Abner Kneeland


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(1774–1844), New England Universalist clergyman and free-thinker, whose doubts concerning the divine origin of the Scriptures appear in A Series of Letters in Defense of Divine Revelation (1816), a correspondence with Hosea Ballou, and in successive liberal religious magazines that he edited. In 1838 he was jailed for his unorthodox views, although defended by Channing, Ripley, Alcott, Garrison, and Emerson, as well as Theodore Parker, who said, “Abner was jugged for sixty days; but he will come out as beer from a bottle, all foaming, and will make others foam.” In 1839 he made an unsuccessful attempt to found a colony in Iowa for his First Society of Free Enquirers.

From The Oxford Companion to American Literature in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Literature.

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