William Ellery Channing collection
William Ellery Channing was born on April 7, 1780, in Newport, Rhode Island, and, following his father's death, was raised primarily by his grandfather, William Ellery, a signer of the Declaration of Independence. Channing graduated from Harvard in 1798 and, after spending time in Richmond, Virginia, became a vocal opponent of slavery. Upon his return north, Channing settled in Boston, where he turned the Federal Street Church into a leading institution in the Unitarian movement and helped establish both the American Unitarian Association and the Harvard Divinity School. Channing married Ruth Gibbs in 1814, and they had four children. He died on October 2, 1842.