Two more UU two hundredth birthdays

With all the attention that’s being paid to the two hundredth anniversary of Theodore Parker’s birth, I somehow missed two other two hundredth birthdays — one of a Unitarian and one of a Universalist.

The Unitarian first: James Freeman Clarke was born on April 4, 1810. Unitarian minister, abolitionist, and Harvard professor, Clarke also published the Western Messenger, which historian David Robinson has called the first Transcendentalist periodical; some of Margaret Fuller’s earliest work was published in the Western Messenger. Robinson adds, “Few Unitarians of his day or after have made a larger contribution to Unitarianism.”

In 1886, Clarke printed a revision of the Five Points of Calvinism into “Five Points of the New Theology,” an optimistic statement of Unitarian faith, in which he said he believed in the fatherhood of God, the brotherhood of man, the leadership of Jesus, salvation by character, and progress onwards and upwards forever. This affirmation of faith became widely popular in Unitarian circles, and remained popular for decades — I remember hearing it in the Unitarian church of my childhood in the late 1960s.

You can read more about Clarke in the article at the UU Historical Society’s Dictionary of UU Biography. And tomorrow I’ll tell you about the Universalist who was born two hundred years ago this year — possibly the most famous Universalist that ever lived.

6 thoughts on “Two more UU two hundredth birthdays

  1. Jeff

    Are we supposed to guess? I know who the mystery man is (I wrote a term paper on how his theology was reflected in his, shall we say, professional activities while I was in grad school). I seriously considered putting his pamphlet about Universalism on my syllabus on the subject for SKSM, but it ultimately didn’t make the cut. Thanks for the reminder about Clarke, btw, I hadn’t thought about it being his anniversary year too.

  2. ogre

    And it’s the 500th anniversary year for Francis DavĂ­d! I’ve seen nothing about anyone taking any note of that….

  3. Dan

    Jeff @ 1 — Of course you’d know who the mysterious Universalist is!

    ogre @ 2 — I’ve actually seen a number of references to Francis David this year — but thanks for reminding us once again!

    Philocrites @ 3 — Yikes, I must have missed that — and I thought I read UU World cover to cover every issue. Sigh.

    Amy @ 4 — Thanks for including the reminder here. The Concord, Mass., UU church had a big bash for Margaret Fuller, with scholars and fans from all over, so I feel she has been well-feted.

    Scott @ 5 — I was on vacation then, and not reading your blog. The things I miss — that’s it, no more vacations for me!

Comments are closed.