Strangers to Us All
Lawyers and Poetry

Rev. John Pierpont
Harper's Weekly
September 15, 1866

The Rev. John Pierpont, whose death we regret to announce, was born April 6, 1785, in Litchfield, Connecticut. His education was completed in 1804, at Yale College, and in 1805 he became a tutor in the family of Colonel William Allston, of North Carolina. In 1809 he returned to Connecticut, where he studied law, and settled at Newburyport, Massachusetts. He did not succeed as a lawyer, and his mercantile enterprises in Baltimore and Boston were also unfortunate. In 1816 he published "Airs of Palestine," one of his first poems,
and subsequently studied in the Harvard Theological School. In 1819 he was ordained minister of the Hollis Street Unitarian Church in Boston. In 1835-36 he visited Europe, and published in 1840 an edition of his poems. His persistence in speaking in favor of the temperance reform caused trouble with his congregation, which resulted in a seven years' controversy, when he resigned. In 1855 he accepted the charge of the Unitarian Church in Troy, New York, where he remained four years, and then took charge of the First Congregational Church in Medford, Massachusetts, where he continued to reside till the beginning of the war. Of late Mr.Pierpont -probably unfitted by age for the active duties of a clergyman, was obliged to accept a clerkship in the Treasury Department, and holding that position died.

John Pierpont was a good man, and an earnest reformer. He labored actively in behalf of temperance, anti-Slavery, the melioration of prison discipline, and other reforms. But as a poet he will be chiefly remembered. His most important poems were the inspiration of special occasions; one of the longest was read in honor of the centennial celebration at Litchfield, and even "Airs of Palestine,"
the work which first gave him reputation, was written for recitation at a charity concert. The idea of this poem is the exhibition of the power of music in conjunction with local scenery and national character, mainly referring to the sacred history. His temperance songs, religious and patriotic poems, are numerous, and probably the majority have never been collected. During the war he wrote several noble songs, inspired with passion and energy, and remarkable for one almost an octogenarian. Mr.Pierpont, who was always strong and healthy, retained much of his power almost up to his death. As an American poet he can not be ranked with the best; the highest imagination was denied him, but some of his religious poetry has rarely been excelled for strength and simplicity.