Artifacts & Documents: Manuscripts

Edward Hitchcock's 1821 Thanksgiving Sermon

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Imagine his congregation's surprise upon hearing this sermon on Thanksgiving Day when, instead of advising his "hearers" to give thanks for the many blessings of a bountiful harvest and good health, and to remember the less-fortunate, their new pastor, Reverend Edward Hitchcock, launched into a lecture detailing the great numbers of species of creatures and rocks to be found on this planet! He even described the magnitude of the earth and the speed at which it travels and speculated on the existence of other inhabitable planets. Finally, within the last few pages of his 22-page sermon, Hitchcock turned to a more traditional message of thanksgiving, but still managed to weave in reminders to his flock to give thanks for all works of God. Hitchcock made a tradition of centering his Thanksgiving sermons on topics concerning science and nature.

Edward Hitchcock
December 1821
Courtesy of:
Edward and Orra White Hitchcock Papers, Amherst College Archives and Special Collections, Amherst College Library