Inscribed Volume from the Library of William Ellery, Declaration Signer and Abolitionist
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Twelve issues of a non-denominational Christian monthly, featuring edifying essays such as “On the Evils of War,” “On the sinfulness of Infants,” a “Sketch of Mr. William Penn,” a long essay on “The Slave Trade” (in nos. 10 and 12), original poetry (including “Ode to Sickness”), news of overseas congregations, and extracts from missionaries’ letters. WILLIAM ELLERY.
Signed Book. “The Christian Disciple,”
Vol. II (index at front, 12 issues bound together). Boston, 1814. 8½ x 5 1/8”. Inscribed to George Ellery on title page. Contemporary calf-backed marbled paper boards. (Worn, rear cover and last leaf detached. Housed in modern custom leather and cloth case.)
William Ellery (1727-1820) was a Rhode Island politician who, as a member of the Second Continental Congress (1776-1785), signed the Declaration of Independence. He was born in Newport and educated at Harvard, graduating at the age of 15. He worked as a merchant, and then as a customs collector, before finally entering law and politics, becoming active in the Rhode Island Sons of Liberty. After his political service during the Revolution, Ellery was appointed as the first customs collector in Newport under the Constitution, earning a sizeable income, and compiling a substantial library. Ellery also became an abolitionist in his later years.
Ellery’s daughter, Lucy, married William Channing, a prominent Newport attorney. Their son, William Ellery Channing, born in 1780, became an influential theologian and Unitarian leader. According to historian William Fowler, William Ellery Channing frequently “sent Ellery copies of The Christian Disciple, a liberal Christian periodical,” for his edification.
Fowler, William. William Ellery (1973), p. 180.