Pierpont, John

Pierpont, John an eminent American Unitarian divine, noted especially for his part in temperance and antislavery movements, was born in 1785 at Litchfield, Conn., and graduated at Yale College in 1804. The years immediately after his leaving college were occupied in teaching, a part of the time at the South aid afterwards in New England, and he then studied law and settled at Newburyport. The war of 1812 interfered with his professional prospects, and he forsook the law for business, but met with indifferent success both at Boston and Baltimore, and in 1818 he entered the Cambridge Divinity School. Less than a year after this time he was installed as pastor of the Hollis Street Unitarian Church at Boston, succeeding the Reverend Dr. Holley, and for twenty-five years he held the pastorate of that church. At first he was successful, popular, and strongly beloved by his people, but the latter part of his ministry was clouded with troubles and dissensions between himself and prominent men of his society on the temperance question, which were never amicably adjusted. While settled at Boston he visited Europe and Palestine. In 1845 he became the first pastor of the Unitarian Church at Troy, N.Y. After a four years' pastorate there he received a call to Medford, where was his last ministerial experience. After this he identified himself with the Spiritualists, having become an enthusiastic believer in animal magnetism. The breaking out of the rebellion found Mr. Pierpont at his home in Medford, but the wear and tear of over seventyfive years of life had not been sufficient to keep him quietly at his fireside while parishioners and friends were hastening to the front to uphold the government which he loved and honored. He sought a post of duty at once, and governor Andrew yielded to his request, and appointed him chaplain of the Twenty-second Regiment. The exposure of camp-life and duties on the field proved beyond his strength, and he was soon compelled to resign his place, much to his regret. Secretary Chase then appointed him to a clerkship in the treasury department, and his clerical duties were always faithfully performed, and he proved a valuable and efficient officer. He died in 1866, while yet in the employ of the government. Mr. Pierpont was a thorough scholar, a graceful and facile speaker, a poet of rare power and pathos, a most earnest advocate of the temperance and antislavery movements, and a man whose convictions, purposes, and impulses were always sincerely expressed. His strong desire for securing advancement and reform may have led him sometimes into injudicious steps, and diminished his influence for the causes he sought to advance, but his heart was always right; and temperance, freedom, and Christianity had no firmer and more consistent friend or advocate. He leaves an enviable reputation as a poet, and his pathetic "Passing Away" will live as long as our language is spoken or written. In addition to his poetical works, he published at Boston several popular school-readers, and some twenty occasional sermons and discourses. See Allibone, Dict. of Brit. and Amer. Authors, s.v.; Christian Examiner, November 1866, art. 5; Atltantic Monthly, December 1866; Appleton's Annual Cyclopaedia, 1866, page 617. (J.H.W.)

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