John Thornton Kirkland

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John Thornton Kirkland
JohnThorntonKikland.jpg
15th President of Harvard University
Term 1810 – 1828
Predecessor Samuel Webber
Successor Josiah Quincy III
Born (1770-08-17)August 17, 1770
Herkimer County, New York
Died April 26, 1840(1840-04-26) (aged 69)
Boston, Massachusetts

John Thornton Kirkland (August 17, 1770 – April 26, 1840) served as President of Harvard University from 1810 to 1828. As an undergraduate, he was a member of the Hasty Pudding. A religious minister like many of his predecessors, he is remembered chiefly for his lenient treatment of students. Kirkland House, one of Harvard's undergraduate "houses," or residence halls, was named in his honor and in recognition of his term at the school's helm.

Oliver Wendell Holmes describes him thus, in his study of Ralph Waldo Emerson: "His 'shining morning face' was round as a baby's, and talked as pleasantly as his voice did, with smiles for accents and dimples for punctuation.... It was of him that the story was always told,--it may be as old as the invention of printing,--that he threw his sermons into a barrel, where they went to pieces and got mixed up, and that when he was going to preach he fished out what he thought would be about enough for a sermon, and patched the leaves together as he best might."

His contemporary George Ticknor described Kirkland's sermons as "full of intellectual wealth and practical wisdom, with sometimes a quaintness that bordered on humor."

Kirkland served as pastor of the New South Church in Boston, 1794–1810.

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Academic offices
Preceded by
Samuel Webber
President of Harvard University
1810–1828
Succeeded by
Josiah Quincy III