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 Jonathan Phillips

Born to founder William Phillips on April 24, 1778, Jonathan Phillips graduated from Harvard college in 1818, worked in the dry-goods and hardware business, and served as a state senator. He married the daughter of founder Samuel Salisbury.

He was known for both his intelligence and his wealth, which he shared generously in imitation of his father. He was the largest benefactor in Boston of an expedition to the arctic, gave $10,000 dollars to build a music hall and another $10,000 to the Boston Public Library.

Known for his steady demeanor, he was chosen to chair a particularly heated debate on December 8, 1837 at Faneuil Hall dealing with the murder of abolitionist Elijah Lovejoy, at which his good friend William Ellery Channing and his cousin Wendell Phillips also spoke.

He was part of a gathering of intellectuals called “The Friends,” and was a trustee of Massachusetts General Hospital and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Jonathan Phillips died on July 29, 1860.



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