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Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1887-1889 and 1999. Virtualology.com warns that these 19th Century biographies contain errors and bias. We rely on volunteers to edit the historic biographies on a continual basis. If you would like to edit this biography please submit a rewritten biography in text form . If acceptable, the new biography will be published above the 19th Century Appleton's Cyclopedia Biography citing the volunteer editor





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Samuel Niles

NILES, Samuel, clergyman, born on Block island, Rhode Island, 1 May, 1674; died in Braintree, Massachusetts, 1 May, 1762. He was graduated at Harvard in 1699 and preached in a district of Rhode Island called the " ministerial lands," and in Kingston, Rhode Island, from 1702 till 1710. From 1711 until his death he was pastor of the 2d church in Braintree, Massachusetts In 1759 he received the degree of M. A. from Harvard. He was the author of "Tristitiae Ecclesiarum, or a Brief and Sorrowful Account of the Present Churches in New England " (1745) ; "God's Wonder-working Providence for New England in the Reduction of Louisburg," a tract in verse (1747) ; "Vindication of Divers Important Doctrines " (1752);" The True Scripture Doctrine of Original Sin," in answer to Dr. John Taylor's work on the same subject (1757) ; and an unfinished "History of the Indian and French Wars," published in the Massachusetts historical collections. His diary, kept for sixty years, containing a complete history of the town of Braintree, is still extant.-His son, Samuel, jurist, born in Braintree, Massachusetts, 14 May, 1711 ; died in Lebanon, Connecticut, 30 April, 1804, was graduated at Harvard in 1731, was judge of the court of common pleas for Suffolk county, a councillor, and the friend, neighbor, and legal adviser of John Adams.--The second Samuel's son, Nathaniel, lawyer, born in South Kingston, Rhode Island, 3 April, 1741; died in West Fairlee, Vermont, 31 October, 1828, studied at Harvard, and was graduated in 1766 at Princeton, where he was known as " Botheration primus." Subsequently he studied medicine and law, taught for a time in New York city, and then studied theology under Dr. Joseph Bellamy. He preached in various New England towns, and finally settled in Norwich, Connecticut, where he invented a process of making wire from bar-iron by water-power. He afterward erected a wool-card manufactory in that town. After the Revolution he bought a tract of land in Orange county, Vermont, in what is now West Fairlee, being the first inhabitant of that place, and preaching in his own house there for nearly forty years. He was a member of the Vermont legislature, serving as its speaker in 1784, a judge of the supreme court, six times a presidential elector, and a representative to congress, serving from 24 October, 1791, till 3 March, 1795. He was also a " censor" for revising the state constitution. He received the degree of A. M. in 1772 from Harvard, and in 1791 from Dartmouth, of which institution he was a trustee from 1793 till 1820. He published "Four Discourses on Secret Prayer" (1773); " Two Discourses on Confession of Sin and Forgiveness" (1773); two upon " Liberty" ; two sermons entitled "The Perfection of God," the "Fountain of Good " (1777); a sermon on " Vain Amusements"; and a " Letter to a Friend concerning the Doctrine that Impenitent Sinners have the Natural Power to make to Themselves New Hearts." He contributed papers to the " Theological Magazine," and was the author of " The American Hero," a popular war-song during the Revolution, written upon hearing of the news of the battle of Bunker Hill.--Another son, Samuel, clergyman, born in Braintree, Massachusetts, 14 December, 1744; died in Abington, Massachusetts, 16 January, 1814, was graduated at Princeton in 1769, and was known there as "Botheration secundus." After studying theology under Dr. Joseph Bellamy and his father-in-law, Reverend Ezekiel Dodge, he was ordained pastor of a Congregational church in Abington on 25 September, 1771, and preached there for forty years. He published a sermon on the death of Gem Washington (1800), a sermon before the Massachusetts missionary society (1801), and a pamphlet entitled "Remarks on a Sermon by John Reed" (1813).--Nathaniel's grandson, Nathaniel, lawyer, born in South Kingston, Rhode Island, 15 September, 1835, was educated at Phillips Andover academy, studied law, and was admitted to the New York bar in 1857. He became speaker of the New Jersey assembly in 1872, government director of the Union Pacific railroad in 1879, and since 1884 has been president of the Tradesmen's national bank of New York city. He is the author of several important laws that have been passed in the New Jersey legislature, among which is one that established 1,000 free-school libraries in that state, and another that created a free-school fund which now exceeds $3,000,000.

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