JOHN WITHERSPOON: Parson, Politician, Patriot by Martha Lou Lemmon Stohlman

JOHN WITHERSPOON: Parson, Politician, Patriot

Email this review


Witherspoon--first effectual president of Princeton, signatory to the Declaration of Independence, member of the Continental Congress, and unifying force in the nascent American Presbyterian Church--is now virtually unknown here and in his native Scotland. To remedy this historical blindspot, Princeton Seminary commissioned ""a compact, readable account"" of the man for the enjoyment of Presbyterians and other historically-minded Americans, and that's what Ms. Stohlman delivers. Tolerably well-written, sufficiently comprehensive, rather churchy, her tale spans his career from his precocious student days (Th.D. at 20) and controversial ministry in Scotland to his long university tenure and intense, though hardly crucial, participation in the nation's birth. Ultimately, this balanced report (it's more a bulky historical pamphlet than a genuine biography) subverts its intent of restoring its subject to some prominence, for it clearly demonstrates that this Calvinist educator and churchman was a minor and not particularly fascinating character caught up almost accidentally in a great drama. A lesser entry in the bicentennial sweepstakes.

Pub Date: April 12th, 1976
Publisher: Westminster