Bellows, Henry Whitney Dd
Bellows, Henry Whitney D.D.
an eminent Unitarian divine, was born in Boston, June 11, 1814. His ancestors were among the early colonists of Massachusetts Bay. The name is "said to be French in origin, and the French spelling to be Belles-eaux." Tradition assigns the same origin to the New England family of Ballou. Dr. Bellows's great-grandfather was the Bellows from whom Bellows Falls, Vt., takes its name. John, Bellows, the father of Dr. Bellows, was an eminent merchant of Boston. Losing his mother at the age of seven years, he was sent to a boarding-school at Jamaica Plains, near Boston; After spending a year or two at this school, he was sent into the country at Walpole, where he remained a year. Subsequently he spent four years at the celebrated school conducted by Dr. Cogswell and George Bancroft, at Round Hill, Mass. He embodied his grateful reminiscences of this seminary, in a paper contributed to The Harvard Register. He entered Harvard College in 1828. Dr. Hale says: "He was a delicate boy. I have heard him say that he was indisposed to the sports of boys, shy and timid, small for his age, extremely sensitive to blame, rather dreamy and solitary, homesick at school and at college." He was only fourteen when he entered college, but so well advanced was he that he had small occasion for study; and during two years he studied very little, but passed his days often in the practical pursuit of ornithology, in company with Mr. Nuttall, the naturalist, in the neighboring fields and marshes. After his entrance upon his junior year he read more and studied harder. He became also interested in religious matters, for which he had a natural proclivity. It is stated that when only seven years old he had resolved to be a clergyman. After graduation, Dr. Bellows occupied a year as an assistant in a school for girls kept by his brother John, at Cooperstown, N. Y., teaching French, German, Italian, Greek; and mathematics. He then entered the Divinity School at Cambridge, leaving it to go to Louisiana as the tutor of a young gentleman named Baldwin. His father, through commercial reverses,, had lost his wealth, and the son desired to support himself. He returned to Cambridge in 1835, and completed the course at the, Divinity School, supporting himself by teaching private pupils. After his graduation in divinity he went to take charge of a congregation at Mobile, Ala. As he proceeded to this station, he preached in various Southern cities. At Mobile his preaching met with considerable success, but Dr. Hale says that "the awfill shadow of slavery frightened him away." Soon after his return to the North, Dr. Bellows was invited to become pastor of the First Congregational Church (Unitarian) in Chambers Street, New York. The salary offered him was not large, yet he accepted the invitation and went vigorously to his work. He was ordained in 1838, and kept his position until tne day of his death, a period of forty-four years. During this time the Church, always growing, has removed, first to Broadway, and afterwards to the Church of All Souls. This success was attained only by hard work, by extraordinary devotion to the duties of his calling,. and by a persistence which overcame every obstacle. As a pastor he had few superiors; in his pulpit work. he was popular. He died Jan. 30, 1882.
Few men were more widely or more favorably known in New York than Dr. Bellows. He was eminently social, and his was a familiar and friendly face and speech at all times and upon all public occasions. He was naturally gregarious, and liked to feel himself near to the current of passing events and contemporary interests. When the War of the Rebellion broke out, Dr. Bellows suggested the Sanitary Commission, and he became its president. At first the Commission confined itself to distributing valuable tracts, but the scope of its operations was soon enlarged. It received generous gifts from wealthy citizens, while the poor gave their mite. It established hospital transports, wagons, ambulances, railway ambulance-cars. It aided the transferance of the wounded soldier from the battle-field to the hospital. On the railroads it had its hospital cars, kitchens, dispensaries, and surgeons' cars. It had its sanitary and hospital inspectors. It cared everywhere for sick or needy soldiers, in or out of active service. It had Homes for the wives, mothers, and children of soldiers. It had "feeding stations" where the tired and hungry soldier could receive a gratuitous meal. It looked after the payment of pensions, back-pay, and bounties. It printed hospital directories. It supplied, whenever permitted to do so, our prisoners at Andersonville, Salisbury, and Richmond. Its medicines, cordials, and provisions were upon every flag-of-truce boat. In the camps, it extended its mercies to the Confederate prisoners-of-war. It expended $3,000, 000 in money, and dispensed many millions' worth of supplies. Of this most useful and beneficent society Dr. Bellows was the persistent and active spirit. It is said that while travelling hither and thither in its behalf he never failed to preach on Sunday in the Church of All Souls, except when he went to California and brought back its gift of $1,000, 000 to the Commission. So wide was the range of its work that its affairs were not fairly closed until 1878, when Dr. Bellows deposited its archives in the Astor Library. Civil-service reform and like subjects found a strong advocate in Dr. Bellows. He was one of the founders of the Union League Club, and one of the original members of the Century Club. He was also a member of various other associations, such as the New England Society, the New York Historical Society, the Phi Beta Kappa Society, and the Harvard Alumni Association. His labors in connection with the Unitarian Church in this country can hardly be overestimated. He was the first president of the National Unitarian Conf. when it was formed in 1865, which position he held until 1879.
Dr. Bellows was the chief originator of The Christian Inquirer, a Unitarian newspaper published in New York and started in 1846. He devoted himself with great energy to the establishment of Antioch College, in Ohio. In 1853 he delivered the Phi Beta Kappa oration at Harvard College. He also delivered the annual sermon before the Divinity School at Cambridge. In 1857 he gave a course of Lowell lectures in Boston on the "Treatment of Social Diseases," which was published in book form. The same year he delivered another series of lectures in the Academy of Music, New York, on the "Relations of the Theatre to the Public Interest," which was likewise printed in volume. In 1866 he was editor of The Christian Examiner, and kept this position until 1871. His Restatements of Christian Doctrine was published in 1860. After a journey abroad he published The Old World in its New Face (1868, 2 vols.). He also published a large number of pamphlets. His life has been too usefully busy to permit the production of many books. See N. Y. Tribune, Jan. 31, 1882; Duyckinek, Cyclop. of Amer. Lit. 2, 776. Bellows, Thomas, an English Wesleyan preacher, died April 16, 1833, aged twenty-four, and in the first year of his ministry, He was "a young man of deep piety and good abilities." See Minutes of the British Conference, 1833.