Home / General / Erik Visits an American Grave, Part 46

Erik Visits an American Grave, Part 46

Comments
/
/
/
232 Views

This is the grave of Timothy Dwight.

2016-05-07 11.59.06

Timothy Dwight IV was born in 1752 in Northampton, Massachusetts. His family already had deep ties to Yale and not only was it inevitable that young Timmy would go there, but that he would become a leader in the institution. His mother was the daughter of Jonathan Edwards after all. He graduated from Yale in 1769 and became a minister. In 1777, he was appointed the chaplain for the Connecticut Continental Brigade, fighting for American independence. He gave many sermons about American nationalism and became a rising star in the ministerial world. He became president of Yale in 1795, where he served until his death in 1817. While there, he was known for his doctrinal and political conservatism and his hatred of anything having to do with the French Revolution. He turned Yale sharply to the right after he took over an institution in 1795 where students openly admired Voltaire and made it one of the most conservative colleges in the United States. He railed in speeches against Yale students being attracted to the twin doctrines of Jacobinism and atheism, which were connected in his head. He led the fight against the separation of church and state in Connecticut and was the head of the state’s Federalist Party. Of electing Thomas Jefferson in 1800, Dwight said “Is in an infidel? Then you cannot elect him without betraying our Lord.” In response, Jeffersonian papers said, “Connecticut is more under the administration of a pope than Italy.” Dwight died of prostate cancer in 1817, still president of Yale.

Timothy Dwight is buried in Grove Street Cemetery, New Haven, Connecticut

FacebookTwitterGoogle+Share
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google+
  • Linkedin
  • Pinterest
  • Nobdy

    It always fascinates me just how small the states were (in terms of population) at the beginning of the country. The idea that even a relatively small state like Connecticut could be said to be under the “administration” of a president of Yale is now pretty absurd, but back then there were so many fewer people (I think around a quarter million in Connecticut in 1800) and so many fewer college graduates that the president of a state’s main university would have had a lot more sway and influence, just through personal relationships (there were also many fewer counterbalancing rich and powerful institutions too.)

    You have these shadow governments and personal relationships that just don’t seem to exist on the same scale anymore (though of course things haven’t entirely changed.)

    • AMK

      Nowadays the football coach of the state’s main university has significantly more power than the President, who is basically just a fancy telemarketer dialing for dollars.

  • N__B

    His mother was the daughter of Jonathan Edwards after all.

    So Dwight was Aaron Burr’s first cousin? That might (doesn’t have to, but might) reflect on his opinion of Jefferson.

    • Dwight was such an arch-Federalist that I doubt it was a deciding factor.

      • N__B

        Are you suggesting that american politics might be divisive and polarized? I need a fainting couch…

        • David Broder rolls in his grave

          • Aubergine

            Nah, because then Broder would have to decide between rolling left or rolling right. Better to lie inert and maintain one’s strict Centrist Bipartisanitude.

            • Nah, because then Broder would have to decide between rolling left or rolling right.

              If he can’t roll, let him pitch or yaw. (Assume a spherical coffin.)

  • KadeKo

    Did you get a pie on Wooster St?

    • I have never had New Haven pizza, I am sad to say.

  • Murc

    Timothy Dwight IV was born in 1752

    He graduated from Yale in 1769 and became a minister.

    Is this as impressively precocious in the context of the 18th century as it would be today? Because these days graduating from Yale at 17 would make you some kind of crazy genius.

    • Significantly more common in 1769 than today, although not exactly the norm.

      • Lurker

        Yes. Entering university at 15 years of age was pretty typical stuff for your great men of the 18th and even early 19th century. Graduating at 17 is impressive, though.

        However, becoming a minister at 17 raises my eyebrows. Didn’t the local established church have any rules against that? In Sweden, the old canon law rule that the priest must be at least 25 was followed religiously. And it is a good rule. A 17-year-old is altogether too immature.

        • UserGoogol

          I don’t know the specifics of how they did things in Connecticut back then, but Timothy Dwight was a Congregationalist and their whole thing is giving individual congregations a rather free rein. How much local control there actually was varied, as various theological and organizational disputes were going on at the time, but they didn’t have the hierarchy that Lutherans have to help impose that sort of rule.

          • The Dark God of Time

            According to the Wiki, he was given a license to preach at the age of 25, so there was some control past his initial ordination.

        • BiloSagdiyev

          Yes, no matter what talents a preacher in his late teens might have, he’s still at risk of being swindled by the local oil mogul.

  • Lurker

    Dwight’s idea that Jacobinism and atheism were interconnected is rather well-founded in reality. Jacobins were, by and large, deists, which was in many cases just a cover for total atheism. They instituted in France the Cult of Reason, and tried to abolish Christian religion altogether. Calling Jacobins atheists is, as a rhetorical choice, quite justified, although it is a simplification.

    • JG

      I think it’s quite complicated and most Jacobins wouldn’t identify as atheists, even at the height of the de-Christianization movement. What makes it even more complicated is that many Jacobins, like Napoleon, would change their political views many times.

      • Lurker

        In the 18th cemtury, no one really identified as an atheist. There are only a couple of writers who used that identification, and even for them, it was for the shock value, like with Marquis de Sade. So, the term was almost always used as a characterisation of one’s opponent, and anyone listening would know this. That is why I called it a justified rhetoric choice.

      • BiloSagdiyev

        What makes it even more complicated is that many Jacobins, like Napoleon, would change their political views many times.

        Somehow I suspect that just makes religious fundamentalists madder. They like to keep it simple. They are eager to make it simple. They are eager to make you do it their way to keep it simple.

  • JG

    I bet he hated freemasonry too.

It is main inner container footer text