John Ewing (1732–1802) was pastor of the First Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia from 1759 until his death in 1802 and served as the provost (president) of the University of Pennsylvania from 1780 to 1802. He also was a noted mathematician.
The University of Pennsylvania is a private Ivy League research university located in the University City neighborhood of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It is one of the nine colonial colleges founded prior to the Declaration of Independence and the first institution of higher learning in the United States to refer to itself as a university. Benjamin Franklin, Penn's founder and first president, advocated an educational program that trained leaders in commerce, government, and public service, similar to a modern liberal arts curriculum. The university's coat of arms features a dolphin on its red chief, adopted from Benjamin Franklin's own coat of arms.
Ewing and his twin brother, James, were born on June 22, 1732, in Cecil County, Province of Maryland. Their parents, Nathaniel Ewing and Rachel Porter, had emigrated to America several years earlier from Northern Ireland. Ewing married Hannah Sergeant in 1758, and they had 12 children.
The Province of Maryland was an English and later British colony in North America that existed from 1632 until 1776, when it joined the other twelve of the Thirteen Colonies in rebellion against Great Britain and became the U.S. state of Maryland. Its first settlement and capital was St. Mary's City, in the southern end of St. Mary's County, which is a peninsula in the Chesapeake Bay and is also bordered by four tidal rivers.
Ireland is an island in the North Atlantic. It is separated from Great Britain to its east by the North Channel, the Irish Sea, and St George's Channel. Ireland is the second-largest island of the British Isles, the third-largest in Europe, and the twentieth-largest on Earth.
Ewing was educated at a Pennsylvania prep school run by the Rev. Francis Alison, a respected classical scholar, and at the College of New Jersey (today's Princeton University), where he graduated with the class of 1754.
Francis Alison (1705–1779) was a leading minister in the Synod of Philadelphia during The Old Side-New Side Controversy
Princeton University is a private Ivy League research university in Princeton, New Jersey. Founded in 1746 in Elizabeth as the College of New Jersey, Princeton is the fourth-oldest institution of higher education in the United States and one of the nine colonial colleges chartered before the American Revolution. The institution moved to Newark in 1747, then to the current site nine years later, and renamed itself Princeton University in 1896.
After working as a tutor at Alison's school, Ewing joined the faculty at the College of Philadelphia (today's University of Pennsylvania) in 1758 as a professor of ethics. He became a professor of natural philosophy in 1762.
In 1759, Ewing also became a pastor at the First Presbyterian Church, where Alison also had served as a pastor.Ewing's sermons were popular with the general churchgoers and educated elites, according to a Presbyterian historian. A selection of his sermons was published in 1812.
Ewing's senior role in the Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia earned him a position on the University of Pennsylvania's board of trustees from 1779 to 1802. He became the university's provost in 1780.
Ewing's scientific pursuits included observing the 1769 Transit of Venus from an observatory at the State House Yard and assisting with the routing of the boundary line for the state of Delaware and the path for the Philadelphia and Lancaster Turnpike. He joined the American Philosophical Society in 1768 and served as the treasurer of the Corporation for the Relief of Poor and Distressed Presbyterian Ministers, one of the earliest American life insurance companies.
Ewing traveled to Britain in 1773 to raise money for the Newark Academy in Delaware. During the trip, he was awarded an honorary doctor of divinity from the University of Edinburgh and met with a number of prominent Britons, including Lord North, who was the prime minister, and Dr. Samuel Johnson, the English writer.
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