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McIlvaine, Charles Pettit (1799-1873), Episcopal bishop and evangelist  

Henry Warner Bowden

McIlvaine, Charles Pettit (18 January 1799–13 March 1873), Episcopal bishop and evangelist, was born in Burlington, New Jersey, the son of Maria Reed and Joseph McIlvaine, a prominent attorney. After attending a local academy, McIlvaine studied at the College of New Jersey in Princeton, from which he graduated with high honors in 1816. During those years he developed a deeply personal affirmation of religious principles and decided to become an Episcopal priest. He read theology at home until entering Princeton Theological Seminary in 1817, there being as yet no divinity school of his denomination in the country. Poor health forced him to leave after eighteen months, and he continued private study until 1820, when he received ordination as a deacon. While at home he organized and superintended one of the nation’s first Sunday schools. In 1820 McIlvaine accepted an invitation to serve as rector of Christ Church in Georgetown, District of Columbia. His preaching soon attracted public notice, and in 1821 he also served as chaplain to the U.S. Senate for a one-year term. In 1822 he married Emily Coxe, a friend since childhood; they had four children. The following year he was finally ordained a priest. Pursuing pastoral duties for a short time longer, he made an important career decision late in 1824, moving the following January to the U.S. Military Academy....