Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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HOBART, John Henry, P. E. bishop, born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 14 September, 1775; died in Auburn, New York, 12 September, 1830. in direct descent, he stood fifth in the line from the founder of the family at Hingham, Massachusetts The intervening generations present a succession of names of repute in the colonial history of New England, including many Puritan ministers. His grandfather was the first of the family to leave New England and unite with the Episcopal church. By the death of his father he was left, when but a year old, to the sole charge of a mother, to whose training the rich fruit of his after-life must in no small degree be referred. His school-days were spent in Philadelphia, and he was ready in his sixteenth year for the junior class at Princeton, where he was entered in 1791. The two years that followed made so deep an impression that, after an interval spent in the uncongenial air of a counting-house, he accepted a tutorship in the college in 1795, which he held until admitted to holy orders in June, 1798. The permanent traits of his mind and character developed during these early years with marked distinctness. From 1798 till 1811 was the period of his ministerial activity in the diaconate and priesthood. In the humbler office he served in several parishes; but, when ordained priest in 1800, he had just been appointed one of the assistant clergy of Trinity church, New York, to the rectorship of which he was afterward elected. About this time he married a daughter of the Reverend Thomas Bradbury Chandler (q. v.). The duties of a large city parish were discharged by Dr. Hobart with marked success and great increase of popularity. In preaching he had a clear and pointed style, an earnest and animated manner, and a strong, melodious voice. In 1804 he published a " Companion for the Altar," largely original, and also a volume on "Festivals and Fasts," on the basis of an English work so styled; in 1805, a " Companion to the Book of Common Prayer," and a " Clergyman's Companion"; in 1806, a collection of controversial essays; and in 1807 his "Apology for Apostolic Or-def." These works were designed to instruct churchmen in the elements of their own ecclesiastical institutions and usages. Although a name for aggressive churchmanship became attached to Dr. Hobart, he never addressed his instructions or appeals to any except those to whom he had an official right to speak. Among them primarily, these productions were widely and rapidly circulated, the "Festivals and Fasts" reaching its 27th edition. They are regarded as having contributed in a marked degree to the vigorous and rapid growth of the Episcopal church during the first half of this century, and to the prevalence of that type of churchmanship which they attractively presented. The "Apology " was a somewhat larger and more critical work, and on its re-publication in England first attracted attention to its author there. The natural result of ability displayed in so many and various forms was that, when, in 1811, the failing health of Bishop Moore called for the election of an assistant bishop, the foremost name among the clergy was that of Dr. Hobart, and the choice fell upon him with substantial unanimity. He had previously filled many important posts in connection with the diocesan and general conventions. The episcopate thus begun lasted for nineteen years. At this period of her history, the condition of the church that committed to him this great trust seemed to call for precisely the man he was. From her connection with the Church of England, she was politically an object of suspicion, which was but slowly dying away. She was regarded with strong prejudice and dislike by many whose sympathies were Puritanic. To the American people at large she was personally a stranger in garb and manners. What were her principles, why she existed in this country at all, why she was so ready to enter places that others had occupied before her, were questions to be answered promptly and effectively. To say that Bishop Hobart lived and labored to give the answer fairly indicates the sum of his history in the latter half of his life. He was the most, outspoken of men; he had no concealments or reserves. Whatever was distinctive, theological, or ecclesiastical in the system he upheld, he set forth with the utmost plainness and in every feature, never hesitating or showing any nervousness as to the possible result. The opportunity, if not the provocation, to controversy thus afforded was ample, and full use was made of it by his opponents, so that pamphlets on both sides flew over the field of dispute like leaves in autumn--except his were never dry but only somewhat crisp. His readiness in such productions was remarkable, and greatly enhanced his reputation. But the cause he had at heart did not suffer by this vehement frankness; and personally he gained friends even among those who opposed him. No stronger commendation could he have desired than the words of his most eminent and formidable adversary, the Reverend Dr. John Mason: "Were I compelled to entrust the safety of my country to any one man, that man should be John Henry Hobart." By the side of this generous eulogium maybe placed the opinion of the distinguished jurist, Brockholst Livingston: "Nature fitted him for a leader .... Had he studied law he would have been upon the bench: in the army, a major-general at, least; in the state, nothing under prime-minister." During these years of varied and engrossing labor, his pen continued active. He produced "The Christian's Manual" (New York, 1814), and an "Essay on the State of the Departed" (New York, 1814); and in 1818 undertook the re-publication of D'Oyley and Mant's family Bible, which largely occupied him for five years (2 vols., 1818-'20). He was also active in founding the General theological seminary in New York city, and in 1821 was chosen professor of pastoral theology. His health, which had been somewhat shaken in his boyhood by his persistent application to study, broke down under all this labor, and a long period of cessation from it and absence from its scene were deemed necessary. The years 1824-'5 were spent in Europe. While in England, he published two volumes of sermons on "Redemption," to meet the charge industriously urged that in his ministrations he " neglected the essentials for the externals of religion." As they were simply specimens of his ordinary parochial instructions, the accusation was amply refuted. On his return in October, 1825, his first sermon was a comparison of the institutions of the two countries. The key to its spirit was in the words " I love and revere England and its church; but I love my own church and country better." For a time, the feelings toward him of some of his English friends were chilled, but his hold upon his own countrymen was greatly strengthened. He took up the work of his office with renewed vigor and zeal. The diocese and state were then conterminous, and, though the parishes were much fewer than at the present day, the facilities for travel were so much less that the 3,000 miles of his visitation in 1826 represent an amount of exposure and fatigue not equalled by four times that distance by rail and steamer. So it continued for four years more. Educational institutions, benevolent and religious societies that had risen under his own eye, required constant attention. The care of a rapidly enlarging diocese made ever increasing demands, till the apparently vigorous frame suddenly gave way; the active brain could order the pressing throng of public and official thoughts and cares no more; and the warm, loving heart, which had never failed toward family and friends and the people of his charge, ceased from earthly emotion. His disorder, which was almost of life-long experience, had been kept in check by the use of stimulants. On this last visitation of his diocese he ceased to take the usual precaution, and virtually yielded up his life that he might "give no offence to the brethren," and to those who, to use his own words, on setting out on his journey, "flung the habit of the bishop in the teeth of the church." His remains, with those of his wife, rest beneath the chancel of Trinity church, New York, in a plain massive vault, constructed for the purpose. See his "Early Life and Professional Years," by Professor McVickar of Columbia (New York, 1834; republished in England, with an introduction by Reverend W. Hook.--His youngest son, John Henry, clergyman, born in New York city, 1 October, 1817, was graduated at Columbia in 1836, and in June, 1841, was ordained in the Protestant Episcopal church. He was engaged in mission work, and held various pastorates in 1841-'8, and was then assistant-minister of Trinity church, New York city, till 1863. In 1872 he accompanied Bishop Whittingham of Maryland, as his chaplain, to the Old Catholic congress in Cologne, Germany. For many years he has been rector of Trinity church, Fishkill, N. y Columbia gave him the degree of D. D. in 1856. Dr. Hobart is now (1887) the sole survivor of his father's seven children. He has published "Instruction and Encouragement for Lent "(New York, 1859); "Mediaevalism" (1877); and "Church Reform in Mexico" (1877); and has also edited his father's "Festivals and Fasts" (27th ed., 1862), and "The Clergyman's Companion" (1863).
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