Founders of the Massachusetts Bible Society - 1809

The Massachusetts Bible Society began on July 6, 1809 and is an ecumenical, Christian organization dedicated to promoting Biblical literacy, understanding, and dialogue. This blog lists brief biographies of our founders who gathered in the Massachusetts State House Senate Chamber on that historic day to sign the Charter founding MBS. Please visit our website:

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Location: Newton Centre, MA, United States

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The Honorable John Phillips

Although twenty years his junior, John Phillips was the cousin of MBS President William Phillips. He was born in Boston on Nov. 26, 1770 and married founder Samuel H. Walley’s sister, making the founders’ bond tighter still.

John Phillips graduated from Harvard College in 1788, studied law, became a prosecutor, and then served in the Massachusetts Senate, serving as that body’s president from 1813-1823. A noted orator, he gave the fourth of July oration before the people of Boston in 1794. Those were skills he passed to his son, the noted orator and abolitionist, Wendell Phillips.

John Phillips took part in the Constitutional Convention for the State of Massachusetts in 1820 and was part of the group that drew the first charter for the City of Boston in 1822. He was subsequently elected the city’s first mayor on April 16, 1822.

Always interested in education, he was a Trustee of Phillips Academy and also part of the Corporation of Harvard College, a seat that he maintained until his death on May 29, 1823. It was written of him that In politics he was fixed, but not stern; wary, but not suspicious; courteous in manner, but unyielding in principle—his independence never approximated to rudeness, nor could his condescension be mistaken for fear. His political friends and opposers knew where to find him, and the former never feared that he would trim for popularity, nor the latter ever led to suspect that he might be seduced by flattery or the promise of rewards.”

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