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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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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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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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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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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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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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Aaron Burr. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-102555).

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Burr, Aaron (04 January 1716–24 September 1757), Presbyterian minister and college founder, was born in Upper Meadows, Fairfield, Connecticut, the son of Daniel Burr, a prosperous farmer, and his wife Elizabeth. (By the Old Style form of dating, his year of birth was 1715.) After graduating from Yale College in 1735, he remained in New Haven to study theology, during which time he was caught up in the colonial revival of religion known as the Great Awakening. With several other Yale classmates, Burr underwent a moving personal conversion and also came under the influence of the most capable defender of the Awakening, ...

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Caldwell, David (22 March 1725–25 August 1824), Presbyterian minister, self-trained physician, and schoolmaster, was born in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, the son of Andrew Caldwell and Ann Stewart, farmers. At the age of seventeen Caldwell became a carpenter’s apprentice and four years later a journeyman carpenter. At age twenty-five he experienced a religious conversion and a call to the ministry. He studied at the Reverend ...

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Campbell, William Henry (14 September 1808–07 December 1890), college president and clergyman, was born in Baltimore, Maryland, the son of William Campbell, a merchant, and Ann Ditchfield. His mother died when Campbell was less than a month old, and he was subsequently raised by his sisters. After attending a private academy conducted by the Reverend John Gibson, he continued his education at Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, graduating in 1828. Anticipating a career in the ministry, Campbell studied at Princeton Theological Seminary but left abruptly in 1829 when his father declared bankruptcy. Denied the opportunity for formal instruction, he continued his studies under his brother-in-law, the Reverend Thomas M. Strong, who later obtained for Campbell the post of assistant teacher at Erasmus Hall in the Flatbush section of Brooklyn, New York. In 1831 Campbell secured his license to preach from the Second Presbytery of New York, and also that year he married Katherine Elsie Schoonmaker. They had four children....

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Carrick, Samuel Czar (17 July 1760–17 August 1809), Presbyterian minister and educator, was born in York (now Adams) County, Pennsylvania. Nothing is known of his parents. Shortly after his birth his family moved to Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley, where he studied under the tutelage of the Reverend William Graham at Liberty Hall (now Washington and Lee College). He was a member of the school’s first graduating class. In 1779 he married Elizabeth Moore, and they had three children. In 1782 Carrick was licensed to preach by the New Providence Presbyterian Church, and the following year he was ordained and installed as minister of the Rocky Spring and Wahab Presbyterian Church in Augustana County, Virginia....

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William Cassady Cattell. With the page boys whom he tutored in Albemarle, Virginia. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ6-2025).

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Cattell, William Cassady (30 August 1827–11 February 1898), clergyman and college president, was born in Salem, New Jersey, the son of Thomas Ware Cattell, a merchant and banker, and Keziah Gilmore. Cattell received his early education at local schools and also studied under a brother in Virginia for two years. He returned home to enter the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University), from which he graduated with an A.B. in 1848. After spending a year teaching in Goochland County, Virginia, he again returned to New Jersey, entering the Princeton Theological Seminary, where he completed his studies in 1852. Cattell remained in Princeton for the following academic year and undertook special Oriental studies with Professor ...

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Chavis, John (1763–13 June 1838), Presbyterian minister and teacher, was born in Granville County, North Carolina; the names of his parents are unknown. He grew up as a free black near Mecklenberg, Virginia. By his own account, Chavis was born free and was a revolutionary war army veteran. Details of his military service and the events of his life immediately following the war are not known, but he began his studies for the Presbyterian ministry in 1792 at the age of twenty-nine. According to an apocryphal account, one planter had a wager with another that it was impossible to educate a black man. In order to settle their dispute, they sent Chavis to the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University). More than likely, Chavis’s religious fervor and potential for scholarship attracted the attention of Presbyterian leaders in Virginia, who believed a black clergyman might do a better job of evangelizing slaves and free blacks than white ministers....

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Chew, Ng Poon (28 April 1866–13 March 1931), clergyman and lecturer, was born in Guangdong Province, China, the son of Ng Yip and Wong Shee. His Chinese name was Wu P’ang-tsao. He was raised by his grandmother in a poor Chinese village. Hoping that he would become a Taoist priest, his grandmother sent him to a Taoist shrine, but the most significant event in the development of his personal dreams came about in 1879, when one of his uncles returned to China after spending eight years in California. The stories his uncle told, plus the inspiration provided by the sight of 800 Mexican dollars that his uncle had brought home, motivated Chew, like so many members of his generation in China, to go to the United States....

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Samuel Hanson Cox. Daguerreotype from the studio of Mathew B. Brady. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZC4-4152).

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Cox, Samuel Hanson (25 August 1793–02 October 1880), New School Presbyterian minister and educator, was born in Rahway, New Jersey, the son of James Cox, a merchant, and Elizabeth Shepard. The Coxes were Quakers, descended from a family that had immigrated to Maryland from England in the seventeenth century. Cox grew up in Philadelphia and received his early education at the Friends’ Academy in Westtown, Pennsylvania. After working briefly as a store clerk, he studied to become a lawyer in Newark, New Jersey. During the War of 1812, he saw combat sporadically as a volunteer rifleman....

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Davies, Samuel (03 November 1723–04 February 1761), Presbyterian minister, author, and educator, was born in the Welsh Tract in Pencader Hundred, New Castle County, Delaware, the son of David Davies (whose family name appears also as David and Davis) and Martha Thomas, farmers. After his mother shifted her allegiance from the Baptists to the Presbyterians, Davies enrolled at the classical academy conducted by the Reverend Samuel Blair at Fagg’s Manor, Pennsylvania. Blair, one of America’s best teachers of the mid-eighteenth century, trained Davies thoroughly in the classics, initiated him into the experiential piety of revivalistic Calvinism, and prepared him for the Presbyterian ministry. Shortly after Davies finished his study with Blair, he was licensed by the New Side (or revivalistic) Presbytery of New Castle on 30 July 1746. Later that year he married Sarah Kirkpatrick, who died giving birth on 15 September 1747....

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Doak, Samuel (01 August 1749–12 December 1830), Presbyterian minister and educator, was born in Augusta County, Virginia, the son of Samuel Doak and Jane Elizabeth Mitchell, farmers who had emigrated from northern Ireland. Doak began his classical studies at age sixteen under Robert Alexander, founder of Augusta Academy (now Washington and Lee University), and later attended West Nottingham Academy in Colora, Maryland, where he paid some of his expenses by working as an assistant teacher. In 1773 he entered the College of New Jersey (now Princeton), where he studied with ...