Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography/Conway, Moncure Daniel

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CONWAY, Moncure Daniel, author, b. in Stafford county, Va., 17 March, 1832. His father was a magistrate and a member of the Virginia legislature; his mother a daughter of Surgeon-General Daniel. He received his early education at Fredericksburg academy, and was graduated at Dickinson college, Pa., in 1849, where he united with the Methodist church. He began the study of law at Warrenton, Va., and while there wrote for the Richmond “Examiner,” of which his cousin, John M. Daniel, was editor, in support of extreme southern opinions. He abandoned the law to enter the Methodist ministry, joined the Baltimore conference in 1850, was appointed to the Rockville circuit, and in 1852 to Frederick circuit. He was a contributor to the “Southern Literary Messenger,” and published a pamphlet entitled “Free Schools in Virginia,” in which he advocated the adoption of the New England common-school system. Having undergone a change of political and religious convictions, partly through the influence of a settlement of Quakers among whom he lived, he left the Methodist ministry and entered the divinity-school at Cambridge, Mass., where he was graduated in 1854. He then returned to Virginia, in the hope of preaching his humanitarian ideas and transcendental and rationalistic doctrines; but upon reaching Falmouth, where his parents resided, was obliged by a band of neighbors to leave the state under threats because he had befriended Anthony Burns, a fugitive slave from the same district. The same year he became pastor of the Unitarian church in Washington, D. C., where he preached until he was dismissed on account of some anti-slavery discourses, especially one delivered after the assault on Senator Sumner. In 1857 he was settled over the Unitarian church in Cincinnati, Ohio. There he published, among other pamphlets, “A Defence of the Theatre” and “The Natural History of the Devil.” The publication of books on slavery and its relation to the civil war led to an invitation to lecture on this subject in New England, as he had already lectured gratuitously throughout Ohio. During the war his father's slaves escaped from Virginia and were settled by him in Yellow Springs, Ohio. He was for a time editor of the Boston “Commonwealth.” In 1863 he went to England to enlighten the British public in regard to the causes of the war, and there wrote and lectured as a representative of the anti-slavery opinions of the north. He also contributed to “Fraser's Magazine” and the “Fortnightly Review.” Toward the close of 1863 he became the minister of South Place religious society in London, remaining there until he returned to the United States in 1884. He was long the London correspondent of the Cincinnati “Commercial.” “The Rejected Stone, or Insurrection versus Resurrection in America,” first appeared under the pen-name “A Native of Virginia,” and attracted much attention before the authorship became known. “The Golden Hour” was a similar work. Mr. Conway was a frequent contributor to the daily liberal press in England, and has written extensively for magazines in that country and in the United States. A series of articles entitled “South Coast Saunterings in England” appeared in “Harper's Magazine” in 1868-'9. He has published in book form “Tracts for To-day” (Cincinnati, 1858); “The Rejected Stone” (Boston, 1861); “The Golden Hour” (1862); “Testimonies concerning Slavery” (London, 1865); “The Earthward Pilgrimage,” a moral and doctrinal allegory (London and New York, 1870); “Republican Superstitions,” a theoretical treatise on politics, in which he objects to the extensive powers conferred on the president of the United States by the Federal constitution, and advocates, with Louis Blanc, a single legislative chamber (London, 1872); “The Sacred Anthology,” a selection from the sages and sacred books of all ages (London and New York, 1873); “Idols and Ideals” (London and New York, 1877); “Demonology and Devil-Lore” (1879); “A Necklace of Stories” (London, 1880); “The Wandering Jew and the Pound of Flesh” (London and New York, 1881); “Thomas Carlyle” (1881).