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Pierpont, John (1785-1866) | Litchfield Historical Society

Name: Pierpont, John (1785-1866)

Historical Note:

John Pierpont, the son of James and Elizabeth Collins Pierpont, was born in Litchfield, Conn., in 1785. In 1805 he went to South Carolina as private tutor in the family of Col. William Alston and remained four years. On his return, in 1809, he studied law in the Litchfield Law School, was admitted to the bar in Essex Co., Mass., in 1812, and opened an office in Newburyport. His profession proving, in consequence of the War of 1812, unremunerative, he engaged in mercantile business, first in Boston and then in Baltimore, but in this also was unsuccessful. In 1818 he entered the Divinity School at Harvard, and the next year was ordained Pastor of the Hollis Street Church in Boston. During the later years of his long pastorate, by his bold advocacy of the Anti-Slavery, Temperance and other reforms, he aroused the opposition of a portion of his parish, and in 1845, after a protracted controversy, he requested a dismissal. He was then settled as the first pastor of the Unitarian Church in Troy, N. Y., and four years later was called to the First Congregational (Unitarian) Church in Medford, Mass. On the breaking out of the Civil War, though already past 75, he promptly offered his services, and was appointed by Gov. Andrew chaplain of the 22d Mass. regiment. But his strength soon gave way under the hardship and exposure of the service, and he accepted a clerkship in the Treasury Department, which he held until his death. During, the later years of his life he was a believer in the doctrines of Spiritualism.

Pierpont published a number of works, including "Airs of Palestine: A Poem," 1816; "The American First Class Book," 1823; "The National Reader," 1827; and many sermons and religious tracts.

He was married in 1810, to Mary Sheldon Lord, of Litchfield, by whom he had six children. She died at Medford in 1855. In 1857, he married Harriet Campbell Fowler.

Pierpont died in West Medford, Mass., in 1866.

Sources: Obituary Record of Graduates of Yale College, 1867; Franklin Bowditch Dexter, Biographical Sketches of the Graduates of Yale College: June 1792-September 1805 (1911).

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