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John Mitchell Mason

John Mitchell Mason was born on March 19, 1770 in New York City. He attended Columbia University, receiving a bachelor's degree in 1789. In 1792 Mason succeeded his father as pastor of a small ministry in New York. During his tenure with this congregation, he quickly expanded the membership by 600 people. In 1794 Mason received a doctor of divinity degree from Princeton University. He established and organized the first theological seminary of the Associate Reformed Church (now Union Theological Seminary) in 1804, and he helped to establish the Christian Magazine in 1806. He also served as a trustee of Columbia University from 1795 to 1811, and was provost of that institution from 1811 to 1816. While serving as provost, Mason became minister of the Murray Street Church in New York City in 1812. Declining health from excessive work forced him to take leave of his duties in 1816, and then again after suffering a slight stroke upon his return. Following this second recovery, Mason accepted a position as president at the newly reopened Dickinson College, beginning his term in the fall of 1821.

Mason's short, three-year tenure was an administrative success but a personal disaster. John Mitchell Mason married Ann Lefferts in 1792, and the couple had seven children. His son James Hall Mason graduated from Dickinson in 1822 and immediately began teaching at the Grammar School. Tragically, James contracted typhoid fever and died that November. His daughter, Catherine Van Vechten, also died in 1822. These events, as well as Mason's still declining health, led to his decision to resign in 1824 and return to New York City. John Mitchell Mason himself died there on December 26, 1829.

Please visit the following link for materials authored by John Mitchell Mason maintained in the Their Own Words database:

Mason, John Mitchell, 1770-1829.

Researched, authored, and edited by John Osborne, Ph. D., and James Gerencser.

Page created: August 5, 2003 (updated  July 2006)                                            close window