Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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LINN, William, clergyman, born in Shippensburg, Pennsylvania, 27 February, 1752; died in Albany, New York, 8 January, 1808. His grandfather, William, and his father of the same name, came from the north of Ireland to Chester county, Pennsylvania, in 1732. The grandson was graduated at Princeton in 1772, ordained by Donegal presbytery in 1775, and in 1776 served as a chaplain in the Continental army. After holding a pastorate at Big Spring (now Newville), Pennsylvania, in 1777-'84, he was president of Washington college, Maryland, till 1785, and had charge of the collegiate Dutch church, New York city, from 1786 till 1805, when feeble health compelled him to retire. He also acted as president of Rutgers college in 1791-'4, was a regent of the University of the state of New York from 1787 till his death, and in 1789 was first chaplain of the United States house of representatives. He was chosen president of Union college shortly before his death, but was not inaugurated. Princeton gave him the degree of D. D. in 1789. Dr. Linn was a pulpit orator of much power. He published "Sermons, Historical and Characteristical" (New York, 1791); "Signs of the Times" (1794); a "Funeral Eulogy on General Washington," delivered 22 February, 1800, before the New York society of the Cincinnati, and various separate sermons.--His son, John Blair, clergyman, born in Shippensburg, Pennsylvania, 14 March, 1777; died in Philadelphia, 30 August, 1804, was graduated at Columbia in 1795, and read law with Alexander Hamilton. While a law student he wrote a drama called "Bourville Castle," which was produced at the John street theatre in 1797, but was unsuccessful. He afterward studied theology, was licensed as a Presbyterian clergyman in 1798, and on 13 June, 1799, installed as joint pastor of the 1st Presbyterian church, Philadelphia, where he remained till his death. He received the degree of D. D. from the University of Pennsylvania in 1803, and from Columbia in 1804. Several years before his death an exposure to the sun resulted in an affection of the brain, which often made it difficult for him to speak, in the pulpit. Dr. Linn was a man of much promise. He published a poem on "The Death of Washington" (1800); "The Power of Genius," a poem in the style of Ossian (1801); two replies to Unitarian tracts by Dr. Joseph Priestley (1803); and "Valerian," a narrative poem, which was issued after his death, with a sketch of his life by his brother-in-law, Charles Brockden Brown (1805). He also published anonymously two volumes of miscellanies soon after he left college.--Another son, William, lawyer, born in New York city, 31 August, 1790; died in Ithaca, New York, 14 January, 1867, studied law, and practised his profession at Ithaca, New York He was the author of a "Life of Thomas Jefferson" (Ithaca, 1834), and the "Roorbach Papers," purporting to be extracts from the travels of a "Baron Roorbach" (1844). From these the name of "Roorbach" came to be applied to any political canard. Mr. Linn was also the author of a "Legal and Commercial Commonplace Book" (1850).--Another son, Archibald Laidlie, lawyer, born in New York city, 15 October, 1802; died in Schenectady, New York. 10 October, 1857, was graduated at Union college in 1820, admitted to the bar, and began to practise in Schenectady. He was twice mayor of that town, served in congress in 1841-'3, having been elected as a Whig, and in 1844 was a member of the New York legislature. He also served as a county judge.--John Blair, grandson of William's brother, John, lawyer, born in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, 15 October, 1831, was graduated at Marshall college, Pennsylvania, in 1848, and admitted to the bar of Union county, Pennsylvania, in 1851. He became 1st lieutenant in the 51st Pennsylvania regiment in 1862, served in the civil war, and was deputy secretary of the state in 1873-'8, and secretary in 1878-'9. His published works are "Annals of Buffalo Valley" (1877); "Pennsylvania Archives," 2d series, with William H. Egle, M. D. (12 vols., 1874-'80); and "History of Center and Clinton Counties" (1883).
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