William Ellery Channing House // 1834

Located on Mount Vernon Street in Boston’s iconic Beacon Hill neighborhood, you can find this townhouse which was once home to William Ellery Channing (1780-1842). William, the son of William Channing and Lucy Ellery, was born in Newport, Rhode Island, and as a child, he was cared for by the formerly enslaved woman Duchess Quamino, who later influenced his views on abolitionism. Channing graduated from Harvard Theological School, first in his class. After graduating, he was ordained minister of the Federal Street Church (now the Arlington Street Church in the Back Bay), where he served until his death. Channing embraced the great sociopolitical causes of day, speaking out against slavery, poverty, war, labor problems, and for the need for quality public education. When minister Channing moved into his new home, he wrote ‘Slavery’, which argued that slaves, “have the same rational nature and the same power of conscience” as those who are not enslaved. Slavery was a sin against God, in Channing’s view, because it prevented both slaves and slave-owners from following the ethical teachings of Jesus and perfecting their human nature. This view met strong disapproval from the powerful Bostonians in Channing’s congregation. In 1840, he broke from the congregation and died just two years later.

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