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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FREEMAN, James, clergyman, born in Charlestown, Massachusetts, 22 April 1759; died in Newton, Massachusetts, 14 November 1835. He received his first education in the public Latin school of Boston, and was graduated at Harvard in 1777, after which he visited Cape Cod and drilled a company a, bout to join the colonial troops. In 1780 he went to Quebec, where he was captured and detained till 1782, when he went to Boston and became lay reader of King's chapel. This was originally an Episcopal Church, founded in 1686. He became a Unitarian in his views, mid induced the Episcopal society of this Church to alter its liturgy in 1785, and, as the bishop refused to ordain him, he was consecrated with a peculiar service by his own wardens and people, 18 November 1787. He was the first minister in the United States to avow the name of Unitarian, and through his means the first Episcopal Church in New England became the first Unitarian Church in this country. He continued sole minister of King's chapel until 1809, when the Rev. Samuel Cary was given him as a colleague.
After the death of Mr. Cary in 1815 Dr. Freeman served alone till 1824, when Rev. Francis W. P. Greenwood was associated with him. In 1826 Dr. Freeman gave up his duties to his colleague, owing to failing health, and retired to a country residence near Boston, where he spent the rest. of his life. Dr. Freeman printed no controversial sermons, and seldom preached them. He was thoroughly liberal and intimate with the best men of all denominations, though he disliked what he called "the cant of liberality." He was a member of the first school committee of Boston, chosen in 1792, the schools previous to this time having been managed by the selectmen of the town. He was a member of the Academy of arts and sciences, and one of the founders of the Massachusetts historical society, to which he rendered valuable service. He received the degree of D. D. from Harvard in 1811. He was an accomplished scholar, and his style was a model of pure English. Besides many contributions to periodical literature, he published a "Description of Boston" (" Boston Magazine," 1784); a "Sermon on the Death of Rev. John Eliot, D. D." (1813); and a volume of "Sermons and Charges" (1832), which were criticized by Robert Southey in a letter to the Lord Bishop of Limerick, 6 March 1833.
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