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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LELAND, John, clergyman, born in Grafton, Massachusetts, 14 May, 1754; died in North Adams, Massachusetts, 14 January, 1841. He was educated as a Congregationalist, but, adopting Baptist tenets, was licensed as a preacher in 1774, and in 1775 removed to Virginia, where until 1791, with the exception of occasional visits to the north, he was actively employed in discharging the duties of his office. He resided at first in Culpepper county, but on account of difficulties in his church removed to Orange county, and engaged in preaching tours throughout Virginia and the northern parts of North Carolina and as far northward as Philadelphia. He was not regularly ordained until June, 1787. When the Federal constitution was under discussion Elder Leland was put forward as the candidate of the party that was opposed to its adoption unless the views that were dominant in Virginia were incorporated, James Madison being the opposing candidate for delegate to the State convention from Orange county; yet after a conversation with the latter Leland withdrew in his favor. In February, 1792, he settled in Cheshire, Massachusetts where he resided for the most part until his death. He was a prolific writer, and during his fifteen years' ministry in Virginia preached more than 3,000 sermons, founded two large churches--one in Orange and one in Louisa county--and baptized 700 persons. He continued his itinerant ministry after returning to Massachusetts, and down to 1821 had baptized 1,352 converts. Toward the close of 1801 he went to Washington to present to Mr. Jefferson a mammoth cheese weighing 1,450 pounds, as a testimonial of the esteem and confidence of the people of Cheshire in the new chief magistrate. He was firmly attached to the Democratic party, and sometimes manifested his predilections in his pulpit discourses. His "Occasional Sermons and Addresses," with essays on moral, religious, and political subjects, an autobiography, written in 1819, and additional notices of his life by his granddaughter, Miss L. F. Greene, appeared in 1845.
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