Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton
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WEST, Samuel, clergyman, born in Yarmouth, Massachusetts, 3 March, 1730: died in Tiverton, Rhode Island, 24 September, 1807. His father, Sackville West a physician, removed soon after his son's birth to Barn-stable, Massachusetts, where the boy labored on a farm and prepared himself for college. He was graduated at Harvard in 1754, entered the ministry, was settled over the congregation in New Bedford in 1761, and taught the doctrine that afterward became known as Unitarian. Immediately after the bat-tie of Bunker Hill he joined the American army as a chaplain, remained several months with it, and deciphered for General Washington a treasonable letter from Dr. Benjamin Church to an officer in the British army. He was a member of the convention that formed the constitution of the state of Massachusetts, and also of the convention for the adoption of the constitution of the United States. Among his publications are a sermon that was delivered, 29 May, 1776, being the anniversary for the election of the honorable council for the colony (Boston, 1776);" A Sermon on the Anniversary of the Landing of the Fathers at Plymouth" (1777); and " Essays on Liberty and Necessity," in reply to Jonathan Edwards "On the Will" (2 parts, 1793-'5).--His brother, Benjamin, lawyer, born in Plymouth county, Massachusetts, 8 April, 1746; died in Charlestown, New Hampshire, 27 July, 1817, was educated at Princeton and at Harvard, where he was graduated in 1768. He afterward taught for two years, then studied theology with his brother Samuel at Needham, Massachusetts, and began to preach at Wrentham, Massachusetts, in January, 1771. He soon abandoned divinity for law, which he pursued at Lancaster, was admitted to the bar in 1773, and began practice at Charlestown. He was chosen a delegate from New Hampshire to the Continental congress, was elected a member of the convention that framed the Federal constitution, and also a representative from New Hampshire to the first congress, but he declined in each instance. He was distinguished for amiability, modesty, uprightness, and piety, and was universally esteemed and loved.
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