Congregational minister and controversial theologian, sometimes called "the father of American religious liberalism." He grew up in the rural surroundings of New Preston, Conn., joined the Congregational Church in 1821, and in 1823 entered Yale with plans to become a minister. After his graduation in 1827, however, he taught school briefly, served as associate editor of the New York Journal of Commerce, and studied law at Yale. Not until 1831, after he had qualified for the bar, did his religious doubts diminish sufficiently for him to begin his theological education. He entered Yale Divinity School and in 1833 was ordained minister of the North Congregational Church in Hartford, where he served for more than 20 years until ill health forced his resignation.
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