Burritt, Elihu

Burritt, Elihu,

1810–79, American reformer, b. New Britain, Conn. A blacksmith, he studied mathematics, languages, and geography and became known as "the learned blacksmith." Profoundly idealistic, he supported many reform causes—antislavery, temperance, and self-education—and he pleaded for them when he edited (1844–51) the weekly Christian Citizen at Worcester, Mass. Most of all, however, he worked to promote world peace, organizing world peace congresses. Burritt argued for cheaper international postal rates and greater intellectual exchange among nations. Among his much-read books were Sparks from the Anvil (1846) and Ten Minute Talks (1873).


See M. Curti, ed., The Learned Blacksmith (his letters and journals, 1937, repr. 1973); biography by P. Tolis (1968).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2013, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved. www.cc.columbia.edu/cu/cup/

Burritt, Elihu

(1810–79) blacksmith, reformer; born in New Britain, Conn. After working as a blacksmith in New Britain, Conn., and Worcester, Mass. (1827–37), and mastering several languages in his spare time, he toured as a lyceum lecturer, becoming known as the "learned blacksmith." In 1844 he founded a newspaper in Worcester, the Christian Citizen, especially to propagate his views on Christian pacifism, and he traveled to England (1846) as an "apostle of peace." In 1858 he founded a journal devoted to the cause of buying and emancipating slaves. Despite Burritt's opposition to the Civil War, President Lincoln appointed him consular agent at Birmingham, England, in 1863; he served until 1870.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.