professor, and Bertha Anthony Butler, a teacher. He was educated by his parents and in the preparatory department of newly opened Olivet College, where his father became professor of natural science in 1860. Barrows graduated from the college in 1867 and with his brother Walter spent 1867–1868 at Yale Divinity School and the following year at Union Theological Seminary. His brother’s ill health then forced them to leave school and join their family in Osage County, Kansas....

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Beard, Richard (27 November 1799–02 December 1880), minister and educator, was born in Sumner County, Tennessee, the son of Adam Beard, a schoolteacher, and Caty Barclay. His mother died in 1804, and his father remarried. Beard’s parents were Presbyterians who came under the influence of the Second Great Awakening, a period of heightened revivalism that began at the end of the eighteenth century and extended into the early years of the nineteenth century. They later became members of the Cumberland Presbyterian church, a denomination that was a direct outgrowth of the revival movement, organized in Dickson, Tennessee, in 1810. Beard was converted and became a member of the New Hope Cumberland Presbyterian church in 1817. Beard was received as a candidate for the ministry by Nashville Presbytery in 1819, licensed in 1820, and ordained in 1822. Because his father was a teacher, Beard’s education had been “more extended than usual for the time in his church” (Crisman, p. 8), but he was required nonetheless to complete a tutorial program that was a prerequisite of the presbytery for anyone studying for the ministry. Candidates for the ministry were required to read and pass examinations on certain standard texts in general education and theology. Given the circumstances of the frontier, and due to the pressing need for ministers, this kind of educational preparation was sometimes accepted by the Cumberland Presbyterian church in lieu of a college degree....

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Lyman Beecher. Daguerreotype from the studio of Mathew B. Brady. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-109964).

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Beecher, Lyman (12 October 1775–10 January 1863), Protestant clergyman, was born in New Haven, Connecticut, the son of David Beecher, a blacksmith, and Esther Lyman. On his mother’s death within days of his birth, Lyman was sent to the Guilford, Connecticut, farm of a maternal aunt. Catharine and Lot Benton became his foster parents; David Beecher proved to be a distant and disparaging father....

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Beman, Nathan Sidney Smith (26 November 1785–06 August 1871), Presbyterian clergyman and educator, was born in New Lebanon, New York, the son of Samuel Beman and Silence Douglass. Beman matriculated at Williams College in 1803 but withdrew after the second term; following a year’s teaching at Fairhaven, Vermont, he continued his studies at Middlebury College. After graduation in 1807, Beman became preceptor at Lincoln Academy, Newcastle, Maine, where he studied theology with Kiah Bailey. He returned to Middlebury as tutor in 1809....

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Biederwolf, William Edward (29 September 1867–03 September 1939), Presbyterian evangelist, was born in Monticello, Indiana, the son of German immigrants Michael Biederwolf and Abolona Schnetzer. At the age of eighteen, while teaching at a public school located near Monticello, he made a public profession of faith in Jesus Christ and joined the Presbyterian church at Monticello. His conversion was strongly influenced by his experience in Sunday school and also by his sister Kate, whose death of tuberculosis at the age of twenty thwarted her own plans to become a missionary....

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Bishop, Robert Hamilton (26 July 1777–29 April 1855), Presbyterian minister and educator, was born at Cult, Linlithgowshire, near Edinburgh, Scotland, the son of William Bishop and Margaret Hamilton, tenant farmers. His parents were devout Presbyterians, and his father was an elder in the Associate Reformed church. He entered Edinburgh University in 1793 and completed his A.B. in 1798 with some financial assistance from his professors. He studied under James Finlayson and Dugald Stewart and imbibed their liberal outlook. Afterward he completed studies at the Associate church’s seminary at Selkirk. He was licensed by the presbytery of Perth in response to a call for ministers from the Associate Reformed church in the United States in 1802. Shortly before leaving for America that same year, he married Ann Ireland; they had eight children....

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Gideon Blackburn. Engraving by Peter Maverick. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-111788).