Archives and Special Collections
P.O. Box 1773
Carlisle, PA 17013
Dr. William Ellery Channing was born on April 7, 1780, in New Port, Rhode Island. His maternal grandfather signed the Declaration of Independence and fought against the slave trade. His father provided the defense for a slave owner in the courtroom. As a New England liberal he rejected the Calvinist doctrines of depravity and divine election. In 1798, Channing graduated from Harvard University and became one of the most influential early twentieth century Unitarian preachers. He was renowned for his articulate and impassioned sermons. Channing believed strongly that slavery was evil and that it should be abolished. He did not agree, however, with the abolitionist movement, which led to misunderstandings about his position on slavery. While Channing fought for the end of slavery, he did not see Africans Americans as equal and believed that they needed others to guide them. William Ellery Channing died on October 2, 1842.