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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FISK, James, jurist, born about 1762; died in Swanton, Vermont, 1 December 1844. He was self-educated, studied law, and rose to eminence in the profession. He was a member of the lower house of congress from 1805 till 1809, and served from 1811 till 1815. He was appointed by President Madison judge of the territory of Indiana in 1812, but declined the office after confirmation in 1815'16. He was one of the judges of the Supreme Court of Vermont, and in 1817 was chosen U. S. senator, but resigned after one year's service, and subsequently was collector of customs for eight years in the district of Vermont.
His son, Wilbur Fisk, educator, born in Brattleboro, Vermont, 31 August 1792; died in Middletown, Vermont, 22 February 1839, was graduated at Brown in 1815, and studied law, but, after a long and serious illness, abandoned the profession and entered the itinerant ministry in 1818, when he was licensed as a local preacher in the Methodist Episcopal Church. He took high rank as a pulpit orator, was pastor for two years in Craftsbury, Vermont, and in 1819 removed to Charlestown, Massachusetts. At the conference of 1820 he was admitted into full membership, ordained as a deacon in 1822, and from 1823 till 1827 was presiding elder of the Vermont district, which then comprised the whole of Vermont east of the Green mountains. He was placed upon the superannuated list, but was requested, in so far as health would allow, to act as agent for New market academy, at that time the only Methodist institution in New England. While here, he was chosen to make the address of welcome to Lafayette in 1824. He was also a delegate to the general 'conference in that year, and was chosen to write the address to the British conference. He was chaplain of the Vermont legislature in 1826, and was one of the founders and principal of the Wesleyan academy in Wilbraham, Massachusetts, 1826'81, and a delegate to the general conference of 1828, when he was elected bishop of the Canada conference, but declined. In 1829 he also refused the presidency of La Grange College, Alabama, and a professorship in the University of Alabama.
In 1830 he was chosen first president of the Wesleyan University, in whose organization he had materially aided. The duties of that office were entered upon in 1881; the institution under his direction became the most influential of any in the Methodist denomination in America. At the general conference of 1832 his appeals in behalf of Indian missions resulted in the organization of the Oregon mission, and he was at this time instrumental in founding Williamstown academy. For years he was useful to educational interests at large by recommending or furnishing professors and presidents to the rapidly multiplying Colleges of the far west. In search of health, he passed the winter of 1835'6 in Italy, and the summer of 1836 in England, when he also represented the M. E. Church of the Wesleyan conference as a delegate. He was elected bishop of that Church in 1886, but declined. In 1839 he became a member of the board of education of Connecticut. He was said to be unsurpassed in eloquence and fervor as a preacher, and was often compared to Fenelon, being endowed with like moral and mental traits. The degree of D. D. was conferred on him by Augusta College, Kentucky, in 1829, and by Brown in 1835. His published works are : "Inaugural Address" (New York, 1881); " Calvinistic Controversy " (1887); "Travels in Europe" (1888); "Sermons and Lectures on Universalism: Reply to Pierpont on the Atonement, and other Theological and Educational Works and Sermons." His account of his European travels had a wide circulation and was greatly admired. His " Life and Writings" were published by the Rev. Joseph Holdich, D. D. (New York, 1842).
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