Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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MILLS, Samuel John, clergyman, born in Kent, Connecticut, 16 May, 1743; died in Torringford, Connecticut, 11 May, 1833. He was graduated at Yale in 1764, and then studied theology. On 29 June, 1769, he was ordained in Torringford, and remained in charge of that parish until his death, He outlived all of his college classmates, and became generally known, on account of his great age, as " Father Mills." For many years he edited the "Connecticut Evangelical Magazine," and, in addition to various sermons that he preached on special occasions, he published a volume of " Sermons Collected" (1797).--His son, Samuel John, clergyman, born in Torringford, Connecticut, 21 April, 1783; died at sea, 16 June, 1818, was graduated at Williams in 1809, and at Andover theological seminary in 1812. While in college he determined to devote his life to missionary work, and in 1810 addresses that he and several of his classmates made before the General association of Massachusetts resulted in the formation of the American board of commissioners for foreign missions. During 1812-'13 he was exploring agent of the Massachusetts and Connecticut missionary societies in the west and southwest, and in 1814-'15 missionary and Bible agent in the southwest. While in New Orleans during the early part of 1815 he was unable to purchase a single Bible in that city, and, in consequence, he procured a supply in both the French and English languages, and distributed many. Finding that seventy or eighty thousand families at the south and west were destitute of a Bible, he suggested the formation of a national society. His efforts contributed to the establishment of the American Bible society in May, 1816, and meanwhile, on 21 June, 1815, he was ordained. Subsequently the education of the colored people claimed his attention, and in 1816 the synod of New York and New Jersey established a school for the education of young men of color that wished to be preachers and teachers of their race. After the school was established Mr. Mills became its agent in the middle states, and was successful in obtaining funds for its support. The American colonization society was founded on 1 January, 1817, and Mr. Mills was chosen to explore in its behalf the coast of western Africa, and select the most eligible site for a settlement. He reached Africa in March, 1818, spent two months on that continent, and began his homeward voyage in May. Mr. Mills was called the " Father of foreign mission work in Christian America." He published an account of his two visits to the south (Andover, 1815). See "Memoirs of the Reverend Samuel J. Mills," by Gardner Spring (New York, 1854).
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