Strangers to Us All Lawyers and Poetry

John Pierpont

Connecticut & Massachusetts

Glass Negative Contact Print
Mathew Brady Photographer, 1863


[The photo appears in Dwight C. Kilbourn, The Bench and Bar of Litchfield Connecticut With a history of its Famous Law School The first in America 347 (Litchfield, Connecticut: The Author, 1909), where it is signed by Pierpont, with the note, "abt. 79 yrs."]

John Pierpont was a preacher, poet, lawyer, candidate for Massachusetts governor and other state offices.

The following biographical sketch of Pierpont is from Rufus Wilmot Griswold, The Poets and Poetry of America 97-98 (New York: James Miller, Publisher, 1872):

Mr. Pierpont entered Yale College when fifteen years old, and was graduated in the summer of 1804. During a part of 1805, he assisted the Reverend Doctor Backus, in an academy of which he was principal previous to his election to the presidency of Hamilton College; and in the autumn of the same year, following the example of many young men of New England, he went to the southern states, and was for nearly four years a private tutor in the family of Colonel William Allston, of South Carolina, spending a portion of his time in Charleston, and the remainder on the estate of Colonel Allston, on the Waccamaw, near Georgetown. Here he commenced his legal studies, which he continued after his return to his native state in 1809, in the school Justices Reeve and Gould; and in 1812, he was admitted to the bar, in Essex county, Massachusetts. Soon after the commencement of the second war with Great Britain, being appointed to address the Washington Benevolent Society of Newburyport, his place of residence, he delivered and afterward published "The Portrait," the earliest of the poems in the recent edition of his works.

In consequence of the general prostration of business in New England during the war, and of his health, which at this time demanded a more active life, he abandoned the profession of law, and became interested in mercantile transactions, first in Boston, and afterward in Baltimore; but these resulting disastrously, in 1816, he sought a solace in literary pursuits, and in the same year published "The Airs of Palestine."

* * * *

Soon after the publication of the "Airs of Palestine," Mr. Pierpont entered seriously upon the study of theology, first by himself, in Baltimore, and afterward as a member of the theological school connected with Harvard College. He left that seminary in October, 1818, and in April, 1819, was ordained as minister of the Hollis Street Unitarian Church, in Boston, as successor to the Reverend Doctor Holley, who had recently been elected to the presidency of the Transylvania University, in Kentucky.

In 1835 and 1836, in consequence of impaired health, he spend a year abroad, passing through the principal cities in England, France, and Italy, and extending his tour into the East, visiting Smyrna, the ruins of Ephesus, in Asia Minor, Constantinople [Istanbul], and Athens, Corinth, and some of the other cities of Greece.

In 1848 he became minister of the Unitarian church in Medord, with which he remained until April, 1956, when he finally retired from the pulpit.

At the age of 70, Pierpont became a chaplain for the US Army. He was, at the time of his death, a clerk in the Treasury Department in Washington, D.C.

[Bio from Dwight C. Kilbourn, The Bench and Bar of Litchfield Connecticut With a history of its Famous Law School The first in America 272 (Litchfield, Connecticut: The Author, 1909): "JOHN PIERPONT, born in Litchfield April 6, 1785. Graduated at Yale College in 1804. Studied law at the Litchfield Law School and was admitted to this Bar in 1810. He removed to Newburyport, Mass., where after a short practice of law he became an Unitarian Minister. He edited a large number of school books; the old fashioned National Precepter, being perhaps the best known of them. He was also a poet, and his 'Stand, the ground's your own my braves!' has been the standard for boyhood declamations, during the last three-quarters of a century. His poem delivered at our Centennial celebration in 1851, has also become classical. In his earlier years he, like many of the Boston celebreties, was not fastedious in his dress, and the portrait we publish of him [below] is said by all our old men to be a characteristic one. The second [below] . . . looks as he did in later life, when he held a clerical position in one of the Government departments in Washington. He was the ancestor of John Pierpont Morgan, the noted banker and financier. Mr. Pierpont died at Medford, Mass., August 27, 1866."

Dwight C. Kilbourn, The Bench and Bar of Litchfield Connecticut: With a History of Its Famous Law School The First in America 272 (Litchfield, Connecticut: The Author, 1909)]

John Pierpont

Rev. John Pierpont
Harper's Weekly
September 15, 1866

John Pierpont
Rufus Wilmot Griswold, The Poets and Poetry of America 79-86
(Philadelphia: Carey and Hart, 1848)

John Pierpont
Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography
(New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1887-1889)(James Grant Wilson & John Fiske eds.)(6 vols.)

John Pierpont

used with permission of CyberHymnal


John Pierpont, Airs of Palestine, a Poem (Baltimore: Printed for the author, 1816)(Boston: Wells & Lilly, 1817) [online text] [online text]

___________, Airs of Palestine and Other Poems (Boston: James Munroe & Co., Boston 1840) [online text]

___________, The Anti-Slavery Poems of John Pierpont (Boston: Oliver Johnson, 1843)(Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Literature House, 1970) [Boston: Oliver Johnson, 1843 ed., online text] [online text]

Emily Taylor, Lays for the Sabbath: A Collection of Religious Poetry (Boston: Walker, Wise, 1860)(revised by John Pierpont) [online text]


John Pierpont, The American First Class Book (Boston: Cummings, Hillard, & Co., 1825) [online text] (Boston: Hilliard, Gray, Little, and Wilkins, 1828)(Boston: Carter, Hendee, & Co., 1835) [online text]

___________, The National Reader (Boston: Richardson, Lord and Holbrook, 1829)(Boston: Richardson, Lord and Holbrook and Hilliard, Gray, Little and Wilkins, 1832) [online text]

__________, The Young Reader: To Go With The Spelling Book (Boston: David H. Williams, 15th ed. 1839) [online text]

__________, Cold Water Melodies, and Washington Songster (Boston: T. Abbot, 1842)(2nd ed., 1843)

__________, Lays for the Sabbath: A Collection of Religious Poetry (Boston: Walker, Wise, & Co., 1860)(compiled by Emily Taylor, revised with additions by Pierpont) [online text]