Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton
and Company, 1887-1889 and 1999. Virtualology.com warns that these 19th Century
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CHURCH, Benjamin, political writer and orator. He rose to eminence as a physician in Boston, and became a friend of Samuel Adams. In 1768-'9 he wrote for the "Times," a newspaper devoted to the Whig cause and denounced as seditious by Governor Bernard. Dr. Church was held in high esteem by the patriot leaders, but was secretly a waverer. From a letter of Governor Hutchinson, dated 29 January, 1772, we learn that Church was then anonymously employing his venal pen in the service of the government. This was not suspected by the patriots, and Church was chosen to deliver the oration in the Old South meeting-house on 5 March, 1773. He was one of the leaders in the Boston tea-party. At the beginning of war he was appointed by the provincial congress surgeon-general and director of hospitals. In November, 1775, some cipher letters of his were intercepted and interpreted by Elbridge Gerry, and it was found that he had been for some time in treasonable correspondence with the enemy. He was examined before the Massachusetts legislature, found guilty of treason, and sentenced to imprisonment for life. As he fell sick in prison his sentence was mitigated, and he was allowed to leave the country. He embarked for the West Indies, and the ship in which he sailed was never heard from again.
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