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: www.massbible.org.

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Location: Newton Centre, MA, United States

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Rev. Jedidiah Morse, DD

For 30 years the pastor of the church in Charlestown, MA, Rev. Morse was born in Woodstock, Connecticut on Aug. 23, 1761. He began at Yale in 1779 and since he did not come from a wealthy family, supported his tuition by teaching school and teaching singing. It was only there at Yale, in conversation with Yale’s President Stiles, that the young Morse made a profession of faith and joined the church. He then determined to enter the ministry.


He graduated from Yale in 1783 and began the study of theology. He was licensed and preached in several locations while also tutoring at Yale, finally becoming ordained right before swapping positions with fellow founder Abiel Holmes, just recently come north from Georgia. After six months in Georgia, Rev. Morse returned to New England, finally settling at the Charlestown Church.


Rev. Morse was one of the Overseers of Harvard standing in opposition to the selection of founder Henry Ware as the Hollis Professor of Divinity. Health forced his resignation from Charlestown in 1820 and he went back to New Haven.


While the Bible Society is more apt to highlight his theological background, most of society knows Jedidiah Morse as the “Father of American Geography,” a passion that developed during his years teaching young girls, when he wrote a textbook on the subject for them. That textbook turned into more and better until his reputation was universally established. The son of Rev. Morse, Mr. Samuel F.B. Morse invented the telegraph and “Morse Code.” Rev. Jedidiah Morse died on June 9, 1826.

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