Clarke, James Freeman

Clarke, James Freeman,

1810–88, American Unitarian clergyman and author, b. Hanover, N.H. While in charge of the Unitarian church in Louisville, Ky. (1833–40), he was for three years editor of the Western Messenger. He helped found the Church of the Disciples in Boston in 1841 and was its pastor until 1888, except in the years from 1850 to 1854. He was (1867–71) a nonresident professor in the Harvard Divinity School. The Transcendental Club, with such members as Bronson Alcott and Emerson, included Clarke, and he was active in the antislavery, woman-suffrage, and other reform movements. Among his books, influential in their day, were Ten Great Religions (2 vol., 1871–83), Orthodoxy: Its Truths and Errors (1866), and Essentials and Non-Essentials in Religion (1878).


See biography by E. E. Hale (1891, repr. 1968), which includes a fragmentary autobiography; study by A. S. Bolster (1954).

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Clarke, James Freeman

(1810–88) Protestant religious leader; born in Hanover, N.H. He graduated from Harvard in 1829, was pastor of the Unitarian Church in Louisville, Ky., and edited the Western Messenger from Louisville (1836–39), in which he published articles by, among others, Emerson and Hawthorne. He returned to Boston and founded the Unitarian Church of the Disciples in 1841. He taught at Harvard Divinity School from 1867–71. A supporter of temperance, the abolition of slavery, and women's suffrage, he was the author of many books, including Ten Great Religions (1871).
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.