William Dwight Porter Bliss

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William Dwight Porter Bliss (1856–1926) was an American Christian Socialist writer, editor, and activist. He is remembered as a pioneer historian of the world socialist movement.


Early life[edit]

William Dwight Porter Bliss was born in Constantinople, Turkey on August 20, 1856,[1] the son of Christian missionaries there. He was educated at Phillips Academy, Andover and the Hartford Theological Seminary in Hartford, Connecticut.[2]

He acted as pastor following his graduation in 1882. He first served Congregationalist communities and then Episcopal churches.

Political career[edit]

In the 1880s Bliss became interested in Christian Socialism, a movement which sought to apply the teachings of Christ to modern social difficulties, caused, they believed, by industrialization and urbanization. In 1889 Bliss organised the first Christian Socialist Society in the United States. He was also the editor of The Dawn, the official magazine of the society.

In 1887 Bliss attempted to become the Lieutenant-Governor of Massachusetts but lost the election. He had stood on the Labor Party ticket. He served as an investigator for the Bureau of Labor.

Bliss lectured extensively on labor and social reform. He edited and compiled many publications, including the Encyclopædia of Social Reform in 1897.

In World War I, he did educational work among French and Belgian soldiers interned in Switzerland.

Death and legacy[edit]

After the War, Bliss returned to the United States and preached in New York City until his death in that city on October 8, 1926. Bliss is honored together with Richard Theodore Ely with a feast day on the liturgical calendar of the Episcopal Church (USA) on October 8.


  1. ^ Patrick W. Carey; Joseph T. Lienhard (1 January 2000). Biographical Dictionary of Christian Theologians. Greenwood Publishing Group. pp. 76–. ISBN 978-0-313-29649-9. 
  2. ^ Paul A. Djupe; Laura R. Olson (2003). Encyclopedia of American Religion and Politics. Infobase Publishing. pp. 49–. ISBN 978-1-4381-3020-0. 

External links[edit]


  • Socialism in the Church of England. Boston: n.p., 1888.
  • What Is Christian Socialism? Boston: Society of Christian Socialists, 1890.
  • What Christian Socialism Is. Boston: Office of the Dawn, 1894.
  • Objections to Christian Socialism. Boston: Office of the Dawn, 1894.
  • The Social Faith of the Catholic Church: Or, the Lesson of Fellowship in Unity: A Sermon for Trinity Sunday. Boston: Office of the Dawn, 1894.
  • What Is Socialism?" Roslindale, MA: The Dawn, 1894.
  • A Handbook of Socialism: A Statement of Socialism in its Various Aspects, and a History of Socialism in All Countries. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1895.
  • Arbitration and Conciliation in Industrial Disputes. Boston: Church Social Union, 1895.
  • American Trade Unions. Boston: Church Social Union, 1896.
  • What To Do: A Programme of Christian Socialism. San Francisco: Rembaugh, n.d. [1890s].
  • A Plea for the Union of the Reform Forces with the Democratic Party. New York: Commercial Printing House, n.d. [c. 1900].
  • "What is Done for the Unemployed in European Countries," Bulletin of the Bureau of Labor, no. 76, pp. 741-934.
  • The New Encyclopedia of Social Reform. Co-editor with Rudolph Michael Binder and Edward Page Gaston. New York: Funk and Wagnalls, 1908.

Further reading[edit]

  • Richard B. Dressner, "William Dwight Porter Bliss's Christian Socialism," Church History, vol. 47, no. 1 (March 1978), pp. 66–82. In JSTOR.