HENRY WHITNEY BELLOWS
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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HENRY WHITNEY BELLOWS
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