John Pierpont

John Pierpont

John Pierpont

Composer

Born in 1785 in Litchfield, Connecticut, John Pierpont had careers as a tutor, attorney, merchant, and minister. He graduated from Yale College in 1804. In 1816 he began his religious work as a theology student, first in Baltimore and then at Harvard, afterwards accepting an appointment as pastor at the Hollis Street Church in Boston (1819-1845). During his tenure, Pierpont was instrumental in establishing Boston’s English Classical School in 1821 and gained national recognition as an educator. He published two of the better-known early school readers in the United States, The American First Class Book (1823) and The National Reader (1827). However, Pierpont’s latter years at the Hollis Street Church were characterized by controversy. His social activism for temperance and abolition angered some parishioners, and after a long public battle, he resigned in 1845.

After his resignation, Pierpont served as pastor of a Unitarian church in Troy, New York (1845–1849), and then led the First Parish Church (Unitarian) in MedfordMassachusetts (1849–1856). He ran for Massachusetts governor during the 1840s as a Liberty Party candidate, and in 1850 as a Free Soil Party candidate for the US House of Representatives. After two weeks’ service as a 76-year-old military chaplain with the 22nd Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry during the Civil War, Pierpont was given an appointment in the Treasury Department in Washington, which he held from 1861 until his death. He died at Medford, Massachusetts in 1866.

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