Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton
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BANCROFT, Aaron, clergyman, born in Reading, Massachusetts, 10 November 1755 ; died in Worcester, Massachusetts, 19 August 1839. While pursuing his studies during the revolutionary struggle he frequently served as a minuteman, and was present, at both Lexington and Bunker Hill. In 1778 he was graduated at Harvard College. He taught school, studied theology, was licensed to preach, and spent three years as a missionary at Yarmouth, Nova Scotia. In 1785 he was settled in Worcester as pastor of the Congregational Church, and remained in the same post until his death. He was prominent in Church councils and conventions. In middle life his theological views underwent a change in the direction of Arminianism. By his effective advocacy of liberal tenets he was a conspicuous leader in the early period of the Unitarian schism. He published sermons in defense of religious liberty; a eulogy of Washington (1800); a "Life of Washington" (1807, reprinted in England in 1808); and a volume of sermons directed against the doctrine of election (1822). Although he was president of the American Unitarian association, he adhered to the name and the system of Congregationalism to the close of his life.
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