Samuel Harris was born on 14 June 1814 in East Machias, Maine, and in a fashion typical for youths of his day entered Bowdoin College at the age of fifteen. There, under the tutelage of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, he acquired a lifelong appreciation of learning, especially a love for literature and modern languages such as German and French. He graduated with a BA in 1833 and served the following year as Principal of an academy in Limerick, Maine. Returning to his home town in 1834 he taught at the Washington Academy for one year, and then studied at Andover Theological Seminary from 1835 to 1838 to acquire a BD degree, resuming thereafter a period of teaching at Washington Academy for another three years. In 1841 Harris was ordained a Congregationalist minister and occupied pulpits in Conway (1841–51) and Pittsfield (1851–5) in Massachusetts. Academic pursuits opened new opportunities in 1855 when he began lecturing on theology at Bangor Seminary in his native state. In 1867 he was elected the fifth President of Bowdoin College, and also took the position of lecturer in mental and moral philosophy. Teaching was invigorating, but administration was onerous, so it was with no little relief that Harris accepted the Dwight Professorship of Systematic Theology at Yale Divinity School in 1871, taking over primary theology responsibilities duties at Yale from Theodore Dwight Woolsey, and he held that prestigious chair until his retirement in 1895. During his retirement, he continued to work on the second part of his systematic theology until his death on 25 June 1899 in Litchfield, Connecticut.
From The Dictionary of Modern American Philosophers in Oxford Reference.