Samuel Barrett Stewart, the Essex Conference, and the Remaking of American Unitarianism, 1865-1892
DAVID K. NARTONIS


The author is indebted to Dean Grodzins of The Journal of Unitarian Universalist History and Frances O’Donnell, Clifford Wunderlich and Gloria Korsman of the Harvard Divinity School for patient help with this study.

In 1865, delegates at the founding meeting of the National Conference of Unitarian Churches described themselves as “Christian churches of the Unitarian faith” and “disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ.”2 During the next three years, at the request of the National Conference organizers, Unitarian churches formed an additional fourteen regional conferences, among them the Essex Conference, north of Boston.3 More inclusive than the National Conference, Essex welcomed into fellowship “all Unitarian parishes [along with] other parishes … by a majority vote.”4 The National Conference would eventually agree to the post-Christian inclusivity of the Essex Conference, but the process would take another twenty-six years.5 Essex representatives would play key roles in this development.

Particularly important was Rev. Samuel Barrett Stewart, long time minister in Lynn, Massachusetts, who became a national spokesperson for the Essex model of Unitarian fellowship. The Essex Conference and Stewart deserve attention, not only because they influenced the Unitarian fellowship debates of the late nineteenth century but also because Stewart is representative of a type of late nineteenth-century American Unitarian who has received insufficient attention from historians. He was a Christian in the radical new sense pioneered by Boston minister Theodore Parker and a proponent of the most inclusive definition of a Unitarian denomination. Views like his became the Unitarian mainstream by the 1890s.6 Similarly, although a history of the Western Conference and its relations to the larger denomination has been written, other regional conferences have received little historical attention, despite their having also enriched post-Civil War Unitarian denominational life.7 Specifically, historians have noted but not explored the unique contribution of the Essex Conference in leading Unitarians to a more inclusive self-defnition.8 This essay examines this contribution and Stewart’s role in it.

The founding of the National Conference built on previous attempts to foster American Unitarian fellowship. In 1825, Unitarians formed an American Unitarian Association (AUA) to which individual Unitarians could belong; in time, Unitarians began to gather at Autumnal Conventions. After 1838, however, divisions within the emerging denomination threatened the fellowship these activities engendered. This was the year Ralph Waldo Emerson advised the graduating class of the Harvard Divinity School to break with a tradition of preaching which “comes out of the memory, and not out of the soul . . . your soul” and to show “that God is, not was; that He speaketh, not spake.”9 Emerson soon left the ministry altogether but other ministers, most notably Theodore Parker (1810-1860), developed and promoted similar Transcendental ideas. In 1841, Parker preached a widely discussed ordination sermon on The Transient and Permanent in Christianity in which he argued that Bible reports of miracles cannot warrant Christianity because the Bible is full of mistakes and factions. Instead, Christianity must rest on individual intuition of the truth of Jesus’ teachings. He thus shifted the emphasis entirely to what Jesus taught, which Parker called Absolute Religion and which he held to be the only permanent element in Christianity; Parker called himself a Christian because he saw Jesus as the greatest historical exponent of the Absolute Religion. Parker added that the power of Christianity was not any saving power of Jesus but the power of what he taught and, if we did not get his teachings from him, we could just as well get them from God, as Jesus did. Parker expanded on these ideas in a popular series of lectures that he then developed into a book,
A Discourse of Matters Pertaining to Religion, published in 1842.10 In the 1850s, Parker concluded that Jesus had made significant theological mistakes (that he believed in damnation, for example), yet Parker still identified himself as a Christian, on the grounds that Jesus was nonetheless the best historical example of anyone living out the Absolute Religion. Most Unitarians thought Parker’s interpretation of Christianity mistaken and, over the coming years, had to decide whether he, and later his followers, were worthy of fellowship.

By 1865, Unitarians were divided into four major factions on questions of both theology and fellowship. The “Conservatives” believed Unitarianism must be based ultimately on empirical classification and generalization of Bible facts, particularly of the revelation of Jesus. They fatly rejected the Transcendentalist innovations of Emerson and Parker. With regard to fellowship, they wanted to exclude any who did not accept the miraculous authority of Jesus.11 By contrast, those who called themselves “Radicals” often went beyond Parker and abandoned even the Christian name, identifying themselves simply as “theists.” Leading Radicals for long periods seceded from denominational Unitarianism, preferring to work as religious free agents.12

Between these extremes were two groups of theological moderates. Those who identified themselves as “Broad Churchmen” were more theologically flexible than the Conservatives—some of them were Transcendentalists—but they had a strongly Christocentric spirituality. They did not believe Unitarianism could survive if severed from its Christian roots and so wanted to exclude from fellowship those Radicals who no longer called themselves Christian. Strongly denominational in focus, they led the effort to organize the National Conference. Their mouthpiece was the New York-based Unitarian newspaper The Christian Enquirer, renamed in 1866, The Liberal Christian.13

Finally, there were what could be called the “Christian Radicals.” They still called themselves Christian in the sense Parker had pioneered, while believing, as did he, that the vitality of Unitarianism lay in its creedlessness. More denominationally-minded than other Radicals, they fought to include both Christians and non-Christians within Unitarian fellowship.14 Samuel Barrett Stewart was a Christian Radical leader.

Stewart came of age in the divided era that preceded the first National Conference and had hhimself been challenged by the Transcendentalist controversy. Stewart had been born into a Unitarian family in Farmington, Maine, earned a B.A. from Bowdoin College in 1857 and an M.A. there in 1860. After serving briefly as the principal of an academy, Stewart entered Harvard Divinity School the same year. By the time Stewart arrived at Harvard, Parker had eclipsed Emerson as the chief provocateur of divisions among Unitarians. Three or four Divinity School faculty, along with Harvard’s Plummer and Alford Professors, strongly opposed Parker’s religious ideas.15 One historian has estimated that only3 of more than 400 undergraduates favored Parker’s ideas.16 The divinity students, however, voted in 1857 to invite Parker to address the graduating class—an invitation the Divinity School faculty refused to sanction. Two years later, the school’s alumni association decided not to send a note of sympathy to Parker in what proved to be his final illness.17

Following graduation in 1863, Stewart studied in Germany for six months and then accepted a pastorate at the First Church in Nashua, New Hampshire.18 There he found the same divisions that were agitating Unitarians nationally. What he called his “Liberal preaching” only widened these splits and, after less than two years, Stewart gave up this ministerial position.19 For a few months, he substituted for William R. Alger in his church in Boston and then, in October 1865, accepted the pastorate of the Second Congregational Church in Lynn.20 In Lynn, Stewart was delighted to discover that his own religious views aligned perfectly with the founding documents of his new church. These documents rejected the Trinitarian view of God, emphasized ethics over harsh Calvinist doctrine, looked both in and out of Christianity for religious truth, expected Christian doctrine to change and progress, and justified this break from orthodoxy as a triumph of reason and rationality in religion.21 Stewart would serve as minister of the Lynn church for the next forty years.

Not long after Stewart was installed at Lynn, the second meeting of the National Conference took place in Syracuse, New York (meetings were thereafter held biannually). Here the organizational issues vexing Unitarianism were put on prominent display. Radicals such as Francis Ellingwood Abbot came to this 1866 Conference with a proposal to redefine the meeting membership in terms of “Love, Righteousness, and Truth, instead of discipleship to Christ.” The majority, however, defeated this proposal and only agreed to change their name to the Conference of Unitarian and Independent Churches. The Conference having reasserted its Christian character, many Radicals left to found their own, Free Religious Association.22

Nevertheless, a significant number of Christian Radicals retained their association with the National Conference and helped to form its “left wing.” They continued to object that the phrase “Lord Jesus Christ” in the preamble of the conference constitution imposed a creed on Conference delegates.23 The Liberal Christian, the Broad Church newspaper edited at this point by the Boston minister, Transcendentalist, and National Conference co-organizer James Freeman Clarke, responded that what offended the Radicals should not be called a creed. The organizers “did not care for the terms in which this confession was couched, so long as it set forth the fact that … [Unitarians] stood upon Christianity as a platform … and accepted the moral leadership of Jesus … God’s greatest son and best.” Here Clarke stated succinctly the Broad Church position. Clarke firmly rejected the possibility that the Conference should extend fellowship to Radicals like Abbot who did not claim to be Christian. According to Clarke, “Theism there may be ‘outside of Christianity,’ but that form and type of theism which constitutes the central and sun-truth of the Christian system, and makes it the paternal religion, and gives it its power and hold on human hearts and infinite helpfulness and hope, this is not there.”24

In 1866, only months after this divisive National Conference meeting, Stewart joined with others in organizing the Essex County Conference. These Essex founders were responding to a resolution approved by the National Conference, calling for the creation of new, local conferences; Broad Church ministers supported this measure in hopes of unifying the denomination under the Broad Church model and rousing it to greater missionary efforts.25 Thus, in December, thirteen ministers, Stewart among them, and forty-two lay representatives of thirteen Unitarian parishes and three Unitarian societies created a conference of the Liberal churches of Essex County.

These Essex founders created an executive board consisting of a president, vice-president, secretary, treasurer, and three directors. Their new constitution called for at least one executive board meeting per month and four conference meetings per year, to which each church was to send, as delegates, its pastor plus three men and three women from the congregation. In fact, the conference minutes record far less frequent executive board meetings and only three conference meetings per year from 1866 through 1869, two per year from 1870 through 1878, and, with a few lapses, three per year for the rest of the nineteenth century. The number of delegates reported in the conference minutes was often much greater than the constitutional definition would seem to allow. Total attendance at meetings varied from 100 to 600 when visitors were also counted. Delegates elected officers once a year and occasionally voted on resolutions and other motions. All who attended an Essex meeting listened to prayers, sermons, and one or two essays that a handful of designated ministers discussed.26

One young Harvard divinity graduate, who came to an Essex pulpit at about the same time as Stewart, described the churches in the county as ranging from radical to conservative Unitarianism.27 One of the most radical ministers was Samuel Johnson, who from 1853 to1870 pastored the Free Church in Lynn, considered a “sister church” of Parker’s society in Boston. According to historian Philip Gura, Johnson saw worth and dignity in all religions and a commonality beneath their surface differences. On this basis, Johnson viewed Christianity as just one more constantly evolving religion. According to his biographer, Johnson “sought spiritual truths by immediate inward experience rather than by inference from outward experience.”28 Too independent to participate in Essex organizational efforts, he was a good friend of many who did.29 Another Radical, whose words often appeared in Essex Conference minutes, was Parker’s friend Mrs. Caroline Healey Dall. A prominent woman’s rights advocate and frequent contributor to radical publications, she preached to a group of Unitarians in Lynnfield and wrote that she would have been a settled minister had the option been open to her.30 Other early Essex ministers, though not Radicals themselves, set an especially inclusive example. One of these was Charles C. Shackford, the minister whose 1841 ordination occasioned Parker’s Transient and Permanent in Christianity and Stewart’s predecessor as pastor of the Second Congregational Church in Lynn, having served there from 1846 to1865.31 In addition, the sometime Radical supporter Cyrus A. Bartol had a summer home in the county and attended Essex Conference meetings as a visitor when in residence. Stewart suspected that the Essex Conference drew Bartol because of its freedom and independence.32

The influence of such figures prompted the Essex Conference to value fellowship over theological correctness; but Essex county had, as well, a distinctive religious history that favored a liberal outlook. As Daniel Walker Howe has pointed out, maritime commerce brought the Puritans’ religious descendants in Essex and Boston, where the earliest Puritan churches were established, more easily into a trans-Atlantic intellectual dialog than Congregationalists inland. Unlike Congregational parishes elsewhere, those in Boston, Salem, and Newburyport (the latter two, leading Essex parishes) also vested ecclesiastical control in their pew proprietors rather than the converted members of the congregation. According to Howe, both these factors made the merchant class more influential and led to the distinctively liberal religious development in these parishes.33

Subsequently, the first three presidents of the Essex Conference, Judge Isaac Ames (1866-1869), Rev. Robert S. Rantoul (1869-1883), and Rev. Nathaniel Horton (1883-1891), all were out of sympathy with what they saw as the “exclusive” spirit of the National Conference. As Stewart recalled, “From the very first [Essex] set its face resolutely against drawing divisional lines through the little fraternity of pioneering minds, who, as Unitarians, as Independents, as Humanitarians, as Free Religionists, were… closely affiliated by education and by ordination, and commonly regarded as working together to achieve the same general ends.”34

The points of greatest debate at the Essex founding meeting were whether to keep the word “Unitarian” in the conference name and whether to admit other than Unitarian parishes. The delegates decided both questions in the affirmative and, three years later, a Universalist society was welcomed into the conference. The Essex founders were also agreed, “Christian union can never be effected by any doctrinal statement, but must be reached by unity of the spirit, and earnest cooperation in Christian work.” Stewart recalled the negative reaction this inclusiveness engendered. “It was in view of these things, and from boldness of speech and attitude especially, I suppose, that the Essex Conference acquired the reputation of somewhat conspicuously representing the ‘left wing’ of the Unitarian body.”35

Essex conference members were concerned enough about the exclusiveness that drove many Radicals out of the national Unitarian conference, that prior to the third national conference, in 1868, they appointed a committee to investigate charges of “creed making” by the larger organization. At the Essex meeting that appointed this committee, attendees heard a sermon that reviewed the historic positions and principles of Unitarianism and applied these to the issues agitating the new denomination.36 The next Essex Conference meeting was almost entirely devoted to discussing the committee’s fndings.37

At the national conferences, each local conference presented a report. The Essex report to the 1868 conference, read from the floor, proclaimed the right of every National Conference member freely to express his or her convictions. It must have pleased the Essex representatives that, later in this national meeting, conference delegates responded to charges of creed making by adding a new, ninth article to their constitution, which proclaimed that “all declarations of the Conference, including the preamble, were expressions only of its majority, committing in no degree those who object to them.”38

The Liberal Christian, now jointly edited by J. B. Harrison and Rev. Dr. Henry W. Bellows of New York, the principal organizer of the National Conference and its first president, continued to insist that the conference must exclude non-Christian Radicals.39 “There has always been … the question whether the Conference will enlarge its fellowship by admitting persons outside the Christian communion . . . Our own conviction is, that it will be wise, if it holds to the position it has taken.”40 Equally vital to the Broad Church vision, however, was that the conference include those Radicals who “profess to love and reverence Christianity, and to love and honor Jesus, but they have misgivings about their obligation to call any man, inspired or not, Master and Lord.” The editors happily reported that although these Christian Radicals objected to the preamble of the conference constitution, with the new ninth article “for their relief,” they were “content” to stay “in our body.”41

Harrison and Bellows were alarmed to learn, prior to the 1870 national conference, that a circular letter was asking the churches to send delegates to the next Conference who would remove the ninth article. The Liberal Christian editors realized that “a small Conservative faction have determined that [what it is calling] disguised Theists must be unmasked and driven out of our company,” and objected strongly: “if anything could drive the Unitarian body… into an utter abandonment of all attempts at organization this would be it.” Fearing the Conservatives would win, the editors could only, “trust that every attempt to indulge a partisan spirit of victory on the part of Conservatives will be felt instinctively to be equally in bad taste and bad blood.”42

As the 1870 national conference approached, the Essex Conference made its own position clear by electing George Batchelor, a minister from Salem who pledged to oppose all creeds and doctrinal statements, its Secretary-Treasurer and spokesperson. At the same Essex Conference meeting, the delegates resolved to resist any doctrinal test “with all our power” and reaffirmed this position a week before the national meeting.43 Consequently, from the floor of the 1870 national meeting, Batchelor promoted the inclusive, Essex approach to Unitarian organization and offered resolutions, appended to his report, which rejected efforts to impose a narrower vision on the emerging denomination.44

Conservative reaction was sharp and forceful. Not only did delegates to the 1870 national meeting retain the Christian language in the preamble to its by-laws, but they also removed the inclusive wording of the ninth article that the previous meeting had added. An overwhelming majority voted for removal, and those who objected were hissed.45 The 1870 Conference delegates also requested that local conferences vet the credentials of prospective ministers.46

Hoping to keep the offended left wing in the conference fold, the editors of the Liberal Christian publicly expressed regret for the change to the ninth article, commended the Christian Radicals for an “evident spirit of sympathy and union in the Conference,” and once again warned more conservative delegates to “more carefully consider their tendencies and more fairly interpret the Christian basis on which we rest.” Consistent with their Broad Church position, however, the editors of this paper rejoiced that non-Christian Radicals, what they called the “theistic party,” continued to leave the National Conference.47

The subsequent refusal of Essex to vet ministers on theological grounds highlights the difference between it and other regional conferences. At its February 1871 meeting, the Essex Conference considered a proposal to examine the character, acquirements, and standing of applicants for ministerial positions within the county. In the resulting discussion, guest speaker for the day, Professor Frederick Henry Hedge of Harvard Divinity School, himself a Transcendentalist allied with the Broad Church group, recommended that the proposal be amended to include the words, “it being understood that he is a Christian minister.” Hedge explained, “If one should disclaim Christian belief he ought not to be eligible.”48 William H. Spencer, minister from Haverhill, objected that Hedge’s proposed addition was liable to be given a narrow interpretation, and Hedge’s former student Samuel Stewart called on the meeting to ignore Hedge’s suggestion and reject the National Conference request.

Probably so as not to embarrass their invited guest, the delegates laid the matter on the table for another, later meeting—at which they finally did reject it.49 By contrast, the New York and Hudson River Conferences had already formed a committee for vetting ministers while most of the remaining conferences simply ignored the request to form similar committees. Only the Essex Conference rejected the request outright.50Subsequently, Cyrus Bartol, frequent Essex Conference visitor, reported this comment from a brother minister in Boston, “O, the Essex is a heretical Conference.”51

The majority of Essex members were not ready, however, to give up on the National Conference. At the Essex meeting just prior to the1872 National Conference, Spencer objected to Essex sending delegates there, citing the theological exclusiveness of the Conference constitution. Essex decided to send delegates anyway, but passed, with one dissenting vote, a protest against the change made in 1870 to the ninth article.52 At the national meeting in Boston soon afterwards, Batchelor, who was on the Essex delegation, read a report that he later described as representing the characteristic attitude of his conference and that, in his view, had much to do with the subsequent history of the National Conference.53 He told the national meeting that Essex had discussed and rejected the recommendation to vet ministers because “the establishment of any local ‘tribunal’ before which candidates for the ministry should be examined… was foreign to the purposes of its organization.” Batchelor closed his report with a protest against the present (eviscerated) version of the ninth article and declared, on behalf of the Essex Conference, We wish to be known as always subordinating denominationalism to a cheerful inclusion within our fellowship of those who, trained in our own schools, have undertaken our common work … but by new and bolder thought and methods. Our Conference is a plastic body ready to be shaped to the intellectual and moral requirements of new times. It holds within itself various examples of the transitional stages of theology through which the Liberal body is passing; Old Unitarians, Liberal Christian, Free Religionists, sit side by side. [Thus] retaining within our fellowship those who are too frequently and unjustly charged with disloyalty to our common cause … we … have succeeded in preserving a complete unity of spirit and benevolent purpose.54

Essex Conference president Rantoul then asked to make a brief statement about their protest, but National Conference president Bellows denied the request. Later in the same session, a question of closer connection of the National Conference, whose members were churches, and the American Unitarian Association, whose members were individuals, came to the floor. In opposition, Secretary Rush R. Shipped of the AUA pointed out “you have an intimation this afternoon that if you try to harness this organization of the Unitarian body into any more closely buckled-up affair you will find that there is a freedom and individuality about us that will sometimes resist. I think in the Essex Conference report … you have an illustration of this.”55

The following afternoon, the conference chair finally allowed Rantoul to re-read the Essex protest and introduce its framer, minister Edmund B. Willson of Salem. Willson described himself as someone who would “most reluctantly” leave the National Conference, and said he had moved that the Essex Conference forward their protest, expecting it to be simply presented and read. Willson was indignant, however, “when I saw … the promptness and heartiness with which you voted us no hearing … and when I found … Dr. Bellows anticipating and forestalling the judgment which, if at all, this Conference should pass upon this question.” We are here given, Willson explained, “a practical case, a case where you were drawing the lines through our own religious family of Essex county.”56

The next afternoon, the Essex Conference protest came to the floor yet again. As part of a report on Statements of Belief, James Freeman Clarke offered resolutions recognizing the range of opinions within the National Conference membership and referring the issue to a committee. Clarke’s resolutions passed unanimously. Discussion of a follow up resolution to enter the Essex Conference protest on the record ended only when President Bellows stated that the full report of the Essex Conference would be recorded as a matter of course. Bellows then apologized for remarks meant to “prejudice the minds of this Conference in regard to the proposition of the Essex Conference.”57

Bellows, now sole editor of the Liberal Christian, tried again to smooth the National Conference waters. “With the exception of a respectful and kindly protest from the Essex Conference against the change made in our preamble at the session of 1870, there was no attempt to disturb the settlement of the platform then agreed on, nor was there any other indication that any portion of the body felt our present status irksome or unsatisfactory.”58 Far less conciliatory, a Conservative, writing in the Religious Magazine, observed, “We are not sorry that the subject was brought up; for it is important that the members of the Conference should understand … that it is a Christian organization.”59

Despite the cool reaction to the Essex protest at the 1872 National Conference, at that same meeting, Essex Secretary-Treasurer Batchelor was chosen National Conference Secretary. He had already held this position as a last-minute replacement at the previous meeting and would continue to hold it for the next eighteen years. Batchelor was radical enough to have attended the organizational meeting of the Free Religious Association. Later, Batchelor would describe himself as on Theodore Parker’s side with respect to theology. As National Conference Secretary, Batchelor quietly promoted the Essex Conference agenda. “I tried to use my opportunity with discretion,” he later wrote, “although I did not hesitate to show on which side my sympathies were.” For example, in the corridors of the 1872 Conference, Batchelor claimed to have prevented the proposal of a creed to the delegates on the foor.60

Stewart replaced Batchelor as Essex Secretary-Treasurer. Those who attended the October 1873 Essex meeting heard and discussed a paper by their new spokesman suggesting future action in areas that included “the constitutional basis of the National Conference, now in process of repairs.”61

The same issues that vexed the National Conference also surfaced in an 1873 action of the AUA that began what historians have called “the yearbook controversy.”62 Secretary Shippen of the AUA attended the February 1874 Essex meeting and explained to attendees that, at the end of the previous year, Radical leader Octavius Brooks Frothingham asked to have his name omitted from the Unitarian yearbook. This raised a question for the editors of the yearbook about other officers of the Free Religious Association and, when they inquired, FRA Secretary William James Potter answered that he was no longer a Christian. The yearbook editors then decided that they could not keep his name on this nominally Christian list. Upon hearing this explanation, a number of Essex Conference ministers voiced their objection. In the words of Stewart’s report of the meeting, “They absolved the [AUA] Secretary from moral blame, but could scarcely find words in which to express not only their regret but pain that the Association had taken this its first step in the direction of excommunication.”63

Efforts continued to forge a unified denomination under one or another model of fellowship. The editor of the Christian Register, the principal Unitarian newspaper, for example, urged no one to stay away from the upcoming 1874 national meeting, in Saratoga, New York, and dismissed as unreasonable “the old fear that the Conference … menaces the independence of our individual churches.”64 Equally conciliatory, in Secretary Stewart’s Essex Conference report, delivered from the floor of the 1874 national meeting, he reminded delegates that Essex “has from the beginning been the defender of free thought” but, with the exception of the recent yearbook decision, “is in hearty accord with the objects and purposes of the larger organizations of Unitarians.”65 Later in the meeting, Broad Churchman Clarke even offered a resolution of support for the Free Religious Association. Bellows, however, objected.66

These same issues were debated again when the Essex Conference met in Lawrence, Massachusetts, a month later. The morning was devoted to a paper by Rev. James T. Hewes of Salem, who argued that the Christian Church can fellowship only those who claim the Christian name and accept Christ as “the brightest manifestation of divinity.” In the discussion, Radical minister John H. Clifford of North Andover, a member of the FRA, countered that “there can be no fellowship until all specific religions, including Christianity, shall be abandoned as exclusive and final statements.”67 At the following Essex meeting, in May 1875, Clifford himself gave the opening paper. He here argued in the manner of Theodore Parker that “religion is too deeply fixed in the human soul to be dislodged” and that “the dogmatic attitude, for or against Christianity, should be relinquished for one of affirmation and comprehensive exercise of the religious sentiment.”68 This Essex discussion shows again how much it differed from the denomination as a whole: Essex members had agreed to disagree on theological issues and to defend the resulting inclusive fellowship.

At the same time, some of Parker’s admirers outside the National Conference were agitating an especially divisive issue: the legitimacy of Parker’s religious views. In 1874, Frothingham published Theodore Parker: A Biography, in which he highlighted the harsh rejection Parker experienced during his lifetime.69 Wounded, the editor of the Christian Register objected (as had many others during Parker’s lifetime) that “where one hard, angry or contemptuous word was spoken by them against Mr. Parker, at least ten reproachful, unkind and scornful words were spoken by him against them.”70

Two years later, the British and Foreign Unitarian Association, in England, resolved that the “form of Unitarian Christianity represented in its general characteristics by the works of Theodore Parker should be fairly recognized in [its] publications and operations.” The same year, in the U.S., the Western Conference passed a similar resolution.71 Almost immediately, Stewart presented resolutions to the Essex Conference that called on the AUA to publish Parker’s writings.72 In reply to this proposal, the editor of the Christian Register repeated a long list of familiar charges against Parker and suggested that admirers publish his works privately, instead of opening old wounds among AUA members.73

Stewart responded in a long letter that appeared in the Register the following week. He conceded that “many were deeply wounded by [Parker’s] iconoclasm and by his satire,” but pointed out that to “us of a later generation … the antagonisms of the time in which he lived and labored have quite lost their interest.” Meanwhile, Parker should be recognized as “an eloquent and devoted preacher of a theology such as, in general terms, a great portion of the Unitarian body holds and is now trying to disseminate [and] many of his heresies have become either harmless errors or commonplaces of truth.” Calling on the AUA to forgive Parker’s offenses and publish his works, Stewart wrote that his own resolutions “were offered in the interest of peace and good-will” and, in fact, they “imply what we think has been most studiously ignored, that there are many Unitarians who honor and admire Parker, and who feel that he said great and good and beautiful words in the interest of a liberal faith, words that were timely and that are still timely.”74

Remarkably, the Liberal Christian, now edited by Russell Bellows under the direction of his father, Henry, was more willing than the Christian Register to see official acceptance of Parker’s religious ideas.75 Although not ready to go so far as Stewart, the Liberal Christian opined that the “real question before both the English and the American Unitarian Associations is not whether they shall print Parker’s works, but whether, as the English resolution puts it, ‘the form of Unitarian Christianity represented in its general characteristics by the works of Theodore Parker should be fairly recognized in the publications and operations of these societies.’ The English Association has already decided this question in the affirmative,” and the Liberal Christian recommended that the AUA should do the same.76 In a follow-up column, a writer identified only as W. H. F. (probably the Transcendentalist William Henry Furness, minister in Philadelphia) explained that the Broad Church ministers based this support for Parker on his claim to be a Christian. “And now, it seems to me has come a religious crisis, in which Mr. Parker’s voice is much needed, on the side of a positive, spiritual, Christian, inspired Theism” and against what the writer saw as “the mere metaphysical, speculative, scientific Theism of the time.”77 Support for the Broad Church party had apparently weakened to the point that its leaders were ready to seek any allies they could find and so take the extreme measure of welcoming Parker posthumously into the Broad Church coalition.

Stewart’s own Essex Conference was not agreed on the advisability of the AUA publishing Parker’s writings. By a vote of 70 to 55, the majority allowed Stewart to defend his proposal but, for reasons not given in the minutes, quickly tabled it following his remarks. In a subsequent letter to the editor of the Christian Register, another Essex Conference member argued, tongue in cheek, that not all was lost. The Free Religious Association was about to bring out a new edition of Parker’s Discourse of Religion, and if the book remains “in the Unitarian index prohibitory [it] will, therefore, be the more eagerly sought.” The writer was no doubt referring to a reprint of the fourth edition of Parker’s Discourse that appeared the following year with an introduction by the Free Religionist leader, Frothingham.78

The next national meeting, in 1876, marked a turning point in the history of American Unitarian fellowship. Prior to the conference, again in Saratoga, the organizers made one last attempt to control the emerging denomination and reign in its churches. As the Christian Register noted, the Liberal Christian was now making “an eloquent and reiterated suggestion that … would have the Conference ‘cast votes’ that will have not only a moral meaning, but a somewhat binding effect upon our churches.”79 This probably refers to a continuing, fruitless attempt by conference organizers to transfer the power to vet prospective ministers from the local conferences to a national committee on fellowship.80 In any case, about a third of the local conferences and churches voted with their feet against the National Conference organizers. Before 1876, conference attendance hovered around 200 delegates. In 1872, it reached a high of 220; in 1874, it was 208. However, in 1876 only 150 conferences and churches sent delegates.81

Despite this reduced attendance, the Lynn church sent Stewart as its representative, and he delivered a brief Essex report.82 Stewart said that he was “frequently asked what is the diet of the [Essex] Conference that it seems to be so robust and healthy.” His answer was “open air exercise”: “Years ago the Conference began by opening the doors to let in the fresh air of criticism and independent thought, and has never … regretted having done so.”83

In December 1876, the Liberal Christian suspended publication. A month later, it reappeared under the sole editorship of Russell Bellows under its old name, the Christian Inquirer. Within a year, the Inquirer also ceased publication—a demise that heralded the defeat of the Broad Church vision of Unitarian fellowship.84 In 1876 the American Unitarian Association made Stewart a director, which its constitution defined as a member of the executive committee “by which all affairs of moment must be considered.” For the next fifteen years, Batchelor, as National Conference Secretary, and Stewart, as an AUA director, were well placed to promote the Essex Conference model of an inclusive American Unitarianism.85

During Stewart’s fifteen-year tenure as a director, the AUA made two decisions that signaled growing acceptance of the Essex model of an inclusive American Unitarianism.86 The first was to include in the association yearbook, beginning in 1882, a supplementary list of Unitarian ministers who were not on the usual list.87 In this way, even ministers who did not consider themselves Christian could be included in the yearbook. The second important decision was finally to have the AUA publish, in 1885, a volume of Theodore Parker’s writings,
Views of Religion. The book proved popular, running through at least three editions.88

While Stewart’s attention was on the AUA, he also remained active in the Essex Conference, whose members continued to work to repair the basis of the National Conference.89 In 1881, for example, Essex Conference President Rantoul proposed a new article for the National Conference constitution. Rather like the original, 1868 version of the ninth article, this one denied that the preamble was an “authoritative test of Unitarianship … intended to exclude … any who, while differing from us in belief, are in general sympathy with our purposes and practical aims.”90 The editor of the Christian Register found it surprising that the new article passed so easily the following year.91

It did so for a number of reasons. By 1882, Radicals outside the National Conference were gradually disturbing it less. For example, the Free Religious Association turned its focus from the rejection of traditional beliefs to promoting a purely moral religion of its own.92 Meanwhile, death had steadily reduced the number of Conservatives and Broad Churchmen within Conference ranks, and few new leaders rose to replace them. The conservative idea of biblical revelation also began to look old fashioned in the face of “Higher Criticism” of the Bible, geological discoveries and Darwinian evolution, all of which challenged the factual nature of Bible claims.93 In view of these trends, collapse of the Broad Church model and acceptance of Rantoul’s proposal should not have been surprising. At the sixteenth national meeting, in 1892, delegates unanimously adopted virtually the same inclusive invitation to membership that Essex had pioneered twenty-six years earlier.94

The triumph of the Essex model probably could not have been more complete. In fact, the historian Gary Dorrien finds that between 1880 and 1892, not only did “Parker’s ... theology [become] the mainstream Unitarian perspective” but “the Unitarian church liberalized enough to become a comfortable home to a wide continuum of liberal Christian, neo-Christian, and non-Christian ethical humanists.”95 Looking back over these developments, Stewart wrote, “gradually the objects we aimed at have been attained. The literalism of the ancient Unitarian belief is outgrown, and fellowship is no longer a diffculty.”96

Stewart was vice-president, then president of the Essex Conference, and president of the Essex Unitarian Club. Theodore Parker would probably have been pleased to see that one of his staunchest defenders became president of the Harvard Divinity School Alumni Association for two years, once gave the Alumni Association annual talk, and for seven years prepared their necrologies. Stewart also served a three-year term on the governing committee of the Berry Street Conference of Ministers, gave a lecture on “Theodore Parker” in Channing Hall, and addressed the first annual meeting of the Unitarian Historical Association (now the Unitarian Universalist Historical Association, which publishes this journal). When, between 1908 and 1912, the AUA at last brought out a complete edition of Parker’s works in fifteen volumes, Stewart edited one of them,
Sins and Safeguards of Society (a collection of Parker’s social reform writings). After a long retirement in upstate New York, Stewart died in 1927.97

Stewart to the end of his life remained a theist, “looking to the God who is,” a promoter of what he described as an absolute and universal religion with a liberal theology, and, in a particular sense, a Christian.98 Stewart wanted theology to be an evolving dialogue, based on free and unfettered investigation, and with plenty of room for disagreement. As he and Batchelor agreed during a colloquy before an Essex meeting, the preaching in church must be, “responsive to the living ... questions and doubts of the day” and “open to inquiry, to all truth.”99 Thus, “we ought not only to stand by the thought that seems most true to us, but to stand by those who are still testing the truth.”100 Stewart sought to identify and promote an absolute and universal religion, by which he meant the common religion of humanity as described by Samuel Johnson. Thus, he not only advocated the study of world religions in Unitarian Sunday Schools but also pushed the Essex ministers to include readings in the pulpit from extra-Christian sources.101 Unlike Johnson, however, he also described himself as a Christian, a follower of “the grandest development of religion.”102

Stewart represented the Unitarian theological mainstream at the turn of the twentieth century. Even before Stewart’s death, however, his beliefs had come under serious challenge from religious Humanists, who could no longer reconcile the content and methods of modern science with any kind of theism.103 Humanist ideas provoked considerable controversy within Unitarianism, but no one seriously questioned the right of Humanists to Unitarian fellowship. That this right was so secure was in no small part the legacy of Stewart and the Essex Conference.

Notes

1 (moved to head of first page).
2 On the development of Unitarian denominational structure see Conrad Wright, “Unitarian Universalist Denominational Structure,” in
Walking Together (Boston: Unitarian Universalist Association, 1989), 73-95; Conrad Wright, “‘Salute the Arriving Moment,’ Denominational Growth and the Quest for Consensus, 1865-1895,” in A Stream of Light: A Sesquicentennial History of American Unitarianism (Boston: Unitarian Universalist Association, 1975), 63-64; David B. Parke, The Epic of Unitarianism: Original Writings from the History of Liberal Religion (Boston: Starr King Press, 1957), 121; George Willis Cooke, Unitarianism in America: A History of its Origin and Development (Boston: American Unitarian Association, 1902), 193; John White Chadwick, Old and New Unitarian Belief (Boston: Geo. H. Ellis, 1901), 27-28.
3 Conrad Wright,
Congregational Polity: A Historical Survey of Unitarian and Universalist Practice (Boston: Skinner House Books, 1997), 71-72; Cooke, Unitarianism in America, 444-446.
4 “Essex (Massachusetts) Conference,”
Christian Register [Boston] (hereafter CR; April 22, 1886). Essex Conference (hereafter EC) churches, in decreasing order of seniority, were First Congregational Society Salem, First Parish Gloucester, North Parish Church and Society North Andover, First Parish Haverhill, First Parish Beverly, First Congregational Society Lynnfield Center, Second Congressional Church Marblehead, Second Church Salem, First Religious Society Newburyport, North Church Salem, Second Congregational Society Lynn, Independent Congregational Church in Barton Square Salem, First Unitarian Church Peabody, First Unitarian Society Lawrence, Independent Society Groveland, Unitarian Congregational Society Danvers, Liberal Christian Society Ipswich, Unitarian Society Swampscott. CR (February 11, 1871).
5 Cooke,
Unitarianism in America, 229-234.
6 Wright,
Congregational Polity, 67-71.
7 See Charles H. Little,
Freedom Moves West: A History of the Western Unitarian Conference, 1852-1952 (1952; Providence, R. I.: Blackstone Editions, 2006).
8 Wright,
Congregational Polity, 76; Cooke, Unitarianism in America, 209.
9 Ralph Waldo Emerson, “An Address: Delivered Before the Senior Class in Divinity College, Cambridge, Sunday Evening, 15 July, 1838, in
The Collected Works of Ralph Waldo Emerson, Vol. I: Nature, Addresses, and Lectures, introduction and notes by Robert E. Spiller, text established by Alfred R. Ferguson (Cambridge, Mass.: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1971), 76-93.
10 On Parker see Dean Grodzins,
American Heretic: Theodore Parker and Transcendentalism (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2002), 43, 46, 104, 113, 115-116, 124-125, 141, 152, 168, 238-247, 250, 263, 284, 364; Philip F. Gura, American Transcendentalism: A History (New York: Hill and Wang, 2007), 101-106, 145.
11 On the Conservative Christians see David Robinson,
The Unitarians and the Universalists (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1985), 87-106.
12 On the Radicals see David M. Robinson, “’The New Epoch of Belief’: the Radical and religious transformation in Nineteenth-Century New England,”
New England Quarterly 79 (2006): 557-577; Stow Persons, Free Religion: An American Faith (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1947).
13 On the Broad Church Christians see Robinson,
The Unitarians and the Universalists, 87-106; Conrad Wright, “Henry W. Bellows and the organization of the National Conference,” in The Liberal Christians (Boston: Unitarian Universalist Association, 1970), 81-109.
14 On the moderate Radicals see Cooke,
Unitarianism in America, 222; Sydney E. Ahlstrom, “Introduction,” in Sydney E. Ahlstrom and Jonathan S. Carey, An American Reformation: A Documentary History of Unitarian Christianity (Middletown: Wesleyan University Press, 1985), 33; Gary Dorrien, The Making of American Liberal Theology: Imagining Progressive Religion, 1805-1900 (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2001), 109.
15 Sydney E. Ahlstrom, “The Middle Period (1840-80),” in
The Harvard Divinity School: Its Place in Harvard University and in American Culture, ed. George H. Williams (Boston: The Beacon Press, 1954), 78-147; James Anthony Vendettuoli, Jr., “The History of the Alumni Association of Harvard Divinity School,” Harvard Divinity School Bulletin 21 (1955): 118-199. Dean Grodzins points out that one Divinity School faculty member, Convers Francis, had mixed feelings about Parker.
16 Vendettuoli, “The History of the Alumni Association,” 119; John Hays Gardiner,
Harvard (New York: Oxford University Press, 1914), 39-40.
17 Ahlstrom, “The Middle Period (1840-80);” Vendettuoli, “The History of the Alumni Association;” Harvard Archives HUD 3328.502, “Records of the Association of the Alumni of the Cambridge Theological School, Institu De 1839”; Harvard Archives UAV 328.4 vt “Records of the Theological School Cambridge, Mass., 1827-1893,” 252; Harvard Archives UAV 328.2 vt “Records of the Theological School, 1820-1892,” at “1857.”
18 “S. B. Stewart,” CR (March 17, 1927), 222.
19
Records: First Unitarian Congregational Society, Nashville [Nashua] N. H., Book No. 2, 69-71.
20 “Death of Long Time Pastor of Unitarian Church,”
Lynn Daily Item (February 15, 1927).
21 Rev. S. B. Stewart, “Historical Address,” in
Addresses, Poems and Speeches delivered at the Semi-Centennial Anniversary of the Second Congregational Society of Lynn (Lynn, Mass.: Thos. P. Nichols, 1873), 15-16, 18-19.
22 Cooke,
Unitarianism in America, 201-204; Earl Morse Wilbur, A History of Unitarianism in Transylvania, England, and America (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1952), 472-473; Parke, The Epic of Unitarianism, 121-122; Wright, “Salute the Arriving Moment,” 79-81; Chadwick, Old and New, 28-29.
23 Cooke,
Unitarianism in America, 204; Dorrien, The Making of American Liberal Theology, 107.
24 “Outside of Christianity,”
Liberal Christian [New York] (hereafter LC; May 9, 1868); Cooke, Unitarianism in America, 204.
25 Wright, Congregational Polity, 71-73.
26 “EC Ministers Association Records 1866-1955,” Andover-Harvard Theol. Ms. bMS657, “EC Minutes 1866-1875,” 3-20ff and EC Minutes for subsequent years.
27 George Batchelor,
Personal Reminiscences (Boston: Geo. H. Ellis, 1916), 31, 35.
28 Samuel Johnson,
Lectures, Essays, and Sermons with a Memoir by Samuel Longfellow (Boston: Houghton, Mifflin, 1883), 14-15, quoted in Gura, American Transcendentalism.
29 Gura, American Transcendentalism, 285, 290-291. Also, Samuel Barrett Stewart,
Sermon in Memory of Samuel Johnson (Lynn, Mass.: Thos. P. Nichols, 1882), 4, 5, 10, 11, 14, 16; Batchelor, Reminiscences, 30-31; Roger C. Mueller, “Samuel Johnson, American Transcendentalist: A Short Biography,” Essex Institute Historical Collections 115 (1979): 9-67.
30 Samuel B. Stewart,
EC of Unitarian Churches: Historical Sketch (Boston: George H. Ellis, 1900), 22-23. First published as “Essex Unitarian Conference: Historical Sketch,” CR (April 19, 1900). On Dall see Helen R. Deese, “Transcendentalism from the margins: The experience of Caroline Healey Dall,” in: Transient and Permanent: The Transcendentalist movement and its Contexts, ed. Charles Caper and Conrad Edick Wright (Boston: Massachusetts Historical Society, 1999), 527-547. Deese finds evidence in Dall’s journals of her attendance at seventeen Essex Conferences between 1872 and 1877. Email to author, 16 November 2009.
31 Rev. Samuel B. Stewart, “Rev. Charles Chauncey Shackford,” HDS Faculty Writings File “Shackford, Charles Chauncy,” bMS 13001/single files/4(8), page 8; Stewart, “Historical Address,” 15-16, 42-49. Parker’s sermon was published as
A Discourse on the Transient and Permanent in Christianity: Preached at the Ordination of Mr. Charles C. Shackford, in the Hawes Place Church in Boston, May 19, 1841 (Boston: Freeman and Bolles, 1841).
32 Stewart,
EC of Unitarian Churches, 21.
33 Daniel Walker Howe, “The Decline of Calvinism: An Approach to Its Study,”
Comparative Studies in Society and History 14 (1972): 318.
34 Stewart,
EC of Unitarian Churches, 21-24.
35 Stewart,
EC of Unitarian Churches, 21-24.
36 “The EC,” LC (June 27, 1868).
37 “Essex County, Mass.,” LC (October 3, 1868); “EC Minutes 1866-1875, 6th Meeting, July 1868.”
38
Report of the Fourth Meeting of the National Conference of Unitarian and other Christian Churches (Boston: Alfred Medge and Son, 1870), 74; Wright, “Salute the Arriving Moment,” 81; Cooke, Unitarianism in America, 204-205; Wilbur, Unitarianism, 475-476.
39 On editorship of the Liberal Christian see Massachusetts Historical Society, “Henry W. Bellows papers,” 1869 (October-December), 1870 (January–June), 1870 (July–December).
40 “The National Conference,” LC (October 1, 1870).
41 “The Ultra-Conservative Faction,” LC (October 8, 1870).
42 “The Ultra-Conservative Faction,” LC (October 8, 1870).
43 “EC Minutes 1866-1875, 11th Meeting, February 1870 and 13th Meeting, October 1870;” “Constitution and By-Laws of the National Conference” and “EC of Liberal Christian Churches,” CR (October 15, 1970); Robinson,
The Unitarians and the Universalists, 117-122.
44
Report of the Fourth Meeting of the National Conference, 73-75.
45 Wilbur,
Unitarianism, 476.
46 Cf. Cooke,
Unitarianism in America, 220.
47 “The National Conference,” LC (October 29, 1870); cf. Cooke,
Unitarianism in America, 205-207.
48 On Hedge see Charles W. Grady, “High Churchman in a Low Church: Frederick Henry Hedge’s Vision of the Liberal Church,”
Proceedings of the Unitarian Universalist Historical Society 21 (1987-88): 1-12.
49 “EC of Liberal Christian Churches,” CR (February 11, 1871); “EC Minutes 1866-1875,
14th Meeting, February 1871;” “EC,” CR (October 28, 1871).
50 Wright,
Congregational Polity, 76.
51 “EC,” CR (March 2, 1872). It is true that, five years later, the Western Conference adopted an inclusive definition of membership and, three years further on, the Wisconsin Conference protested the formation of a national committee to examine and test prospective ministers. Cooke,
Unitarianism in America, 209; Wright, Congregational Polity, 76. Nevertheless, it is clear that Essex took the lead on fellowship issues, even at the risk of being called heretical.
52 “EC, Afternoon Session,” CR (October 26, 1972); “EC Minutes 1866-1875, 17th Meeting, October 1872.”
53 Batchelor,
Reminiscences, 34-35.
54
Report of the Fifth Meeting of the National Conference of Unitarian and other Christian Churches (Salem, Mass.: Salem Press, 1873), 91. Cf. Batchelor, Reminiscences, 34-35.
55 “Proceedings of the National Conference [first day], Continued from the First Page, Afternoon,” CR (October 26, 1872); Cooke,
Unitarianism in America, 212-213.
56 “Proceedings of the National Conference, Second Day, Afternoon,” CR (October 26, 1872);
Report of the Fifth Meeting of the National Conference, 154-156.
57 “Proceedings of the National Conference, Third Day, Afternoon Session,” CR (October
26, 1872);
Report of the Fifth Meeting of the National Conference, 204-206.
58 “Report of the Fifth Meeting of the Unitarian National Conference,” LC (January 25, 1873).
59 “The National Conference,” CR (November 9, 1872).
60 Batchelor, Reminiscences, 34-36.
61 “EC of Liberal Christian Churches,” CR (October 25, 1873); “The EC,” LC (October 25, 1873).
62 Wright, “Salute the Arriving Moment,” 83-84; Cooke,
Unitarianism in America, 207-209; Chadwick, Old and New, 29-30.
63 “Essex Conference,” CR (March 7, 1874).
64 “Why Go to Saratoga?” CR (August 27, 1874).
65 “The Sixth National Conference, Wednesday, September 16, Morning Session,” CR (August 27, 1874);
Report of the Sixth Meeting of the National Conference of Unitarian and other Christian Churches (Salem, Mass.: Salem Gazette, 1874), 66-68; Cooke, Unitarianism in America, 209.
66 “The Sixth National Conference, Wednesday, September 16, Afternoon Session,” CR (August 27, 1874); Wright, “Salute the Arriving Moment,” 84.
67 “The EC,” CR (October 31, 1874). On Clifford see Sarah Loring Bailey,
Historical Sketches of Andover (comprising the Present Towns of North Andover and Andover), Massachusetts (Boston: Houghton, Mifflin and Company, 1880), 469-470, 501.
68 “EC,” CR (May 29, 1875).
69 Octavius B. Frothingham,
Theodore Parker: A Biography (Boston: J. R. Osgood, 1874).
70 “Theodore Parker and the Unitarian Ministers,” CR (June 6, 1874).
71 “The Alleged Demand for Theodore Parker’s Works,” LC (August 5, 1876); “The Parker Controversy,” LC (September 2, 1876).
72 “EC,” CR (November 6, 1875); “EC,” CR (July 1, 1876); cf. “A Unitarian Conference,” CR
(July 22, 1876). Also “EC Ministers Association Records 1866-1955, EC Minutes 1875-1888, 24th Meeting, June 1876.”
73 “Theodore Parker’s Works and the Unitarian Association,” CR (July 29, 1876).
74 “Parker and Unitarians,” CR (August 5, 1876).
75 On editorship of the Liberal Christian, see Walter Donald Kring,
Henry Whitney Bellows (Boston: Skinner House, 1879), 412.
76 “The Alleged Demand for Theodore Parker’s Works,” LC (August 5, 1876).
77 “Theodore Parker and his Influence,” LC (September 2, 1876).
78 “EC,” CR (November 4, 1876); “EC Minutes 1866-1875, 25th Meeting, October 1876;” “The ‘Parker Resolutions’ in the EC,” CR (November 4, 1876); Theodore Parker,
A Discourse of Matters Pertaining to Religion, 4th ed., introd. by Octavius Brooks Frothingham, (New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1877).
79 “The Proposed Change in the Nature and Purposes of the National Conference,” CR (August 26, 1876).
80 Cooke,
Unitarianism in America, 220.
81 “The Saratoga Conference,” CR (September 23, 1876).
82 “EC Minutes 1875-1888, 26th Meeting, March 1877.”
83
Report of the Seventh Meeting of the National Conference of Unitarian and other Christian Churches (Salem: Salem Gazette, 1876).
84 Kring,
Henry Whitney Bellows, 412-418.
85 Cooke,
Unitarianism in America, 234-239.
86 “American Unitarian Association,” CR (June 19, 1880); “American Unitarian Association,” CR (June 24, 1886).
87 “American Unitarian Association,” CR (November 23, 1882).
88 The publication was Theodore Parker,
Views of Religion, with an Introduction by James Freeman Clarke (Boston: American Unitarian Association, 1885).
89 “The EC,” CR (June 16, 1881); cf. “The EC,” CR (December 6, 1890).
90 “Thursday,” CR (September 28, 1882); Wright,
A Stream of Light, 82-83.
91 “The National Conference,” CR (October 27, 1898).
92 Felix Adler, “The Teachers of Ethics as the Successors of the Clergy,” [Boston], (June 16 1881), 602.
93 Wilbur,
Unitarianism, 480; Wright, “Salute the Arriving Moment,” 93-94; Chadwick, Old and New, 230-231.
94 Cooke,
Unitarianism in America, 229-234.
95 Dorrien,
The Making of American Liberal Theology, 109.
96 Stewart,
EC of Unitarian Churches.
97 “Death of Long Time Pastor of Unitarian Church,”
Lynn Daily Item (February 15, 1927); “Samuel Barrett Stewart,” CR (March 17, 1927), 222; “Samuel Barrett Stewart,” Unitarian Year Book, July 1, 1926 to June 30, 1927, 101; Harvard Archives, HUD 3328.502 “Records of the Association of the Alumni of the Harvard Divinity School [1880-1915],” 83, 88, 99, 103, 112, 124; “The Harvard Divinity School,” CR (July 7, 1904); “The Harvard Divinity School,” CR (July 13, 1905); “The Harvard Divinity School,” CR (July 19, 1906); “The Harvard Divinity School,” CR (July 4, 1907); “The Harvard Divinity School,” CR (July 2, 1908); “The Harvard Divinity School,” CR (July 8, 1909); “The Harvard Divinity School,” CR (July 7, 1910); Rudolph W. Nemser, The Berry Street Conference (1993), at “1892,” “1893,” “1894;” “Forty Years in a Parish,” CR (February 9, 1905); “Unitarian Historical Society,” CR (May 30, 1901).
98 “EC Minutes 1875-1888, 36th Meeting, February 1881; 43rd Meeting, February 1883.”
99 “EC Minutes 1875-1888, 32nd Meeting, February 1880.”
100 “EC Minutes 1875-1888, 55th Meeting, February 1887.”
101 “Who’s Going to Church?” CR (November 15, 1894);
The Unitarian [Chicago] (February
1895).
102 “The Religions of Mankind,” CR (May 14, 1896).
103 Dorrien,
The Making of American Liberal Theology, 109; Parke, The Epic of Unitarianism, 132-
143; Edwin H. Wilson,
The Genesis of a Humanist Manifesto, ed. Teresa Maciocha (Amherst, NY: Humanist Press, 1995), 4-12.