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Bill Thayer

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 [decorative delimiter] Class of 1830

Vol. I

(Born R. I.)

Francis Vinton

(Ap'd R. I.)


Born Aug. 20, 1809, Providence, RI.

Military History. — Cadet at the Military Academy, July 1, 1826, to July 1, 1830, when he was graduated and promoted in the Army to

Bvt. Second Lieut., 3d Artillery, July 1, 1830.

Second Lieut., 3d Artillery, July 1, 1830.

Served: in garrison at Ft. Independence, Mas., 1830‑32; on Topographical duty, July 17, 1832, to Apr. 3, 1833; on Engineer duty, Apr. 8 to Sep., 1833; in garrison at Ft. Constitution, N. H., 1833‑36; in Creek Nation, 1836; and on Recruiting service, 1836.

Resigned, Aug. 31, 1836.

Civil History. — Clergyman of the Protestant Episcopal Church, 1839‑72. Elected Bishop of Indiana, June 3, 1848: declined. Degree of S. T. D. conferred by Columbia College, N. Y., 1848. Member of the Board of Visitors to the U. S. Military Academy, 1855. Deputy to the General Convention of the Protestant Episcopal Church, 1853‑66. President of the Board of Visitors to the U. S. Military Academy, 1867. Assistant Minister of Trinity Church, New York city, 1855‑72. Ludlow Professor of Ecclesiastical Polity and Canon Law in the General Theological Seminary of the Protestant Episcopal Church, Feb. 3, 1869, to Sep. 29, 1872. Author of Treatise on Canon Law, 18–––.

Died, Sep. 29, 1872, at Brooklyn, N. Y.: Aged 63.

Buried, Island Cemetery, Newport, RI.

Biographical Sketch.

Reverend Francis Vinton was born, Aug. 20, 1809, at Providence, R. I. He entered the Military Academy, July 1, 1826, and while a Cadet, by his attention to his studies and devotion to literary improvement, gave high promise of his future eminence. Upon graduating from the institution he was promoted to the Artillery, and not only conscientiously performed all his military duties, but found time for the study of law, in which profession his logical mind, skill in debate, and perception of its intricacies, gave high promise of distinction. Soon after being admitted to the Massachusetts bar, he, Aug. 31, 1836, resigned from the Army, not to enter the legal profession, but the Episcopal ministry. In 1839 he was ordained, and began his new career in a small parish of his native State, from which he was soon called to Newport, R. I., and, in 1844, to Brooklyn, N. Y., where his eloquence and unwearying labors placed him among the most noted divines of the country.​a Declining the Bishopric of Indiana, to which he was elected in 1848, he became, in 1855, Assistant Minister of Trinity Parish, New York city, and four years later was specially  p450 assigned to the charge of Trinity Church, which was always filled to overflowing with admiring hearers to listen to his impressive reading of the Church services and the brilliant oratory of his sermons.

Vinton was appointed, Feb. 3, 1869, Ludlow Professor of Ecclesiastical Polity and Canon Law in the General Theological Seminary of the Protestant Episcopal Church, where he won golden opinions from all connected with the institution. Professor Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Albert Church, his intimate friend, sums up Dr. Vinton's characteristics in the following graceful tribute to his memory: "With talents of the highest order, cultivated and trained by hard study; with an untiring energy and a determined will; with an eloquence of voice and manner seldom surpassed, he could not have failed of great success in any profession. With almost unlimited power of language, he was an eloquent speaker, a clear and logical debater, a magnificent reader of Holy Scripture, and again, to quote from the memorial sermon of Dr. Dix, 'was conspicuous in the councils of the Church, general and diocesan; in public meetings, which he often had occasion to address, and where he was heard with great attention and pleasure; at the anniversaries of our charitable institutions, and in the social meetings and merry-making of the schools and similar organizations, where his manner and words always gave zest to the general mirthfulness.' Social in his disposition, he delighted in the society of the intelligent, and in this society was ever full of wit and playfulness, and yet at his own pleasant fireside, in the midst of a loving and respecting family, he ever found his greatest happiness, his most unalloyed enjoyment. He was a lover of children, and whether surrounded by them in the Sunday-school or joining in their sports on the playground, he was devoted to their instruction and happiness, and was with them a general favorite. He was the first to introduce the custom of Christmas tree festivals, for their amusement and reward, a custom now so extended in our country and popular with all denominations of Christians. He loved the Military Academy as his educating mother, and all things connected with West Point. Twice he was a member of the Board of Visitors, once its President, and in this capacity worked faithfully for the interests of the institution he so much venerated. He was among the first in efforts to organize our Association [of Graduates of the Military Academy], and those present at our first two meetings well remember how much he contributed by his wit and humor to its success. Above all he loved his country, and in her darkest hours did all in his power for her honor and salvation, and when peace was restored he was among the most earnest in his efforts, by word and deed, to bring about forgetfulness of the causes and consequences of strife, and to cultivate anew a common love of a common country."

Thayer's Note:

a A bibliography of his published works, including a sample of his preaching — a Thanksgiving sermon, Dec. 4, 1845 — is online at the Canterbury Project. The curious outlier, "Louis XVII and Eleazar Williams. Were They the Same Person?", a 10‑page article, is online in several places, for example as a set of text images at the University of Michigan.

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Page updated: 31 Jul 13