Rev. John Pierpont

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John Pierpont

Birthdate: (81)
Birthplace: Litchfield, Litchfield County, Connecticut, United States
Death: August 27, 1866 (81)
Medford, Middlesex County, Massachusetts, United States (Heart disease)
Place of Burial: Cambridge, Middlesex County, Massachusetts, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of James Pierpont and Elizabeth Pierpont
Husband of Mary Sheldon Pierpont and Harriet Fowler Louise Pierpont
Father of William Alston Pierpont; Mary Elizabeth Pierpont; Juliet Morgan; Rev. John Pierpont, Jr.; James Lord Pierpont (CSA) and 1 other

Occupation: lawyer, merchant and Unitarian clergyman
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Rev. John Pierpont

John Pierpont From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

John Pierpont (April 6, 1785 – August 27, 1866) was an American poet, who was also successively a teacher, lawyer, merchant, and Unitarian minister. His most famous poem is The Airs of Palestine.


Born in 1785 in Litchfield, Connecticut,[1] John Pierpont had careers as a tutor, attorney, merchant, and minister. In 1816 he began his religious work as a theology student, first in Baltimore and then at Harvard, afterwards accepting an appointment as pastor at the Hollis Street Church in Boston (1819-1845). During his tenure, Pierpont was instrumental in establishing Boston's English Classical School in 1821 and gained national recognition as an educator. He published two of the better-known early school readers in the United States, The American First Class Book (1823) and The National Reader (1827). However, Pierpont's latter years at the Hollis Street Church were characterized by controversy. His social activism for temperance and abolition angered some parishioners, and after a long public battle, he resigned in 1845.

After his resignation, Pierpont served as pastor of a Unitarian church in Troy, New York (1845–1849), and then led the First Parish Church (Unitarian) in Medford, Massachusetts (1849–1856). He ran for Massachusetts governor during the 1840s as a Liberty Party candidate, and in 1850 as a Free Soil Party candidate for the US House of Representatives. After two weeks' service as a 76-year-old military chaplain with the 22nd Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry during the Civil War, Pierpont was given an appointment in the Treasury Department in Washington, which he held from 1861 until his death. He died at Medford, Massachusetts in 1866.

Literary works

Pierpont gained a literary reputation with his book Airs of Palestine: A Poem (1816), re-published in an anthology by the same name in 1840. He also published moral literature, such as Cold Water Melodies and Washington Songster (comp. 1842). In addition, he is probably the anonymous "gentleman" who co-authored The Drunkard; or, The Fallen Saved (1844), attributed to W. H. Smith, an actor and stage manager at Moses Kimball's Boston Museum (theatre). The Drunkard quickly became one of the most popular temperance plays in America.

Pierpont's many published sermons include, among others, The Burning of the Ephesian Letters (1833), Jesus Christ Not a Literal Sacrifice (1834), New Heavens and a New Earth (1837), Moral Rule of Political Action (1839), National Humiliation (1840), and A Discourse on the Covenant with Judas (1842). With publication of Phrenology and the Scriptures (1850), Pierpont became known not only as a reform lecturer, but also as an expert on phrenology and spiritualism.

Pierpont was an important influence on reform-minded antebellum poets. Along with John Greenleaf Whittier’s verse, Pierpont’s poems were frequently recited at public antislavery meetings. Oliver Johnson, a leading antislavery publisher and Garrison associate, published Pierpont’s Anti-Slavery Poems in 1843. The collection contains poems that had appeared mostly in the poetry columns of The Liberator and The National Anti-Slavery Standard. Pierpont’s writings were also anthologized widely in antislavery poetry collections, such as William Allen’s Autographs of Freedom (1853).

John Pierpont did not write the song "Jingle Bells" as erroneously claimed by Robert Fulghum in his collection of essays It Was on Fire When I Lay Down on It (1989). "Jingle Bells" was composed by his son James Lord Pierpont, who lived in Savannah, Georgia, and who was a Confederate soldier during the Civil War, composing songs for the Confederate States of America, including "Our Battle Flag", "Strike for the South", and "We Conquer or Die".


John Pierpont was also the maternal grandfather of financier J. Pierpont Morgan. For detailed genealogical information, see 20>16232 in "PIERPONT (PIERREPONT[E], PIERPOINT, etc.) GENEALOGIES, With Focus on the New England Pier(re)ponts of America."


  • Samuel Atkins Eliot, Heralds of a liberal faith, Volume 2, American Unitarian Association, 1910, p. 185.


  • Obituary by John Neal (friend) Atlantic Monthly 18 (1866) 649-665;
  • Dictionary of American Biography 14: 586-587;
  • John T. Winterich, "Savonarola of Hollis Street," Colophon 20 (1935)

Bibliographic details for "John Pierpont"

  • Page name: John Pierpont
  • Author: Wikipedia contributors
  • Publisher: Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia.
  • Date of last revision: 15 December 2014 22:24 UTC
  • Date retrieved: 7 March 2015 21:12 UTC
  • Permanent link:
  • Primary contributors: Revision history statistics
  • Page Version ID: 638272124


Page 45

45. James Pierpont,5 b New Haven, 4 January, 1761; d Litchfield, Conn., 1840; m (1) 24 September, 1782, Elizabeth Collins (dau. of Charles Collins, of Litchfield) a sister of his two brothers' wives (See Nos. 43 and 44 above) b Litchfield, 25 September, 1755; d South Farms, Conn., 28 July, 1815; m (2) 16 December, 1817, Lucy Crossman. She d 1835. He had issue:

(108) Sherman Pierpont.6

(109) John Pierpont.6

(110) Sarah B. Pierpont 6 b Litchfield, 1787; d young.

(111) Elizabeth Pierpont.6

(112) Sarah B. Pierpont 6 b Litchfield, 1794; d in Brooklyn, N. Y.; m a Mr. Coggeshall

(113) Abby Pierpont.6

(114) James Pierpont 6 d young.

(115) James Morris Pierpont.6

(116) Leonard Pierpont 6 b 28 October, 1819.

Page 63

109. Rev. John Pierpont,6 b Litchfield, Conn., 6 April, 1785; d 1866; m (1) 23 September, 1810, Mary Sheldon Lord. He married a second time, but had no children by his second wife. He is sometimes called the "poet Pierpont," because of a book of poems he published, entitled "Airs of Palestine and other Poems." He was successively a lawyer, merchant and clergyman. From 1819 to 1845 he was pastor of a Congregational Church in Boston, later was minister at Troy, N. Y., and at Medford, Mass. He was an ardent abolitionist and temperance reformer, and when the war broke out in 1861 became chaplain of a Masachusetts regiment. He had issue, all by his first wife:

(354) William Alston Pierpont

(355) Mary E. Pierpont7 b Newburyport, Mass., 18 September, 1812.

(356) Juliet Pierpont

(357) John Pierpont7 b Boston, Mass., 24 November, 1819; lived at Savannah, Ga.

(358) James Pierpont

(359) Caroline Augusta Pierpont

Bibliographic information:

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Rev. John Pierpont's Timeline

April 6, 1785
Litchfield, Litchfield County, Connecticut, United States
July 11, 1811
Age 26
Litchfield, Litchfield County, Connecticut, United States
September 18, 1812
Age 27
Newburyport, Essex County, Massachusetts, United States
July 30, 1816
Age 31
Baltimore, Maryland, USA
November 24, 1819
Age 34
Boston, Suffolk County, Massachusetts, United States
April 25, 1822
Age 37
Boston, Suffolk County, Massachusetts, United States
August 21, 1823
Age 38
Boston, Suffolk County, Massachusetts, United States
August 27, 1866
Age 81
Medford, Middlesex County, Massachusetts, United States