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Unitarian Minister Henry Whitney Bellows wrote this letter of introduction for the Japanese Minister to the U. S. - a warm friend of mine, and a man deeply interested in the religious education of his country" - in 1873. Bellows was president of the United States Sanitary Commission, which improved the lives of Union soldiers and helped treat the wounded during the American Civil War.
Autograph letter signed "Henry W. Bellows". 2 pages, 4¾x8, 1 sheet folded, front and verso. New York, March 23, 1873. In full: "My dear Mr. Spears, Please receive Mr. Mori, the Japanese Minis ter [sic] to the U. States, as a warm friend of mine, and a man deeply interested in the religious education of his country. He has been [illegible] a good deal among Unitarian Christians, and although not a convert in any technical way to the Christian religion, could not, I think, embrace any form of it- should he adopt any- but it will interest the Board of the British &foreign U. A. to see him, & talk about the prophets of religious and secular education in Japan-. I recommend him to the attention of my friends Mr. Becknell and Mr. Hopgood, & other Enlightened friends of human [illegible], as a man of singular [illegible], breadth & intelligence, &worth of all respect & confidence. Cordially Yours". American Unitarian clergyman and author Bellows (1814-1882) is probably best remembered today for co-founding the United States Sanitary Commission (USSC) during the American Civil War. The USSC, officially created on June 18, 1861, was one of the largest soldier's aid agencies during the war and improved camp conditions and food for Union and captured Confederate soldiers and assisted evacuation and treatment of the wounded. Before it was disbanded in 1866, it also helped Union veterans secure bounties, back pay and pensions. Bellows was the USSC's first and only president. He graduated from Harvard Divinity School in 1837. A brief pastorate in Mobile, Alabama (1837-1838) turned him into a moderate abolitionist. However, Bellows reportedly refused to call slave owners evil like other abolitionists, as he'd been tempted by the good life of the South's white upper class himself. He was then made pastor of the First Congregational Church (Unitarian) in New York City, which he held until his death. An influential voice in Unitarianism, he founded the newspaper the Christian Inquirer in 1847 and edited it and its successor, the Liberal Christian for over three decades. His greatest influence on Unitarianism was his proposing and organizing the National Conference of Unitarian Churches in 1865. He served as president of the National Conference, with short breaks, until 1880. The organization was later absorbed into the American Unitarian Association. Lightly toned and creased. Signature and body of letter are lightly smeared in places but are legible. Show-through touches signature and body of letter. Ink transference inside letter (does not touch signature). Folded twice and unfolded. Otherwise in fine condition.

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Born: June 11, 1814 in Boston, Massachusetts
Died: January 30, 1882 in New York City, New York

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