Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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PRIME, Ebenezer, clergymen, born in Milford, Connecticut, 21 July, 1700; died in Huntington, L. I., 25 September, 1779. He was the grandson of James, who, with his brother, Mark Prime, came from England to escape religious persecution about 1638. Ebenezer was graduated at Yale in 1718, studied divinity, and the following year was called to Huntington, L. I., where he became an assistant to Reverend Eliphalet Jones. On 5 June, 1723, he was ordained pastor of the same church, which office he continued to hold until his death. A register of the sermons that he preached, with texts, dates, and places of delivery, shows that he prepared more than 3,000, many of which are still preserved. Although he was educated as a Congregationalist, in 1747 his own church and the others in the county of Suffolk formed themselves into a presbytery and adopted the Presbyterian form of government, Mr. Prime being chosen the first moderator. In the war of the Revolution Mr. Prime's church was turned into a military depot by the British, and the pulpit and pews were burnt for fuel. The parsonage was occupied by troops: the pastor's valuable library was used for lighting fires, and otherwise mutilated. Driven from home in his seventy-seventh year, an object of special hostility on account of his decided patriotic opinions, he retired to a quiet part of the parish and preached in private houses, or wherever he could gather his people together. Toward the close of the war Colonel Benjamin Thompson, afterward Count Rumford, was ordered to occupy the village. He tore down the church, and used the materials in building barracks and block-houses in the graveyard. Ascertaining where the venerable pastor lay buried, he directed that his own tent should be pitched at the head of the grave, that, as he expressed it, he might have the satisfaction of treading on the "d old rebel "every time he entered and left it. Mr. Prime is described by a contemporary as "aman of sterling character, of powerful intellect, who possessed the reputation of an able and faithful divine." His published discourses include "The Pastor at Large Vindicated" and "The Divine Institution of Preaching the Gospel Considered " (New York, 1758), and "The Importance of the Divine Presence with the Armies of God's People in their Martial Enterprises" (1759). He also published a sermon, delivered in 1754, on " Ordination to the Gospel Ministry," regarding which he held peculiar views.--His son, Benjamin Young, physician, born in Huntington, L. I., 20 December, 1733; died there, 31 October, 1791, was graduated at Princeton in 1751, studied medicine under Dr. Jacob Ogden, and began to practise at Easthampton, L.I. In 1756-'7 he was tutor at Princeton. His acquirements as a linguist were unusual. Among his papers were found, after his death, Latin versifications of one of the Psalms written in all the different metres of the odes of Horace. He was also master of several modern languages, which he spoke fluently. In June, 1762, he sailed for England to visit medical schools abroad, and he was graduated at the University of Leyden in July, 1764. After visiting Moscow he returned to New York city and resumed practice there. On the passage of the stamp-act he wrote "A Song for the Sons of Liberty in New York." At the opening of the Revolutionary war, Dr. Prime, who had meantime given up practice in New York and retired to Huntington, was compelled to flee to Connecticut, but at the end of the war he returned to Huntington, and remained there until his death. Besides his songs and ballads, which circulated widely during the war, Dr. Prime published " The Patriot Muse, or Poems on some of the Principal Events of the Late War, etc., by an American Gentleman, referring to the French War" (London, 1764), and "Columbia's Glory; or British Pride Humbled, a Poem on the American Revolution" (New York, 1791). In addition to these, there was published in New York city, in 1840, "Nuseipula: Sire Cambromvomachia. The Mouse-Trap ; or, the Battle of the Welsh and the Nice: in Latin and English. With Other Poems in different Languages. By an American." The principal Latin poem in this volume is probably not by Dr. Prime, but the translation of the "Nuscipula " is undoubtedly his work.--Benjamin Young's son, Nathaniel Sendder, clergyman, born in Huntington, L. I., 21 April, 1785; died in Mamaroneck, New York, 27 March, 1856, was graduated at Princeton in 1804, licensed to preach by the presbytery of Long Island, 10 October, 1805, and ordained in 1809. After preaching at Sag Harbor, Fresh Pond, and Smithtown, L. I., he was called, in 1813, to the Presbyterian church at Cambridge, Washington County, New York, where he remained for seventeen years. For several years after 1821 he was also principal of the county academy. In 1831 he established a seminary for young women in Sing Sing, under the charge of his daughter, and on its being destroyed by fire in 1835, he removed it to Newburg, New York, where he remained eight years. On retiring at the end of that period, he did not again accept a pastoral charge. Dr. Prime was an earnest advocate of all moral reforms, and is believed to have preached in 1811 one of the first temperance sermons that was ever delivered. He was an enthusiastic electrician, and was instrumental in introducing Professor Joseph Henry to public notice. He received the degree of D. D. from Princeton in 1848. Besides "A Collection of Hymns " (Sag Harbor. 1809), "A Familiar Illustration of Christian Baptism "(Salem, 1818), and" A History of Long Island" (New York, 1845), Dr. Prime published sermons entitled "The Pernicious Effects of Intemperance" (Brooklyn, 1812);" Divine Truth the Established Means of Sanctification " (Salem, 1817); and " The Year of Jubilee, but not to Africans" (1825).--Another son, Samuel Irenaeus, editor, born in Ballston, New York, 4 November, 1812; died in Manchester, Vermont, 18 July, 1885, was graduated at Williams in 1829, taught three years at Cambridge and Sing Sing, New York, and entered Princeton theological seminary, but before completing his first year he was attacked by a severe illness, and was never able to resume his studies. He was licensed to preach in 1833, and held pastorates at Ballston Spa in 1833-'5, and at Natteawan, New York, in 1837--'40 In the spring of the latter year he was compelled to abandon the pulpit, owing to a bronchial affection, from which he never entirely recovered. Thereafter, till his death, he was editor of the "New York Observer," except during 1849, when he acted as secretary of the American Bible society, and a few months in 1850, when he edited " The Presbyterian." In 1853 he visited Europe, Palestine, and Egypt, for his health, writing a series of letters to the " Observer" under the signature of " Irenaeus." He went abroad again in 1866-'7 and in 1876-'7. Dr. Prime was closely identified with the Evangelical alliance of America, founded in 1866, attending the 5th general conference at Amsterdam in 1867, and inviting the European alliances to hold the 6th conference in New York city, which invitation was accepted. On his return from Europe he was elected a corresponding secretary of the American alliance, and he held the office until 28 January, 1884. In his hands the "Observer" acquired a wide reputation. His "Irenaeus" articles appeared in it weekly until the end of his life. He received the degree of D. D. from Hampden Sidney college, Virginia, in 1854. During his career as an editor he found time to write more than forty volumes, besides pamphlets, addresses, and articles for various periodicals. In 1854, while his first book of travels was passing through the press, he was asked by its publishers, Harper Brothers, to contribute to their magazine. From this source he received for the next twelve years more than $1,000 annually, and he was thus enabled to purchase an interest in the "Observer" in 1858. Dr. Prime was vice-president and director of the American tract society and of the American and foreign Christian union, president of the New York association for the advancement of science and art, president, and trustee of Wells college for women, a trustee of Williams college, and member of a large number of other religious, benevolent, and literary societies. Among his publications are "The Old White Meeting House" and "Life in New York" (New York, 1845): "Annals of the English Bible" (1849); "Thoughts on the Death of Little Children" (1852) ; "Travels in Europe and the East" (1855); "The Power of Prayer" (1858); " The Bible in the Levant "and "American Wit and Humor " (1859) ; "Letters from Switzerland" (1860) ; "Memoirs of Reverend Nicholas Murray, D. D. " "Kirwan " (1862) ; " Memoirs of Mrs. Joanna Bethune" (1863)"Fifteen Years of Prayer " and "Walking with God " (1872) ; "The Alhambra and the Kremlin " (1873) ; "Songs of the Soul" (1874)" "Life of S. P. B. Morse, LL. D." (1875)" " lrenaeus Letters" (1st series, 1880" 2d series, 1885)" and "Prayer and its Answer" (1882). Of the "Power of Prayer " more than 175,000 were sold--100,000 in this country and Great Britain, while two editions appeared in France, and one in tile Tamil language in India. Another son, Edward Dorr Gritlh, clergyman, born in Cambridge, New York, 2 November, 1814, was graduated at Union in 1832, and at Princeton theological seminary in 1838, and was pastor of Presbyterian churches at Scotchtown, New York, and New York city. In April, 1853, to allow his brother, Irenaeus, to go abroad for his health, he took his place as editor of the " Observer," with which he had corresponded for several years under the signature of "Eusebius." He continued his connection with that journal until his brother's death in 1885, acting as associate editor, but spent the winter of 1854-'5 in Rome as chaplain of the American embassy. On the death of his brother, he became editor of the "Observer," but he was compelled by illness to resign in 1886. Dr. Prime received the degree of D.D. from Jefferson college, Pennsylvania, in 1857. Besides contributing anonymously to several volumes, he has published "Around the World" Travel Through Many Lands and Over Many Seas" (New York, 1872);" Forty Years in the Turkish Empire, or Memoirs of Reverend William Goodell, D. D." (1876) ; and "Notes, Genealogical, Biographical, and Bibliographical, of the Prime Family" (printed privately, New York, 1888).--Another son, William Cowper, journalist, born in Cambridge, New York, 31 October, 1825, was graduated at Princeton in 1843, studied law, and was admitted to the bar in 1846. He continued to practise in the city of New York until 11861, when. he became an owner and manager of the New York " Journal of Commerce," with which he is still connected. He acted as its editor-in-chief from 1861 till 1869. Mr. Prime visited Egypt and the Holy Land in 1855-'6, and again in 1869-'70. In his leisure hours he has devoted himself to the study of the art of book illustration, and has made a valuable collection of the woodcuts of artists of the 15th and 16th centuries. From its establishment he has taken an active interest in the New York metropolitan museum of art, and since 1874 he has been its first vice-president. He also induced the trustees of Princeton to establish a systematic course of instruction in art history, and in 1884 he was chosen as the occupant of that chair. The college had previously, in 1875, conferred upon him the degree of LB. D. Besides a series of letters in the" Journal" begun in 1846 and continued to the .present time, more than forty years, Dr. Prime has published " The Owl-Creek Letters" (New York, 1848) . " The Old House by the River" (1853); "Later Years " (1854)" " Boat Life in Egypt and Nubia" and "Tent Life in the Holy Land" (1857) ; "Coins, Medals, and Seals, Ancient and Modern" (1861) . the hymn "O Mother, Dear. Jerusalem," with notes (1865) ; "I go A-Fishing" (1873)" "Holy Cross" (1877); and "Pottery and Porcelain of All Times and Nations" (1878). As literary executor of General George B. McClellan, he edited "McClellan's Own Story" (1886), and wrote a biographical sketch for that volume.
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