Reverend William Ellery Channing (April 7, 1780 – October 2, 1842) was born in Newport, a grandson of William Ellery, a Rhode Island signer of the Declaration of Independence. He was also raised in Newport prior to graduating from Harvard in 1798. Thereafter he often visited Rhode Island, but he made his career in Boston as America’s foremost minister of Unitarianism, a sect that rejected harsh Calvinistic theology in favor of a gentle, loving relationship with God.
From 1803 until his death Channing was pastor of Boston’s Federal Street Church. His sermons and writings on religious reform and abolitionism had great influence, and his thought contributed to the development of the Transcendentalist movement in New England.
He died in 1842 and is buried in Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, Massachusetts. A monument to his memory graces Newport’s Touro Park.
– (Dr.) Patrick T. Conley