Thomas Whittemore (Universalist)

Last updated
Thomas Whittemore grave, Mount Auburn Cemetery Thomas Whittemore - Sculpture in Mount Auburn Cemetery - DSC06491.JPG
Thomas Whittemore grave, Mount Auburn Cemetery

Thomas Whittemore (January 1, 1800 – March 21, 1861 in Cambridge, Massachusetts) was a Christian Universalist author, speaker and influential member of the Universalist Church of America. He founded and was the editor of The Trumpet and Universalist magazine, which succeeded the Universalist magazine of Hosea Ballou in 1828. [1] [2]

Cambridge, Massachusetts City in Massachusetts, United States

Cambridge is a city in Middlesex County, Massachusetts, and part of the Boston metropolitan area.

Universalist Church of America organization

The Universalist Church of America was a Christian Universalist religious denomination in the United States. Known from 1866 as the Universalist General Convention, the name was changed to the Universalist Church of America in 1942. In 1961, it consolidated with the American Unitarian Association to form the Unitarian Universalist Association.

Hosea Ballou American Universalist minister (1771–1852)

Hosea Ballou was an American Universalist clergyman and theological writer.


Like Ballou and Ballou's grand-nephew, Hosea Ballou II, first president of Tufts College, Whittemore contributed to Universalist historiography by identifying precedents for Universalist beliefs in earlier Christianity. [3] With Thomas J. Sawyer of New York, he co-founded the Universalist Historical Society in 1834. [4] These histories were influential in bringing many readers to regard the Christians of the first centuries as Universalists. [5]

Hosea Ballou II was an American Universalist minister and the first president of Tufts University from 1853 to 1861. Ballou was named after his uncle and went by the name "Hosea Ballou 2d. " Publishers, friends, editors, Tufts University staff, and others generally followed this example. The title of this Wikipedia article reflects the more recent generational suffix usage of the Roman numeral II for those named for an uncle. Note also that Ballou used the ordinal number suffix "2d" rather than "2nd."

Tufts University private research university in Medford/Somerville, Massachusetts

Tufts University is a private research university in Medford and Somerville, Massachusetts. A charter member of the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC), Tufts College was founded in 1852 by Christian universalists who worked for years to open a nonsectarian institution of higher learning. It was a small New England liberal arts college until its transformation into a larger research university in the 1970s. The university emphasizes active citizenship and public service in all its disciplines, and is known for its internationalism and study abroad programs.

Massachusetts Legislature

From 1831-1836, Whittemore served as Cambridge's representative in the Massachusetts legislature, serving as chair of the committee that oversaw the disestablishment of the Congregational Church and Unitarian Church, to whose special status Whittemore was opposed, from the privileged position they had been accorded in the Massachusetts Constitution. Whittmore held that "no civil government has a right to compel the citizens to support any system of religion whatsoever" and supported calls for a popular referendum on the separation of church and state in 1834. The results of that referendum brought Massachusetts into accord with the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. [6] [7] [8]

The American Unitarian Association (AUA) was a religious denomination in the United States and Canada, formed by associated Unitarian congregations in 1825. In 1961, it consolidated with the Universalist Church of America to form the Unitarian Universalist Association.

The separation of church and state is a philosophic and jurisprudential concept for defining political distance in the relationship between religious organizations and the nation state. Conceptually, the term refers to the creation of a secular state and to disestablishment, the changing of an existing, formal relationship between the church and the state.

First Amendment to the United States Constitution Law guaranteeing freedom of speech, religion, assembly, press and petitions and prohibiting establishment of an official religion

The First Amendment to the United States Constitution prevents the government from making laws which respect an establishment of religion, prohibit the free exercise of religion, or abridge the freedom of speech, the freedom of the press, the right to peaceably assemble, or the right to petition the government for redress of grievances. It was adopted on December 15, 1791, as one of the ten amendments that constitute the Bill of Rights.

He was buried in Mount Auburn Cemetery.

His papers are in the Andover-Harvard Theological Library at Harvard Divinity School in Cambridge, Massachusetts; the Thomas Whittemore family papers are at Tufts University's Digital Collections and Archives.

Harvard Divinity School seminary

Harvard Divinity School is one of the constituent schools of Harvard University, located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States. As of June 2015, the school's mission is to train and educate its students either in the academic study of religion, or for the practice of a religious ministry or other public service vocation. It also caters to students from other Harvard schools that are interested in the former field. Harvard Divinity School is among a small group of university-based, non-denominational divinity schools in the United States (the others include the University of Chicago Divinity School, Yale Divinity School, Vanderbilt University Divinity School, Wake Forest University School of Divinity, and Claremont Graduate University-School of Religion.


"The glory of God, and of His Son Jesus Christ, as manifested in the final holiness and happiness of all men, is the central sun of Universalism."

-Thomas Whittemore, Plain Guide to Universalism [9]



  1. Paul Finkelman Encyclopedia of the United States in the Nineteenth Century 2001 "Thomas Whittemore (1800-1861) Whittemore was one of Universalism's most ardent defenders and the editor of Trumpet and Universalist'"
  2. UUA org bio Archived 2010-10-01 at the Wayback Machine
  3. Whittemore, The early days of Thomas Whittemore: An Autobiography "extended through nine years; edited in the first two volumes by Rev. Hosea Ballou; in a part of the second, and up to the end of the seventh volume, by Hosea Ballou, Hosea Ballou, 2d, and Thomas Whittemore"
  4. Russell E. Miller The larger hope: the first century of the Universalist Church in 1979 "became the Universalist Historical Society in 1834 was shared by Thomas J. Sawyer of New York, and Thomas Whittemore, editor of the Trumpet in Boston. According to Whittemore, it was Sawyer who originally conceived the idea.
  5. George Huntston Williams American universalism: a bicentennial historical essay (1976), p 94
  6. Alan Seaburg, Thomas Dahill Cambridge on the Charles (2001), p. 26
  7. The Princeton Encyclopedia of American Political History Vol. 1, ed. Michael Kazin, Rebecca Edwards, Adam Rothman (2009), "Disestablishment of the Congregationalist churches in Massachusetts"
  8. Stephen Higginson Clark The Politics of Disestablishment in Massachusetts, 1820-1833 (1965)
  9. 1 2 John Benedict Buescher, The other side of salvation: spiritualism and the Nineteenth-Century Religious Experience (2004)

Related Research Articles

In Christian theology, universal reconciliation is the doctrine that all sinful and alienated human souls—because of divine love and mercy—will ultimately be reconciled to God. The doctrine has generally been rejected by Christian religion, which holds to the doctrine of special salvation that only some members of humanity will eventually enter heaven, but it has received support from many prestigious Christian thinkers as well as many groups of Christians. The Bible itself has a variety of verses that, on the surface, seem to support a plurality of views.

Adin Ballou American minister (1803–1890)

Adin Ballou was an American prominent proponent of pacifism, socialism and abolitionism, and the founder of the Hopedale Community. Through his long career as a Universalist, and then Unitarian minister, he tirelessly sought social reform through his radical Christian and socialist views. His writings drew the admiration of Leo Tolstoy, who sponsored Russian translations of some of Ballou's works.

Richard Eddy, D.D. was an American Universalist clergyman, born at Providence, R. I. He was a chaplain of the Sixtieth New York Volunteers during the American Civil War. From 1877 to 1906 he was president of the Universalist Historical Society and from 1886 to 1891 he was editor of the Universalist Register. He wrote:

Christian universalism Christian belief that all will be reconciled to God

Christian universalism is a school of Christian theology focused around the doctrine of universal reconciliation – the view that all human beings will ultimately be "saved" and restored to a right relationship with God.

Clarence Russell Skinner (1881–1949) was a Universalist Minister, Teacher, and Dean of the Crane School of Theology at Tufts University.

Unitarian Universalist Church of Medford and the Osgood House church building in Massachusetts, United States of America

The Unitarian Universalist Church of Medford and The Osgood House are a historic Unitarian Universalist church building and parsonage house at 141 and 147 High Street in Medford, Massachusetts.

First Universalist Church (Salem, Massachusetts) historic Universalist church building at 211 Bridge Street in Salem, Massachusetts

The First Universalist Society of Salem is a historic Universalist former church building at 211 Bridge Street in Salem, Massachusetts.

The Crane Theological School was a Universalist seminary at Tufts University founded in 1869 as the Tufts College Divinity School and closed in 1968. It was one of three Universalist seminaries founded in America during the nineteenth century. During its history, it granted 281 Bachelor of Divinity degrees, 152 bachelor of sacred theology degrees, and two masters of religious education for a total of 435 degrees.

Paul Dean (minister) American minister

Paul Dean (1789–1860) was an American 19th-century universalist minister. He was pastor in Boston, Massachusetts, of the First Universalist Church on Hanover Street (ca.1813) and the Central Universalist Church on Bulfinch Street (1823–1840).

Thomas Baldwin Thayer was the leading Universalist theologian in the late nineteenth century.

John Wesley Hanson D.D. (1823–1901) was an American Universalist minister and a notable Universalist historian advancing the claim that Universalism was the belief of early Christianity. He was born at Boston.

Caroline Augusta White Soule, was an American novelist, poet, religious writer, editor, and ordained Universalist minister, who was in 1880 the first woman to be ordained as a minister in the United Kingdom; first president and one of the founders of the Woman's Centenary Aid Association, the earliest national organization of American church women; and the first Universalist Church of America missionary when sent to Scotland in 1878.

Ballou Hall building in Medford, Massachusetts, United States

Ballou Hall is a historic academic building on the campus of Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts. Built in 1852 and designed by Gridley J.F. Bryant, it was Tufts' first academic building following the university's establishment by a group of Universalists. The building was later restored by McKim, Mead, and White and remains the center of administration for the university.

Mary Hall Barrett Adams was a 19th-century American book editor and letter writer.

Caroline Mehitable Fisher Sawyer was an American poet, biographer, and editor. Her writings ranged through a wide variety of themes.