Cone Spencer Houghton, Dd
Cone Spencer Houghton, D.D., an eminent Baptist minister, was born in Princeton, N. J., April 30, 1785. His early education was carefully conducted, and at twelve years of age he entered Princeton College. Two years after, through his father's failure in business, he was compelled to leave college, and devoted himself to teaching, first in Princeton, then in Burlington, and finally (under Dr. Abercrombie) in Philadelphia. Here he began to study law; but his fine powers of elocution led him in 1805 to become an actor. He "trod the boards" with distinction for eight years, and then was suddenly converted, and was baptized by immersion Feb. 4, 1814. Obtaining a government clerkship in Washington, he removed thither, and began to preach within a year after his baptism. In 1815-16 he was chaplain to Congress, and immediately became pastor of a Baptist church at Alexandria, D. C. In 1823 he accepted a call from the Oliver Street Baptist Church, New York, where he remained until 1841, when he became pastor of the First Baptist Church, which built a new edifice in Broome Street. In this charge he remained until his death, Aug. 28, 1855. Dr. Cone's career as a preacher was very brilliant. He spoke with great ease, with a rich, sonorous voice, and very appropriate and expressive gestures. In doctrine he was a Calvinist, and a strenuous advocate of Baptist views, but yet courteous and charitable to all Christians. His preaching and pastoral labor exhausted but a small part of his activities. He took a deep interest in missions, was a member of the Baptist Board, and was president of the Convention from 1832 to 1841. He did his utmost to avert the disruption of the Convention in 1845 through the slavery disputes. He was also an officer of the Baptist Home Missionary Society from its beginning in 1832 to 1855. For many years he was active in the service of the American Bible Society, but on the formation of the Baptist (American and Foreign) Bible Society in 1836, which he aided greatly in organizing, he was made its president. On the refusal of this society to embark in the enterprise of "Bible Revision," so called, he seceded from it in order to form the American Bible Union, one of the chief objects of which was to substitute "immerse" for "baptize" in the versions of Scripture. — Sprague, Annals, 6:656.