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Mann, Newton (1836-1926)

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Rowena Morse and Newton Mann

Rowena Morse and Newton Mann. Courtesy of the Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University.

Newton Mann was born at Cazenovia, New York, January 6, 1836, the son of Darwin H. and Cordelia (Newton) Mann. He was the descendant of sturdy New England ancestors who had settled in Massachusetts before 1644. When he was twelve years of age the death of his father thrust heavy responsibilities upon him, but in spite of his burdens he persevered in his studies, graduated from Cazenovia Academy and ultimately become a thorough scholar.

At the outbreak of the Civil War he was appointed head of the Western Sanitary Commission, with which he served until the end of the war. He then entered the Unitarian ministry, and in 1865 organized the Unitarian Church in Kenosha, Wisconsin, where he was ordained and where he served for three years. Then followed a pastorate of two years in Troy, New York, and in 1870 he accepted a call to Rochester, where he remained eighteen years. His last charge was at Omaha, Nebraska, where for twenty years he ministered to a substantial congregation.

Mr. Mann lived in the stirring times when evolution was a subject of keen discussion in the churches and for years his sermons were printed in the public press. He was also a trenchant writer and among other books published in 1905 the Evolution of a Great Literature, one of the best books setting forth the results of the higher criticism of the Bible. It provided for the general reader the conclusions of the students of the Bible about the dates, authorship, composition and purposes of the books. It traced “the growth of a people’s literature and its gradual elevation in spirituality and power.”

In 1912 Mr. Mann married the Rev. Rowena Morse and moved to Chicago where she was and continued to be the minister of the Third Unitarian Church. He lived to be ninety, pursuing his studies and enjoying the friends who appreciated his gifts of mind and heart. He died at Chicago in July 25, 1926.

Related Resources in the Harvard Square Library Collection

The Biography of Rowena Morse Mann