Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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McCALLA, William Latta, clergyman, born near Lexington, Kentucky, 25 November, 1788; died in Louisiana, 12 October, 1859. He was graduated at Transylvania university, studied theology privately, was licensed to preach in 1816, and was a chaplain in the United States army in 1816-'18. He was settled over Presbyterian churches in Augusta, Kentucky, in 1819, and in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, much of the time from 1823 to 1854. During part of this period he was in Texas on account of failing health, serving as an itinerant missionary, and also as an army chaplain. He afterward preached in St. Louis, was connected with a seminary at St. Charles, Missouri, and in the year of his death removed to Louisiana. He also engaged in missionary work among the boatmen of St. Louis and the slaves of the south. Mr. McCalla was a fine linguist and a notable pulpit orator. He was an active and forcible controversialist, and held many public debates including discussions with Alexander Campbell on Baptism, with Abner Kneeland on Universalism, and with Joseph Barker on Infidelity. His self-control and polite manner of saying cutting things led to the remark that "he was smooth as oil, but it was the oil of vitriol." He published many sermons and essays, "The Doctorate of Divinity"; " Adventures in Texas, chiefly in 1840" (Philadelphia) ; and a collection of psalms and hymns in French.
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