Tag Archives: Timothy Dwight IV

Reverends For Or Against Slavery?

With my research on religion in Suffield in 1774 and how faith helped to abolish slavery, I was able to access a vast list of names and information on people and their plans against slavery. My first connection was made when I learned about Reverend Levi Hart, whom I wrote about in my last post. He was supposedly responsible for coming up with a “blueprint” for the abolition of slavery that was published and discussed in the Hartford Courant in 2002. I later learned that his “blueprint” is titled “Liberty Described and Recommended” and that it was originally a letter addressed to Samuel Hopkins of Rhode Island and then became a sermon. In researching both of these men, along with the terms slavery, 1774, Connecticut, abolition and religion, I was able to come across another, what seemed to be, prominent figure in the act of abolishing slavery in the 1770’s.


Famous photo of Timothy Dwight IV

Timothy Dwight IV, who was the president of Yale in from 1785- 1817, became important in my research because it was said that in 1774 he was a critical figure in creating the Connecticut Society for the Promotion of Freedom, although this group is said to have died out by 1800, supposedly their convictions continued. It turns out that Timothy Dwight IV was a minister who had entered Yale as a student at age 13,he was born in 1752 and died in 1817. Dwight was popularly known for writing epic poems like The Conquest of Canaan. His popularity grew during the time of the American Revolution, however, when he wrote the song Ode to Columbia while he was a chaplain in the army. I am continuing to research his role in the Connecticut Society for the Promotion of Freedom but am struggling because some of the sites that I have come across claim that Dwight was a slave owner himself. Although he did not necessarily agree with it, he still partook in the act. Dwight was a rector of the Hopkins Grammar School in New Haven before becoming president of Yale. He was licensed to preach in 1777 and married Mary Woolsey in 1777. Dwight was a very accomplished man in Connecticut as the nominal head of the states Congregational Church as well as the head of Connecticut’s Federalist Party. Despite his apparent efforts to abolish slavery in 1788, he apparently purchased a slave woman named Naomi that same year. Aside from Dwight I began to learn about his colleagues Jon Trumbull and David Humphreys who all with Dwight created the Hartford Wits, which seemed to be a media source for poetry.


With my continued findings about Dwight and his colleagues, I plan to find more information about his role in Connecticut in 1774 and hopefully gain a better understanding of his intentions in terms of slavery. Although this information is not fully developed, I have found numerous sources and through those sources have found more sources thus I still have a lot of discovering to do about these influential men, their stances and a new slave name that has been addressed, Naomi. Hopefully in my next post I will be able to share more specific information about how these people and their faithfulness potentially helped to abolish slavery in Connecticut or perhaps how they served as aids to the institution.