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MANNING, James, educator, born in Elizabeth, New Jersey, 22 October, 1738-d. in Providence, Rhode Island, 29 July, 1791. He was the son of James and Grace Fitz Randolph Manning, who were constituent members of the Scotch Plains Baptist church. He was graduated at Princeton in 1762, with the second honors of his class On 19 April, 1763, he was publicly ordained to the ministry. Having been chosen by the Philadelphia association a leader in the enterprise of establishing in Rhode Island a Baptist college "in which," to use the words of the historian, Isaac Backus, " education might be promoted and superior learning obtained, free from any sectarian tests," he at once set out on his mission. In the month of July, 1763, he arrived at Newport and submitted his plans to the deputy governor and other gentlemen of like views. The result was an application to the general assembly the month following for a charter, which was finally granted in February, 1764. Immediately after this Manning removed with his wife to the town of Warren and established a Latinschool, preaching statedly on the Sabbath. On 15 November a Baptist church was organized, over which he was installed as pastor. This relation he sustained six years. In 1765, having been appointed president of the college by a formal vote of the corporation, he began the work of instruction with a single pupil, William Rogers, who was afterward a distinguished educator and divine. In 1767 the Warren association, which owes its origin to Manning and which is the mother of all similar associations in New England, held its first meeting with the Warren church. The first commencement of the college was held in the meeting-house on 7 September, 1769, and drew together a large concourse of people from all parts of the colony. In the spring of 1770 the college was removed to Providence, which was the occasion for Manning to sever his relations with the church which he had been instrumental in founding. The year following he accepted the invitation of the 1st Baptist church in Providence to become their pastor, and this relation he sustained for twenty years, discharging meanwhile, with signal ability and zeal, his duties as the president of the college and as an instructor of youth In 1774 a remarkable revival of religion attended his preaching, which resulted in the erection of the present meeting-house. It was dedicated in May, 1775. From 7 December, 1776, until 27 May, 1782, "the seat of Muses became the habitation of Mars."
College studies were suspended, and the edifice, now called University hall, was occupied by the soldiers for barracks and a hospital. In 1785 Manning received from the University of Pennsylvania the degree of D.D. In 1786 he represented Rhode Island in the congress of the Confederation In this new relation he acquitted himself with honor, having the pen of a ready writer, and being thoroughly familiar with the discussions and controversies of the day. He was an active Federalist, and it was largely through his influence that Rhode Island eventually accepted the constitution and came into the Union. He was a promoter of public education, and chairman of the school committee of the town. One of the last acts of his life was to draw up a report in favor of free schools, which forms the basis of the present school system of Providence. On Sunday morning, 24 July, 1791, while officiating at family prayers he was seized with a fit of apoplexy, from which he never recovered, he was a man of majestic stature, of graceful person, and engaging manners. As a scholar and a divine he had in his day few equals His reports, letters, and addresses, such as are preserved, have been published in "Life, Times, and Correspondence of , James Manning and the Early History of Brown University," by Reuben A. Guild (Boston, 1864).
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