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Francis Lister Hawks

HAWKS, Francis Lister, clergyman, born in New Berne, North Carolina, 10 June, 1798; died in New York city, 26 September, 1866. His early training was received chiefly from his mother, and, as he was naturally of an impetuous spirit, this discipline was all-important. He was graduated at the University of North Carolina in 1815, with the highest honors of his class. He then entered upon the study of law, under Judge Gaston, in New Berne, was admitted to the bar, and practised his profession with great success in his native town and in Hillsboro, Orange co. He was appointed reporter of the supreme court of the state, and also elected to the legislature. At this early period he manifested rare oratorical powers and frequently drew crowds to hear him. But, although meeting with entire success in the practice of law, his heart was not really in the work. He resolved to become a candidate for orders in the Episcopal church, studied theology under the Reverend William Mercer Green (afterward bishop), completed his course in New Berne, and was ordered deacon in 1827, by Bishop Ravenseroft, and ordained priest by the same bishop. About 1823 Mr. Hawks married Miss Kirby, of New Haven, Connecticut, who died four years afterward, leaving two children. This domestic relation and its results brought about an intimacy with the Reverend Dr. Harry Croswell, rector of Trinity church, New Haven, and, at the latter's solicitation, Mr. Hawks became Dr. Croswell's assistant, 25 April, 1829. He soon grew popular as a preacher, and exercised a wide influence for good. His stay in New Haven, however, was short, and in the summer of the same year he accepted an assistant minister-ship in St. James's, Philadelphia, of which Bishop White was rector. The next year he was elected professor of divinity in Washington (now Trinity) college, Hartford, Connecticut, and in March, 1831, became rector of St. Stephen's church, New York city. In December of the same year he was elected rector of St. Thomas's, New York. In this office he remained until 1843, and was soon the most eloquent pulpit orator in the Episcopal church. The house of bishops, at the general convention of 1835, nominated Dr. Hawks missionary bishop in Louisiana, and in the territories of Arkansas and Florida. The nomination was concurred in by the house of deputies, but Dr. Hawks declined the appointment. At the same convention he was appointed historiographer of the church and conservator of documents. He spent several months in England in 1836, and, from the libraries and public records there, obtained no less than eighteen large folio volumes of manuscripts relating to the Church of England in America. He entered at once upon his work as historiographer and prepared in due season two volumes. These having been severely criticised, Dr. Hawks was so vexed that he resolved to abandon the work. Although abundant materials were at hand for church history in New York and other states, the historiographer published nothing further. In 1837, in conjunction with Reverend Dr. Caleb S. Henry, he founded the "New York Review," a quarterly, and contributed freely to its pages. The" Review" did good service during its six years of existence. In 1839 he established St. Thomas's hall, a school for boys, at Flushing, L.I. For a time it was successful; but financial embarrassments came upon it, and Dr. Hawks, through its failure, became involved in debt. This was in 1843, and led to his resigning the rectorship of St. Thomas's, and removing to Holly Springs, Mississippi, where one of his daughters resided. He was elected bishop by the convention of that diocese, but at the general convention of 1844 opposition was made to his confirmation on the ground of pecuniary troubles connected with his unfortunate enterprise. Dr. Hawks made his most eloquent address in vindication of his conduct, fully clearing himself in relation to charges of dishonorabie transactions. The house voted to this effect, and referred the whole question back to the diocese of Mississippi. Although the diocese unanimously expressed its entire confidence in Dr. Hawks, he nevertheless deemed it best to decline the bishopric. In 1844 he went to New Orleans as rector of Christ church in that city, which office he occupied five years. While there the University of Louisiana was founded, and he was elected its first president. He was again urged to return to New York, which he did in 1849, becoming rector of Calvary church in that city. Wealthy friends relieved him of all outstanding obligations in connection with St. Thomas's hall (to the amount of 830,000), and his position became one of increased usefulness. In 1852 he was elected bishop of Rhode Island, but declined. In 1859 he was invited to occupy the chair of history in the University of North Carolina, but declined that also. He received the degrees of D. D. and LL. D. from the same institution at the beginning of the civil war. Dr. Hawks, whose sympathies naturally were with the south, resigned his rectorship of Calvary and removed, in 1862, to Baltimore, where he became rector of Christ church In 1865, however, he returned to New York, where a new congregation was gathered and a building begun in 25th street for the chapel of the Holy Saviour. The corner stone was laid 4 September, 1866, and this was Dr. Hawks's last public act. His health being completely broken, he sank rapidly into the grave. He was a great as well as good man, a faithful minister, an orator of high rank, and a deserving author. His chief publications were "Reports of Cases adjudged in the Supreme Court of North Carolina" (4 vols., Raleigh, 1823-'8); "Contributions to the Ecclesiastical History of the United States of America"--vol. i., "On the Early Church in Virginia" (New York, 1836); vol. ii., "On the Church in Maryland" (1839); "Commentary on the Constitution and Canons of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States" (1841); "Auricular Confession in the Protestant Episcopal Church" (1850); and "History of North Carolina" (vol. i., 1857). Dr. Hawks also translated Rivero and Tschudi's "Antiquities of Peru" (1854), and edited several valuable historical works, among them the "State Papers of General Alexander Hamilton" (1842); Perry's "Expedition to the China Seas and Japan" (1852-'4); Appletons' "Cyclopaedia of Biography" (1856); and the "Romance of Biography" (12 vols.). In conjunction with Reverend William S. (now Bishop) Perry, he brought out volumes i. and ii. of the "Documentary History of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States" (1863-'4). See a memorial volume, with a sketch of his life, by Reverend N. L. Richardson (1868).--His brother, Cicero Stephens, P. E. bishop, born in New Berne, North Carolina, 26 May, 1812; died in St. Louis, Missouri, 19 April, 1868, was graduated at the University of North Carolina in 1830. He studied law, but abandoned it for theology, which he studied under Bishop Freeman, and was ordered deacon, 8 December, 1834, and ordained priest, 24 July, 1836, by Bishop B. T. Onderdonk. While in deacon's orders he was in charge of the church in Ulster. and, on being made priest, became rector of Trinity, Saugerties, New York In 1837 he accepted the rectorship of Trinity church, Buffalo, New York, where he remained for six years. In 1843 he removed to Missouri and became rector of Christ church, St. Louis. He was appointed bishop of Missouri by the house of bishops, with the concurrence of the house of deputies, in 1844, and was consecrated, 20 October, 1844. During the cholera epidemic of 1849 in St. Louis he was untiring in his ministrations to the suffering. In recognition of his services at this time he was given a purse of $3,000 by Christ church, and a residence in Paul street by the citizens of St. Louis. He contributed to various journals, edited the "Boys' and Girls' Library," and the "Library for my Young Countrymen," and published "Friday Christian; or the First Born of Pitcairn Island."

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