William Henry Channing

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William Henry Channing
File:William Henry Channing.jpg
Born (1810-05-25)May 25, 1810
Boston, Massachusetts
Died December 23, 1884(1884-12-23) (aged 74)
London, England
Occupation Clergyman, Writer, Philosopher
Language English
Nationality American
Alma mater Harvard College, Harvard Divinity School

William Henry Channing (May 25, 1810 – December 23, 1884) was an American Unitarian clergyman, writer and philosopher.


William Henry Channing was born in Boston, Massachusetts. Channing's father, Francis Dana Channing, died when he was an infant,[citation needed] and responsibility for the young man's education was assumed by his uncle, William Ellery Channing, the pre-eminent Unitarian theologian of the early nineteenth century. The younger William graduated from Harvard College in 1829 and from Harvard Divinity School in 1833. He was ordained and installed over the Unitarian church in Cincinnati in 1835. He became warmly interested in the schemes of Charles Fourier and others for social reorganization. He moved to Boston about 1847, afterward to Rochester, New York and to New York City, where, both as preacher and editor, he became a leader in a movement of Christian socialism.[1] As an early supporter of the socialistic movement in the United States, he was editor of the Present, the Spirit of the Age and the Harbinger. In 1848 he presided over The Religious Union of Associationists in Boston, a socialist group which included many members of the Brook Farm commune.

Channing took active part in the early years of the woman’s rights movement. He signed the call for and attended the first National Woman's Rights Convention in 1850, where he was appointed to the National Woman’s Rights Central Committee. With Susan B. Anthony, he organized the first woman suffrage petition campaign in New York, for which he drafted the petition and, with Ernestine Rose, addressed a select committee of the New York senate in February 1854.[2]

In 1857, Channing succeeded James Martineau as minister of the Hope Street Unitarian Chapel, Liverpool, England. At the commencement of the American Civil War, he returned (1862) and took charge of the Unitarian church in Washington, D. C. William Henry Channing, along with the younger Ellery Channing, was a Transcendentalist. He was a prolific writer, contributing to the North American Review, the Dial, the Christian Examiner, and other serials, a member of the Transcendental Club, and corresponded with Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Among his inspirational writings, one piece, his "Symphony", is well-known:

To live content with small means; to seek elegance rather than luxury, and refinement rather than fashion; to be worthy, not respectable, and wealthy, not rich; to listen to stars and birds, babes and sages, with open heart; to study hard; to think quietly, act frankly, talk gently, await occasions, hurry never; in a word, to let the spiritual, unbidden and unconscious, grow up through the common — this is my symphony.[3]

Channing was, in 1863 and 1864, the Chaplain of the United States House of Representatives. He died in London.

Larger works


See also


  1. Wikisource-logo.svg Wilson, James Grant; Fiske, John, eds. (1900). [https%3A%2F%2Fen.wikisource.org%2Fwiki%2FAppletons%27_Cyclop%C3%A6dia_of_American_Biography%2FChanning%2C_William_Ellery "Channing, William Ellery" ] Check |ws link in chapter= value (help). Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography. New York: D. Appleton.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Million, Joelle (2003) Woman's Voice, Woman's Place: Lucy Stone and the Birth of the Women's Rights Movement, Praeger ISBN 0-275-97877-X, pp. 106, 293 note 26, 167, 172.
  3. Octavius Brooks Frothingham (1886) Memoir of William Henry Channing, p. 166, Houghton, Mifflin and Company, New York and Boston

External links