Bacon, Leonard, Dd, Lld
Bacon, Leonard, D.D., LL.D.
an eminent Congregational divine, was born Feb. 19, 1802, at Detroit, Mich., where his father, David, was at the time missionary to the Indians. He graduated at Yale College in 1820, and at Andover Theological Seminary in 1824, and in March, 1825, he became pastor of the Central, or First, Congregational Church in New Haven, Conn., a relation which continued for the remainder of his long life, although he became only pastor emeritus in September, 1866. At this latter date he was chosen acting professor of revealed theology in Yale College, and in 1871 lecturer in the same institution on ecclesiastical polity and American Church history. He died at New Haven, Dec. 24, 1881.
As a sermonizer Dr. Bacon was able, but not brilliant. But when any subject of contemporary interest engaged his attention and aroused his enthusiasm his sermons were powerful and convincing. Thus, although he was neither a great preacher nor a subtle theologian, he was a man of real force and decided individuality, who not only had much to do with shaping the course of his own denomination, but who also succeeded in directing the currents of public thought on many important questions. He loved an argument, not for the pleasure of displaying his dialectic skill, which was by no means small, but because he was thoroughly in earnest in what he believed, and thought and regarded it as a conscientious duty to argue his case with the heat and vigor of genuine conviction. He was ranked as a conservative in his views of Congregational polity and ecclesiastical government, and he had an antiquarian taste which predisposed him to habits of special research; but he always kept abreast of the time, and was often considerably in advance of it. His views on the slavery question, like all of his opinions, were well defined and vigorously promulgated. He early espoused the colonization scheme, and became the pillar of the society in New England. In his younger days he had considerable ability as a platform speaker, and he used that talent arduously in opposition to the abolitionists and their belief as expounded by William Lloyd Garrison. Dr. Bacon's views on colonization were materially modified about 1850. When the 'war broke out he took a decided stand for the Union, and met on common ground with the abolitionists. Dr. Bacon was long intimately connected with the government of Yale College, and had a large influence in deciding its general conduct. For many years he was a member of the college corporation. In regard to the college government he was extremely conservative, not favoring any great changes in the- curriculum or in the make-up of the corporation. Personally, Dr. Bacon was genial in manner, and had a quiet sort of humor that made his letters and controversial articles interesting to a wider public than a denominational preacher usually commands. Finally, and above all else, he was genuine in life and speech-a true friend to all humanity.
Dr. Bacon devoted much attention to journalism and authorship. From 1826 to 1838 be was one of the editors of the Christian Spectator, a religious magazine published at New Haven. In 1843 he aided in establishing the New-Englander, a bimonthly periodical, with which he was associated at the time of his death. In connection with Drs. Storrs and Thompson he founded the N. Y. Independent, remaining one of its editors until 1863, and, with a brief season of interruption, he continued to contribute to its columns until his death. Among his published works are, Life of Richard Baxter (New Haven, 1831, 1835, 2 vols. 8vo):--Manual
for Young Church Members (ibid. 1833, 18mo):-Historical Discourses (ibid. 1839) :-Slavery Discussed (N. Y. 1846, 8vo) :-Christian Self-culture (1843):-and very many addresses in pamphlet form. See N. Y. Evening- Post, Dec. 24, 1881; N. Y. Tribune, Dec. 25, 1881; Drake, Diet. of Am. Biog. s.v.; Allibone, Diet. of Brit. and Amer. Authors, s.v.