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

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Mr. Henry Chapman

Born in Salem in 1771 and owner of Henry Chapman & Co., Henry Chapman was a ship chandler [a dealer in ship supplies] who is better known for his daughter-in-law’s accomplishments than his own. Maria Weston Chapman was an esteemed part of the Female Anti-Slavery Society in Boston. An 1840 annual report of that Society describes Mrs. Chapman: “A woman of genius like hers cannot but take the lead wherever she acts at all; and she is the life and soul of the enterprise in Boston. The foes of the cause have nicknamed her "Captain Chapman;" and the name passes from mouth to mouth as she walks up Washington-street,—not less admired, perhaps, all the while, than if she were only the most beautiful woman in the city.” She was known as William Lloyd Garrison’s chief lieutenant.

The Female Anti-Slavery Society credits Maria Chapman with convincing MBS founder and later President John Quincy Adams to take up the abolitionist cause. Perhaps she had access to John Quincy Adams through the Massachusetts Bible Society. Perhaps she was drawn to Mr. Chapman’s son—also Henry—because of the commitment of the elder Mr. Chapman, who notably gave away all his southern business connections when they were found to have connection to the slave trade. The senior Mr. Chapman died in 1846.

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