Thomas Whittemore (Universalist)

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Thomas Whittemore grave, Mount Auburn Cemetery

Thomas Whittemore (January 1, 1800 – March 21, 1861 in Cambridge, Massachusetts) was a Christian Universalist author, speaker and influential member of the Universalist Church of America. He founded and was the editor of The Trumpet and Universalist magazine, which succeeded the Universalist magazine of Hosea Ballou in 1828.[1][2]

Like Ballou and Ballou's grand-nephew, Hosea Ballou II, first president of Tufts College, Whittemore contributed to Universalist historiography by identifying precedents for Universalist beliefs in earlier Christianity.[3] With Thomas J. Sawyer of New York, he co-founded the Universalist Historical Society in 1834.[4] These histories were influential in bringing many readers to regard the Christians of the first centuries as Universalists.[5]

Massachusetts Legislature[edit]

From 1831-1836, Whittemore served as Cambridge's representative in the Massachusetts legislature, serving as chair of the committee that oversaw the disestablishment of the Congregational Church and Unitarian Church, to whose special status Whittemore was opposed, from the privileged position they had been accorded in the Massachusetts Constitution. Whittmore held that "no civil government has a right to compel the citizens to support any system of religion whatsoever" and supported calls for a popular referendum on the separation of church and state in 1834. The results of that referendum brought Massachusetts into accord with the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.[6][7][8]

He was buried in Mount Auburn Cemetery.

His papers are in the Andover-Harvard Theological Library at Harvard Divinity School in Cambridge, Massachusetts; the Thomas Whittemore family papers are at Tufts University's Digital Collections and Archives.


"The glory of God, and of His Son Jesus Christ, as manifested in the final holiness and happiness of all men, is the central sun of Universalism."

-Thomas Whittemore, Plain Guide to Universalism [9]


  • The Modern History of Universalism 1830, revised 1860 - a companion to Ballou's Ancient History of Universalism which covers 1500-1800
  • The plain guide to Universalism: designed to lead inquirers to the belief of the doctrine, and believers to the practice of it 1840
  • "Universalists Sustain the Bible", in The Trumpet and Universalist Magazine, August 19, 1848[10]
  • "Decision of the Vermont Convention" in The Trumpet and Universalist Magazine, September 23[10]
  • Life of Rev. Hosea Ballou, 1855
  • The early days of Thomas Whittemore: An autobiography 1860


  1. ^ Paul Finkelman Encyclopedia of the United States in the Nineteenth Century 2001 "Thomas Whittemore (1800-1861) Whittemore was one of Universalism's most ardent defenders and the editor of Trumpet and Universalist'"
  2. ^ UUA org bio Archived 2010-10-01 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ Whittemore, The early days of Thomas Whittemore: An Autobiography "extended through nine years; edited in the first two volumes by Rev. Hosea Ballou; in a part of the second, and up to the end of the seventh volume, by Hosea Ballou, Hosea Ballou, 2d, and Thomas Whittemore"
  4. ^ Russell E. Miller The larger hope: the first century of the Universalist Church in 1979 "became the Universalist Historical Society in 1834 was shared by Thomas J. Sawyer of New York, and Thomas Whittemore, editor of the Trumpet in Boston. According to Whittemore, it was Sawyer who originally conceived the idea.
  5. ^ George Huntston Williams American universalism: a bicentennial historical essay (1976), p 94
  6. ^ Alan Seaburg, Thomas Dahill Cambridge on the Charles (2001), p. 26
  7. ^ The Princeton Encyclopedia of American Political History Vol. 1, ed. Michael Kazin, Rebecca Edwards, Adam Rothman (2009), "Disestablishment of the Congregationalist churches in Massachusetts"
  8. ^ Stephen Higginson Clark The Politics of Disestablishment in Massachusetts, 1820-1833 (1965)
  9. ^ [1]
  10. ^ a b John Benedict Buescher, The other side of salvation: spiritualism and the Nineteenth-Century Religious Experience (2004)

External links[edit]