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Rev. William Patton

Congregationalist | Abolitionist

Judgment on Jerusalem

William Patton

Archive of Works | Exegesis of I. Peter, III. 18-20; or Christ's Preaching to the Spirits-in-Prison | Invites Finney for Revival | Is the Doctrine of the Final Restoration of all Men Scriptural? | Slavery, the Bible, Infidelity: Pro-slavery Interpretations of the Bible: Productive of Infidelity

William, clergyman, born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. 23 August, 1798; died in New Haven, Connecticut. 9 September, 1879, was graduated at Middlebury in 1818, and, after studying at Princeton theological seminary, was ordained. During twenty-six years of his life he was pastor of churches in New York city. From 1834 till 1837 he was secretary of the American education society. He spent the latter part of his life in New Haven, Connecticut, engaged in literary and ministerial work. He was the first to suggest the idea of the World's evangelical alliance, which he did in a letter to Reverend John Angell James, of England. in 1843. He attended the convention in London in August, 1846, that organized the alliance. He was a founder of the New York union theological seminary, and first proposed its establishment. He made fourteen visits to Europe between 1825 and 1879. He was an earnest opponent of slavery, and for forty years a member of the executive committee of the American home missionary society. His views on the subject of temperance were equally radical. In the pulpit he was characterized not so much by breadth and accuracy of scholarship, finish of style, or elegance of delivery, as by his strong grasp upon his subject, his simplicity, directness, aptness, and freshness. He received the degree of D. D. from the University of the city of New York. Besides editing President Jonathan Edwards's work on "Revivals" and Charles G. Finney's " Lectures on Revivals" (London, 1839), preparing the American editions of "The Cottage Bible." of which over 170,000 copies were sold, and " The Village Testament" (New York, 1833), and assisting in editing "The Christian Psalmist" (1836), he published "The Laws of Fermentation and the Wines of the Ancients" (1871); "The Judgment of Jerusalem , Predicted in Scripture, Fulfilled in History" (London, 1879) ; "Jesus of Nazareth" (1878) ; and" Bible Principles and Bible Characters" (Hartford, 1879). --Robert's grandson, William Weston, clergyman, born in New York city, 19 October, 1821, was graduated at the University of the city of New York in 1839 and at the Union theological seminary in 1842. After taking charge of a Congregational church in Boston, Massachusetts, for three years, he became pastor of one in Hartford, Connecticut, in 1846, and in Chicago, Illinois, in 1857. From 1867 till 1872 he was editor of "The Advance" in that city, and during 1874 he was lecturer on modern skepticism at Oberlin, Ohio, and Chicago theological seminaries, since which time he has been president of Howard university, Washington, D. C., filling the chair of natural theology and evidences of Christianity in its theological department. He took an earnest part in the anti-slavery movement, and was chairman of the committee that presented to President Lincoln, 13 September, 1862, the memorial from Chicago asking him to issue a proclamation of emancipation. He was vice-president of the Northwestern sanitary commission during the civil war, and as such repeatedly visited the eastern and western armies, publishing several pamphlet, reports. In 1886 he went, on behalf of the freedmen, to Europe, where, and in the Orient, he remained nearly a year. He received the degree of D. D. from Asbury (now De Pauw) university, Indiana, in 1864, and that of LL.D. from the University of the city of New York in 1882. He is the author of "The Young Man" (Hartford, 1847; republished as "The Young Man's Friend," Auburn, New York, 1850) ; "Conscience and Law" (New York, 1850);" Slavery and Infidelity" (Cincinnati, 1856); " Spiritual Victory" (Boston, 1874); and '" Prayer and its Remarkable Answers " (Chicago, 1875).

John Brown by Rev. William W. Patton written in October 1861

This is a variant of the Tiger Battalion’s song which first appeared in the Chicago Tribune on December 16, 1861. Patton was pastor of the First Congregational Church in Chicago during the Civil War, and later served as president of Howard University in Washington, D.C.

Old John Brown’s body lies moldering in the grave,
While weep the sons of bondage whom he ventured all to save;
But tho he lost his life while struggling for the slave,
His soul is marching on.

John Brown was a hero, undaunted, true and brave,
And Kansas knows his valor when he fought her rights to save;
Now, tho the grass grows green above his grave,
His soul is marching on.

He captured Harper’s Ferry, with his nineteen men so few,
And frightened "Old Virginny" till she trembled thru and thru;
They hung him for a traitor, themselves the traitor crew,
But his soul is marching on.

John Brown was John the Baptist of the Christ we are to see,
Christ who of the bondmen shall the Liberator be,
And soon thruout the Sunny South the slaves shall all be free,
For his soul is marching on.

The conflict that he heralded he looks from heaven to view,
On the army of the Union with its flag red, white and blue.
And heaven shall ring with anthems o’er the deed they mean to do,
For his soul is marching on.

Ye soldiers of Freedom, then strike, while strike ye may,
The death blow of oppression in a better time and way,
For the dawn of old John Brown has brightened into day,
And his soul is marching on.


Robert Patton

PATTON, Robert, patriot, born in Westport, Ireland, in 1755; died in New York city, 3 January, 1814. He was brought to this country when he was seven years of age, and resided in Philadelphia. In October, 1776, he enlisted as a private in the Revolutionary army, was taken prisoner by the British, and confined for some time in New York city. After his liberation he rose to the rank of major and served under Lafayette. He was early a member of the Society of the Cincinnati. In 1789 he was appointed postmaster of Philadelphia, that office then being the most important in the country. He discharged the duties for nearly twenty years, when he resigned and removed to New York city. He was intimate with President Madison, and the latter offered him the postmaster-generalship, but Patton refused the appointment on the ground that he was unwilling to remove his family from a free to a slave community. One of his chief characteristics was his strict integrity. When he was made postmaster he refused to appoint any of his sons to a clerkship, and on his resignation he strictly enjoined them not to apply to be his successor, saying that the office had been long enough in his family, and should now go to another. When war was declared in 1812, and a government loan, which every one prophesied would prove a failure, was placed on the market, he went at an early hour on the first day and subscribed $60,000, asserting that, if his country should be ruined, his property would then be valueless.--His son, Robert Bridges, educator, born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 25 September, 1794; died in New York city, 6 May, 1839, was graduated at Yale in 1817, and received the degree of A.B. from Middlebury in 1818, and that of Ph.D. from the University of Gottingen, Germany, in 1821. He was professor of Greek and Latin at Middle-bury college until 1825, and then accepted the same chair at Princeton, but resigned in 1829, to become principal of the Edgehill seminary at Princeton, New Jersey In 1834-'8 he was professor of Greek in the University of the city of New York, and he took high rank as a Greek scholar. He translated Thiersch's "Greek Verbs" from the German (New York, 1830), and revised and edited Donegan's Greek lexicon.--

Edited Appletons Encyclopedia, Copyright 2001 VirtualologyTM


Bill Roberts '39
April 26th, 1868 — I started for Lewisburg to attend college and commenced with the spring term.


These words were an entry in the diary of a 33-year-old Civil War veteran whose dream was being fulfilled. The childhood desire of the Rev. William R. Patton, Class of 1871, was to attend the Baptist university in Lewisburg, Pa., to earn a degree in the classical course and then to become a minister.

Patton was born in Old Frame, Fayette County, Pa., on Sept. 8, 1835. He and his twin sister were the youngest of six children of David W. and Jane Patton. His grandfather, the Rev. John Patton, served the Mt. Moriah Church in Smithfield, Pa., from 1805 until 1835 and had previously been pastor of the Baptist church in Shamokin, Pa.

Will, as he was known, spent his early years on the farm, where he developed his love for the land. When he was 10, his father opened a drug store in Smithfield, the town located near Old Frame. Working in the store during his early years gave Patton a sound education in business dealings.

His desire for a classical education probably began as noted in this diary entry:

Saturday, January 5th, 1850 — Cool in the morning but better in the day. Pappa went to Uniontown, got some cigars and cheese for the drug store. Got a Latin Grammer for me, he went in the sleigh.

At the age of 18, Patton moved to Morgantown, Pa., and began serving an apprenticeship in the printing business. He assisted in publishing two local newspapers, The Messenger and The Mirror. This training would be the foundation for the innumerable articles he would write and publish in later years.

On Aug. 19, 1858, he received his first Teachers Provisional Certificate for Fayette County and, nearly nine years later, received his Teachers Permanent Certificate from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

A Union Soldier The War Between the States lasted much longer than most folks had expected, and Patton volunteered and was mustered in on Sept. 16, 1864. He became a drum major in the 9th Army Corps, 3rd Division, 2nd Brigade, 211th Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteers and served until June 5, 1865.

On March 25,1865, he fought in the Battle of Fort Stendman, which was the last major effort by General Lee to break through Union lines and capture General Grant's headquarters at City Point, Va.

Saturday, March 25th, 1865 — Today I witnessed scenes of blood. Before day we could hear heavy firing down opposite Petersburg. We marched from here about 7 o'clock a.m. Our Regt. charged the Johnies and drove them out of our fort, which they had taken. I found our color guard killed. Assisted to dress the wounded of our men and the Johnies. In afternoon the officers met under a flag of truce and arranged to bury the dead. We carried nearly a hundred of their dead beyond the picket line. We took a great many prisoners. A shell came very near striking me and bullets whistled very unpleasantly.

All through his service, while stationed in Virginia at the fall of Petersburg and Richmond and until the surrender at Appomatox, Patton's diaries often mention the devastation left in the wake of battles. The effect of those experiences is quite evident throughout the many articles he wrote in later years.

April 26th, 1868 — I started for Lewisburg to attend college and commenced with the spring term. Recited Latin and Greek grammers and also read Anabasis and Virgil with Mr. Emerick H. Painter of the Academy. Also recited Rhetoric to Prof. L. E. Smith with the freshman class in college.

The academy, which later was named Taylor Hall, played a great part in Patton's college life. In 1847, the third floor was established as the Lewisburg High School, but in 1848, it was changed to the Academic Department of the University at Lewisburg. With his experience and certifications, he was able to accept a teaching position. He noted in 1868 that he had 32 scholars and that his assistant was Normal Ball. He also noted that there were 17 living in the academy and that they had a large study room and a pleasant sleeping room. He continued rooming at the academy until he graduated.

Becoming a Minister Patton's desire to become a Baptist minister was no doubt fueled by the fact that he grew up during what many refer to as the Second Great Awakening of Christianity. Even though he had just begun his college studies, he was ordained in his home church in Smithfield, Pa., on Oct. 18, 1868, and he preached his first sermon in the Baptist church in Shamokin, Pa.

In May 1870, he was selected, along with John Humpstone, George Whitman and B.F. Robb, to publish The College Herald, which was the first publication produced by students and could be considered a forerunner of The Bucknellian.

As Patton was ending his stay at Bucknell, he made this entry:
June 6th, 1871 — Completed studies in the college course. Examinations in Tacitus at nine o'clock a.m. by Prof. Bliss and at two o'clock p.m. in Butler's Analogy by Dr. Loomis. The two senior classes spent the evening at Dr. Loomis's.

On June 27, 1871, Patton graduated from the University at Lewisburg in the classical course. He and five others received the honor of first class oration. Up to this time, he had preached 99 sermons in and around Smithfield and Lewisburg.


His final dream came true when he began his studies at Crozer Theological Seminary on Nov. 4, 1871. While at Crozer, he became the minister of the Village Green church and also served as assistant librarian of the seminary.

On Wednesday, May 13, 1874, according to the "Order of Exercises," Patton spoke on "The Element of Time in the Accomplishments of God's Purposes." The Certificate of the Full Course was then conferred upon him, along with six other graduates. After graduation, he served regularly in churches in and around his hometown of Smithfield.

While at Crozer, he had occasionally preached at the Baptist church in Media, Pa., where he became acquainted with Mattie J. Carey, whom he married on Sept. 20, 1876. In 1881, he accepted a call to serve the Media Baptist Church, where he remained until his death.

During his later years, he visited the old battlefields and was received in both the General Robert E. Lee Camp and the Pickett Camp of Confederate Veterans. They honored him with a badge of united color, blue and gray, as well as a cane cut from a tree on the battlefield where he had stood as their enemy. In this period of his life, he also was a prolific writer known as "The Rambler" and had many articles published in Philadelphia area newspapers,

Patton's untimely death came on June 5, 1899, as a result of a fall while boarding a trolley for a trip to Philadelphia. He left his impact on all walks of life. He was a dedicated man of strong convictions, one who fought for his country and, through his writing, travels and ministry, did his best to heal the wounds of his beloved country.

Bill Roberts '39 is a retired businessman and the author of Guns and Drums Around Petersburg, which includes the Rev. William Patton's wartime diary and articles. Bill's wife, Martha Jane Patton Roberts '41, followed in her grandfather's footsteps as a student at Bucknell 69 years later.

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 Date: 25 Oct 2005
Time: 23:49:36


What's the connection between the Rev. William W. Patton (1798-1889) and the Rev. William R. Patton (1835-1899)? Are they kin? If so, what is the relationship? Thanks! If you know the answer please e-mail to

Date: 17 Jan 2006
Time: 23:47:23



It is my assertion that William Patton, b. 1798 to Robert Patton and Cornelia Bridges Patton is incorrectly labeled in your article as William W. Patton. The "W" is misapplied, as it stands for "Weston" which is the middle name of his son, born in 1821. Both were Reverends, so the confusion is understandable.

Date: 13 Apr 2009
Time: 03:25:03

Your Comments:

There are three Pattons described in this article. William ? Patton, Robert ? Patton and William Richard Patton. I know nothing of the first two. The third Patton (William Richard Patton) is my great grandfather. The only other William ? Patton in our family preceeded my great grandfather by four generations and died in 1715. I also know with absolute certainty that the picture above of William Patton is that of my great grandfather William Richard Patton and not of either of the other two Pattons mentioned in this article. I know this because we have the original picture in the family heirlooms and I have personally seen his picture, still hanging, in his church, The First Baptist Church of Media Pennsylvanis. Submitted by William Henry Roberts Jr.

Date: 27 Jun 2013
Time: 16:36:54

Your Comments:

Re the image, I agree that it is not of William Weston Patton, who is my great grandfather. We have a portrait of him in our collection and it is not of the Patton above. It can be seen in various places online via a search for "portrait of william weston patton."

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