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Notable American Unitarians: Religion – Frederic Henry Hedge

Frederic Henry Hedge, 1805-1890

Frederic Henry Hedge

Courtesy of the Unitarian Universalist Association Archives

Frederic was educated mainly by his father, Levi Hedge, Harvard’s Alford Professor of Natural Religion, Moral Philosophy, and Civil Polity. At the age of thirteen, accompanied by his tutor—later, a distinguished American historian—George Bancroft, Hedge studied in Europe for four years before entering Harvard College and the Divinity School. Ordained in West Cambridge (now Arlington), Massachusetts, his friends included Emerson and Margaret Fuller. Although he wrote the very first article describing the Transcendentalist movement and also organized the Transcendentalist Club—which initiated the Transcendentalist periodical, The Dial—he emphasized the ideal of the Christian Church existing through the generations.

In addition to his parish work in West Cambridge and Bangor, Maine, he taught the history of the Christian Church, as well as German language and literature, at Harvard.

Among his major publications are Prose Writers of Germany and Reason in Religion.

Hedge’s most popular literary piece, still shared across the centuries, is his translation of Martin Luther’s hymn, A Mighty Fortress is Our God.


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