Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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MAFFITT, John Newland, clergyman, born in Dublin, Ireland, 28 December, 1795 ; died near Mobile, Alabama, 28 May, 1850. He was destined for mercantile life by his parents, who belonged to the Established church; but embracing the Wesleyan doctrines in 1813, he determined to become a minister, and, meeting with opposition at home, emigrated to the United States in 1819, and in 1822 entered the New England conference of the Methodist Episcopal church. After preaching for twelve years as an itinerant in various cities of the eastern states, he became a local preacher in New York city in 1832, and thereafter travelled, preached, and lectured at his own discretion. In 1833, in conjunction with Reverend Lewis Garrett, he established in Nashville, Tennessee, the " Western Methodist," which was subsequently transformed into the " Christian Advocate," and adopted as the central organ of the Methodist Episcopal church, south. Great numbers assembled to listen to his sermons in the south and southwest, and many converts were added to the church. He was agent for La Orange college, Alabama, in 1836-'7, and was subsequently for a short time professor of elocution and belles-lettres in that institution, but resided chiefly in the Atlantic cities. In 1841 he was chaplain to the National house of representatives. In 1845-'6 he edited a literary and religious monthly, called the " Calvary Token," that he had established at Auburn, New York In 1847, on the occasion of a second marriage, charges were brought against his moral character, in consequence of which he removed from New York to Arkansas. He preached in various cities, but his popularity was affected and his mind troubled by the suspicions he had incurred, and his power as a pulpit orator was gone. Mr. Maffitt was the author of "Tears of Contrition," a recountal of his religious experiences (1821); " Pulpit Sketches" (Boston, 1828); and a volume of " Poems" (1839). He left an " Oratorical Dictionary " and an " Autobiography."--His son, John Newland, naval officer, born at sea, 22 February, 1819: died in Wilmington, North Carolina, 15 May, 1886, entered the United States navy as a midshipman on 25 February, 1832, became a lieutenant on 25 June, 1848, and was placed on the reserved list on 14 September, 1855. He resigned on 2 May, 1861, and entered the service of the Confederacy. In the early part of 1862 he took a cargo of cotton to England, and while there received instructions to take charge of the steamer "Oreto," which had been clandestinely constructed for the Confederate government at Liverpool. She had been seized on representations made by the American minister, but was released, and allowed to sail. On arriving at Nassau, 28 April, 1862, she was again detained, but was discharged by a court of admiralty, after which Captain Maffitt took her to the island of Green Kay, received on board the guns and armaments, and rechristened her the "Florida." The captain and crew were prostrated by yellow fever, and repaired to Havana for medical attention. He sailed from that port on 1 September, 1862, ran the blockade at Mobile, refitted his vessel and completed her armaments, and steamed out again in a dark and stormy night. The National squadron gave chase, but Captain Maffitt stopped his engines and took in his sails, and the pursuing vessels passed the low hull unobserved. The "Florida" began her captures in the Gulf of Mexico, cruised up to New York, then southward to beyond the equator, and back again to the latitude of New York. With the "Florida" and captained ships that he fitted out as tenders, Captain Maffitt took about fifty-five prizes, including many large and richly laden vessels. The machinery of the lightly built cruiser having become deranged, Maffitt, with the permission of the French government, had his vessel repaired in the docks of the navy-yard at, Brest. The effects of yellow fever and the fatigues of service had so exhausted his strength that he asked to be relieved, and the " Florida" put to sea again under the command of Captain C. N. Norris. His last years were spent in Wilmington, North Carolina
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