Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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BURNS, Alexander, Canadian educator, born in Castlewellan, county Down, Ireland, 12 August, 1834. He immigrated to Canada in 1847 with his parents, who, after residing for three years in Quebec, removed to Toronto. He had been reared a Presbyterian, but became a convert to Methodism, and entered Victoria College with the intention of ultimately becoming a minister of that denomination. He was graduated there with honors in 1861, and, after remaining in the College for a year as a classical teacher, passed the next three years in preaching. In 1865 he accepted the chair of mathematics in Iowa Wesleyan University at Mount Pleasant, and in 1868 became president of Simpson centenary College, which he retained until 1878, when he accepted the presidency of the Wesleyan ladies' College, Hamilton, Ontario. In 1870 the University of Indiana conferred on him the degree of S. T. D., and in 1878 his alma mater gave him the degree of LL. D. In 1882 Dr. Burns was tried before the London, Ontario, conference for holding views contrary to the tenets of the Methodist church, the charge being based upon statements contained in a letter of sympathy which he had written to the Rev. Dr. Thomas, of Chicago. The trial resulted in his acquittal.
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