Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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McKEEN, Joseph, educator, born in Londonderry, New Hampshire, 15 October, 1757; died in Brunswick, Maine, 15 July, 1807. He was graduated at Dartmouth in 1774, and during the eight years of the Revolution engaged in teaching in his native town, except for a short period of service as a volunteer under Gem John Sullivan. He then went to Cambridge, Massachusetts, and after spending some time in studying mathematics, astronomy, and theology, was licensed and began to preach. In May, 1785, he was ordained pastor of Beverly, Massachusetts, where he remained until he was elected the first president of Bowdoin college in 1802. In 1803 he received the degree of D. D. from Dartmouth. Dr. McKeen possessed a strong and discriminating mind, while his manners were conciliatory though dignified. His proficiency in mathematics was once the means of saving a human life. A man was on trial in Essex county, Massachusetts, for housebreaking. The question to be decided was whether the crime was perpetrated by night or by day, and the man's life hung in the balance. A nice calculation by Dr. Me Keen as to the precise moment of dawn saved the culprit from the gallows. Dr. McKeen's publications consisted chiefly of papers in the "Transactions of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences" and a few occasional sermons.
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