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Ezra Stiles

(1727—1795) college head


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(1727–95), grandson of Edward Taylor, graduated from Yale (1746) and became a tutor at the college (1749–55). During two of these years he practiced law at New Haven, after which for 22 years he was a pastor of Congregational churches in Rhode Island and New Hampshire, returning to Yale to become its president (1778–95). He was one of the most learned Americans of his time, and his ruling passion was to be a universal scholar. He was engaged in activities that ranged from the promulgation of silk manufacture in New England to helping found Brown University, and his boundless intellectual pleasure in the acquisition of knowledge is evidenced in the posthumously published Literary Diary (3 vols., 1901), Extracts from the Itineraries and Other Miscellanies (1916), and Letters and Papers (1933), although he wrote little for publication during his lifetime. Except for a few Latin orations and some sermons, he produced only An Account of the Settlement of Bristol, Rhode Island (1785) and A History of Three of the Judges of King Charles I (1794), a study of the regicides Whalley, Dixwell, and Goffe, who had fled to New England. The Life of Ezra Stiles (1798) was written by his son-in-law, Abiel Holmes.

From The Oxford Companion to American Literature in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Literature.


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