Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography/Ripley, Ezra

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RIPLEY, Ezra, clergyman, b. in Woodstock, Conn., 1 May, 1751; d. in Concord, Mass., 21 Sept., 1841. He was graduated at Harvard in 1776, taught, and subsequently studied theology, and in 1778 was ordained to the ministry in Concord, Mass., where he continued for sixty-three years, preaching his last sermon the day after his ninetieth birthday. Harvard gave him the degree of D. D, in 1818. Dr. Ripley was a leader in the temperance cause. At the time of his settlement in Concord the town was divided into two religious factions, but he quickly succeeded in binding them in a union that existed for nearly fifty years. He married the widow of the Rev. William Emerson, and his stepson, Ralph Waldo Emerson, said of him: “With a limited acquaintance with books, his knowledge was an external experience, an Indian wisdom. In him perished more personal and local anecdote of Concord and its vicinity than is possessed by any survivor, and in his constitutional leaning to their religion he was one of the rear-guard of the great camp and army of the Puritans.” He gave the land in 1836 upon which the monument is built to commemorate the battle of Concord, 19 April, 1775. From the Revolution for fifty years there was a controversy between Concord and Lexington for the honor of “making the first forcible resistance to British aggression.” Dr. Ripley wrote an interesting pamphlet on that subject, entitled a “History of the Fight at Concord,” in which he proved that, though the enemy had fired first in Lexington, the Americans fired first in his own town (Concord, 1827). He also published several sermons and addresses, and a “Half-Century Discourse” (1828).