Theodore Parker (1810-1860)
Courtesy of Unitarian Universalist Association Archived on Unitarianism in America website
Dominating audiences by reasoning power, by full knowledge of facts and by the thrill of his moral idealism, Parker’s words disturbed his contemporaries and moved others to humanitarian reforms. From his first ministry in Roxbury, MA Parker developed into a leader in the Transcendentalist circle that believed each person can know truth intuitively by going beyond reason and the five senses and by consulting the spark of the divine within all of us.
In response to the 1850 Fugitive Slave Law, he was a leader of a vigilance committee that helped William and Ellen Craft escape and attempted to rescue Thomas Sims and Anthony Burns.
Under his leadership the Twenty-Eighth Congregational Society of Boson became active in all possible ways for human welfare.
Parker tirelessly campaigned for public education, organized labor, women’s rights and international peace.
- Born August 24, 1810 in Lexington, MA
- Died May 10, 1860 in Florence, Italy
- Buried in the Protestant Cemetery outside of Pinto Gate in Florence, Italy
- Education: District schooling and a few months in Lexington Academy prepared him to teach at age 17. In 1830 he was allowed to take course exams at Harvard even though he was too poor to enroll; he graduated Harvard Divinity School in 1836, and was made an honorary Master of Arts in 1840. He was conversant with 20 languages.
- Married Lydia Cabot of Newton on April 20, 1837
- Wrote articles for the Dial and later founded his own magazine, the Massachusetts Quarterly Review (1847–1850).
- A political theorist who defined democracy as "government of all the people, by all the people, for all the people"--words that inspired Abraham Lincoln.
- “A sermon: of the public function of woman, preached at the Music hall, March 27, 1853.” Women’s History on the Web.
- “Theodore Parker Web Site”. Concrescence: a liberal religious site.
- Unitarianism in America.
- “Theodore Parker”. Dictionary of Unitarian & Universalist Biography.