Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography/Emerson, William

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EMERSON, William, clergyman, b. in Concord, Mass., 6 May, 1769; d. in Boston, Mass., 12 May, 1811. He was the father of Ralph Waldo Emerson. William was graduated at Harvard in 1789, and after teaching for two years returned to Cambridge as a student of divinity. He had been there but a few months when he began preaching, and on 23 May, 1792, was ordained pastor of the Unitarian church at Harvard, Mass. In 1799 he received a call from the 1st church in Boston, and remained there until his death. Of his abilities as a pulpit orator, Mr. George Ticknor wrote in 1849: “Mr. Emerson possessed a graceful and dignified style of speaking, which was by no means without its attraction, but he lacked the fervor that could rouse the masses, and the original resources that could command the few.” He was the founder and active promoter of the “Christian Monitor” society, whose publications were issued periodically for many years. In 1804 he undertook, in conjunction with several friends, a literary periodical, the precursor of “The North American Review,” entitled “The Monthly Anthology and Boston Review,” which was published until 1810, and enlisted some of the best talent in New England. Mr. Emerson's theological views were liberal, but he was always tolerant toward those who differed from him most widely. In addition to numerous sermons, he printed an “Oration Pronounced at Boston, 4 July, 1802”; a “Discourse before the Humane Society” (1807); and a “Selection of Psalms and Hymns” for use in churches (1808). After his death, his “History of the First Church in Boston,” with two sermons appended, was issued (1812).