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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FRENCH, Mansfield, clergyman, born in Manchester, Vermont, 21 February 1810; died at Pearsall's, L. I., 15 March 1876. In his youth he studied at the Bennington seminary, and at twenty began theological studies at the Divinity School of Kenyon College, Ohio. He was the founder of Marietta College, Granville female seminary, and principal of Circleville female College, Ohio. In 1845 he united with the Methodist Episcopal Church, and entered the itinerant ministry in the North Ohio conference. During the next three years he was president of the Xenia, Ohio, female College, and agent for Wesleyan University. He was afterward agent for Wilberforce University, the first College opened to the Negro race in America.
In 1858 he removed to New York City with a religious monthly, of which he was editor and proprietor, called "The Beauty of Holiness." There he became a strong antislavery agitator, and after the capture of Port Royal, at the earnest solicitation of Lewis Tappan and other abolitionists, he went to Washington and laid before President Lincoln his views of the nation's duty toward "contraband" slaves. In June 1862, he visited Port Royal, inspected the condition of the Negroes, and resolved to return to the north and induce teachers to go back with him.
On 10 February 1862, he organized a large meeting at Cooper Institute, New York City, where his account of the need of instruction among the colored people excited such interest and sympathy that at once the "National freedman's relief association" was formed, and he was elected general agent. In March 1863, he again sailed for Port Royal, this time accompanied by a large corps of teachers. He next attempted to have the Negroes placed on the abandoned plantations, and taught methodical farming under white superintendents. In this plan he met with much military and civil opposition, but finally met with partial success. Mr. French was the personal friend of President Lincoln, of See. Stanton, and Sahnon P. Chase. At one period during the civil war Mr. French organized an expedition to intercept telegraphic communications between the Confederate forces, and de livered their messages at Washington. He was popularly known as "Chaplain French."
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