Ezra Stiles

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Ezra Stiles (November 29, 1727 – May 12, 1795) was an American academic and educator, a Congregationalist minister, theologian and author. He was president of Yale College (1778–1795).[1]


Early life

Born the son of the Rev. Isaac Stiles in North Haven, Connecticut, Ezra Stiles graduated from Yale in 1746. He studied theology and was ordained in 1749, tutoring at Yale from that year until 1755. Resigning from the ministry, he studied law and practiced at New Haven from 1753 to 1755, when he returned to the ministry for 22 years. Trinity Church, the Anglican Church in Newport, Rhode Island, offered him an opportunity to become its minister, but he turned the offer down to become pastor of the Second Congregational Church in Newport, Rhode Island from 1755 until 1777. While in Newport, he also served as Librarian of the Redwood Library and Athenaeum and kept an informative diary of his life and distinguished acquaintances in Newport, including his association with Aaron Lopez. The Ezra Stiles House in Newport is on the National Historic Register. With arrival of British troops in Newport in late 1776, Stiles left Newport and became pastor of the Congregational Church at Portsmouth, New Hampshire from 1777 until 1778, when he became president of Yale until his death. Stiles owned at least one slave, named "Newport," whom he freed on June 9, 1778.

He married twice (Elizabeth Hubbard and Mary Checkley Cranston) and had eight children. Stiles' son Ezra Stiles, Esq., was educated first at Yale College, then at Harvard College, where he studied law, graduating in 1778. Ezra Stiles Jr. subsequently settled in Vermont, and served to establish the boundaries between Vermont and New Hampshire. He died prematurely at Chowan County, North Carolina on Aug. 22, 1784, and his two daughters by his wife Sylvia (Avery) Stiles of Vermont (and formerly of Norwich, Connecticut) had their uncle Jonathan Leavitt appointed their guardian.[2]

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