Weems, Mason Locke

Weems, Mason Locke,

1759–1825, American author and preacher, b. Anne Arundel co., Md., studied theology in London. He was ordained in 1784 and served various Episcopal parishes. For 30 years after 1794 he was a traveling agent for Mathew Carey, bookseller and publisher. Parson Weems is chiefly known for The Life and Memorable Actions of George Washington (c.1800), in the fifth edition of which appears the famous cherry-tree story. He fictionalized this and other biographies he wrote to increase their interest. Weems also wrote moralistic tracts, such as The Drunkard's Looking Glass (1812).


See biography by H. Kellock (1928, repr. 1971).

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Weems, Mason Locke

(1759–1825) clergyman, bookseller, writer; born in Ann Arundel County, Md. Criticized for his sprightly informality as an Episcopal clergyman, "Parson Weems" was well-known for his uplifting sermons, moral tracts, and fictionalized biographies, especially for his best-selling life of George Washington, which went through 86 editions between 1800 and 1827. The fifth edition (1806) saw the first appearance in print of the story of young Washington and the cherry tree. From about 1794 on, Weems traveled between New York and Georgia to sell books and preach sermons.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.