alternative text for graphic

Home | Intellectuals  |  Politics  |  Education

sample alt text
Timothy Dwight, A Discourse delivered at New Haven, February 23, 1800: On the Character of George Washington, Esquire, at the Request of the Citizens.
Dwight Family Papers. Manuscripts & Archives, Yale University.

Michael Pomeranz 09, On the University Chaplaincy

previous button next button
Studies of intellectuals often omit clergy. Clergymen are often great thinkers, especially at universities with religious backgrounds such as Yale. Religion, politics, and Yale most obviously intersect in the career of William Sloane Coffin, best known as a critic of the war in Vietnam. To highlight the novelty of Coffin's role, this exhibit offers three documents related to the varied political contributions of three other Yale men of the cloth: Timothy Dwight, Horace Bushnell, and Reinhold Niebuhr.

Timothy Dwight, Yale College's President from 1795 to his death in 1817, was a religious man running a religious institution. Fittingly, Dwight's funeral oration on George Washington compares the nation's first Commander-in-Chief to Moses, Paul, and Gustavus Adolphus, the protestant hero of the Thirty Years' War. The text of the address praises both Washington's personal characteristics, as well as his political support for federalism and his neutrality. As President of Yale College, Dwight was something of a public figure in Connecticut. He gave the address at the request of New Haven's citizens. Even having been asked to speak by the public, though, he restrains himself from lengthy, direct commentary on Washington's politics.