King, Thomas Starr, 1824-1864

Alternative names

Hide Profile

King was a popular Unitarian minister, of Boston, Mass. In 1860, he took over the parish in San Francisco, Calif.

From the description of Thomas Starr King sermon notebook : ms, [18??]. (California Historical Society). WorldCat record id: 145416609

American writer and clergyman.

From the description of Letter, 1863 Apr. 29, [San Francisco, to Mr. Swain?]. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 86130298

King was a popular Unitarian minister from Boston, Mass., who took over the parish in San Francisco, Calif. in 1860.

From the description of Thomas Starr King letter : to Daniel N. Haskell : ALS, [1860]. (California Historical Society). WorldCat record id: 122368992

From the description of Thomas Starr King letters and telegram : to N.A. Haven Ball : ALS and DS, 1860-1864. (California Historical Society). WorldCat record id: 122444137

From the description of Thomas Starr King letters : to N.A. Haven Ball : ALS, 1860-1864. (California Historical Society). WorldCat record id: 122563723

Clergyman, lecturer, and author.

From the description of Letter of Thomas Starr King, 1859. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 71009947

Unitarian clergyman and popular lyceum lecturer. In 1860 he moved from Boston to San Francisco, where he became an opponent of secession and an active fund-raiser for the United States Sanitary Commission.

From the description of ALS : San Francisco, to Charlotte B. Whipple, 1860 May 20. (Rosenbach Museum & Library). WorldCat record id: 122626023

Thomas Starr King (1824-1864), a Massachusetts minister, moved to San Francisco in 1858 to become pastor of a Unitarian church.

From the description of Thomas Starr King papers, 1854-1864. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 702128454

Biography / Administrative History

Thomas Starr King (1824-64) was born December 17, 1824, his parents, Thomas Farrington King, a Universalist minister, and Susan Starr, both of New York. T.F. King was called to the Universalist Church, Charlestown, MA in 1835, serving there until his death in September 1839. After the death of his father, Starr (as he was known in the family), had to leave school to help support his mother and five brothers and sisters. He worked in a dry goods store, then as a teacher, becoming principal of the West Medford Grammar School at age 18. He resigned this position to accept a clerking job in the Navy Yard were he had a larger salary and more time for independent study. Through self study, he mastered the requirements for entrance to the ministry.

He preached his first sermon at Woburn, MA, 1845, receiving a call to his father's old pulpit in Charlestown which he accepted in 1846. The following year he began his career as a public lecturer, a career in which he became extremely popular and sought after. In 1848, he accepted a call to the Hollis Street Unitarian Church. At the time, Universalist and Unitarian were separate denominations. "Mr. King openly adopted the Unitarian fellowship, although his relations with his Universalist associates continued to be of the warmest and most friendly character." Starr and Julia M. Wiggin were married, December 17, 1848 shortly after his installation. They had two children: Edith and Frederick.

In 1859 King received several invitations from churches calling him to be their pastor. "San Francisco prevailed." Sailing from New York in April 1860 via Panama, he found SF Unitarian "a moribund church, a depleted society, with an insufficient income and a heavy debt." Landing on April 28 and, with no preparation or advanced notice, King preached the next day to an overflowing crowd. "When his first year closed the debt was paid and the church was on a solid basis, the strongest Protestant parish in the city." With the attack on Fort Sumter in 1861 and the beginning of the war, the position of California was uncertain. Powerful interests in California leaned toward secession, others toward declaring California an independent republic. King decided "California must be won over at any price" and began his crusade for the Union. He lectured and preached from one end of the state to the other "in an earnest fight against secession." He faced hostile crowds, threats of harm, even threats against his life. In the fall election, the loyalty of the state was settled by an overwhelming majority. It was felt that "no one force had done so much to save the State as Mr. King."

With the loyalty of California safe, King turned to other service. He entered in to the movement for the sick and wounded soldiers fund-raising throughout the entire west coast for the Sanitary Commission. He raised a million and a half dollars in 1862. He also began work on raising the money for and then construction of a new church building for SF Unitarian. "At last, his overtaxed powers gave way." The new church, in which he preached seven Sundays, was completed and dedicated in January 1864. He contracted diphtheria, then after a second bout of pneumonia, died on March 4, 1864.

The city of San Francisco, and the entire state, went into mourning. "One wild, wild wave of excitement rolled over this city when the flag, at half-mast, and rumor from ear to ear announced the departure of a mighty spirit. From the gilded saloon to the Christian parlor --wherever he was hated most or loved best, men stopped to pause and ponder, and to simply say, with more than eloquence: 'Starr King is dead!'" (G.G.F., Alta California, March 4, 1864)

This biographical sketch is taken from "Thomas Starr King", by Horace Davis, in the Pacific Unitarian, March, 1904. See Box 4, ff 18.

From the guide to the Thomas Starr King collection, 1837-1964, (The Graduate Theological Union. Library.)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Slicer, Thomas Roberts, 1847-1916. Letters : Boston and S. Brooklyn, to Horace Davis, 1881 Feb.4, Feb. 16. Boston Public Library, Central Library in Copley Square
referencedIn Robinson, Elmo Arnold, b. 1887. Papers, 1910-1972. Andover-Harvard Theological Library, Harvard Divinity School
creatorOf King, Thomas Starr, 1824-1864. ALS : San Francisco, to Charlotte B. Whipple, 1860 May 20. Rosenbach Museum & Library
referencedIn Monterey Public Library. California History Room. Authors clippings : California Literary Centennial, 1950 folder 1840-1912. Monterey Public Library
creatorOf King, Thomas Starr, 1824-1864. Thomas Starr King letters and telegram : to N.A. Haven Ball : ALS and DS, 1860-1864. California Historical Society
creatorOf King, Thomas Starr, 1824-1864. Letter, 1860. University of Pennsylvania Libraries, Van Pelt Library
referencedIn Thomas Houseworth & Co. Stereographs of San Francisco [graphic] / Thomas Houseworth & Co. California Historical Society
creatorOf King, Thomas Starr, 1824-1864. Thomas Starr King letter : to Daniel N. Haskell : ALS, [1860]. California Historical Society
referencedIn Papers, 1819-1882. Andover-Harvard Theological Library, Harvard Divinity School
creatorOf Whittier, John Greenleaf, 1807-1892. Pickard-Whittier papers, 1815-1915. Harvard University, Houghton Library
creatorOf King, Thomas Starr, 1824-1864. Thomas Starr King sermon notebook : ms, [18??]. California Historical Society
referencedIn Houghton Mifflin Company contracts, 1831-1979 (inclusive) 1880-1940 (bulk). Houghton Library.
creatorOf King, Thomas Starr, 1824-1864. Letter, 1863 Apr. 29, [San Francisco, to Mr. Swain?]. Stanford University. Department of Special Collections and University Archives
creatorOf King, Thomas Starr, 1824-1864. Thomas Starr King papers, 1839-1863. UC Berkeley Libraries
referencedIn Watkins, Carleton E., 1829-1916. Thomas Starr King giving a pro-Union speech in San Francisco, shortly after beginning of Civil War : photograph, 1861. Stanford University. Department of Special Collections and University Archives
creatorOf King, Thomas Starr, 1824-1864. Letter of Thomas Starr King, Boston, to Mr. Alger [manuscript] 1855 April 17. University of Virginia. Library
referencedIn Hale, Edward Everett, 1822-1909,. Autograph letters signed and initialled from Edward Everett Hale, Massachusetts and Rhode Island, to various people, 1857-1898. Folger Shakespeare Library
referencedIn Emerson family correspondence, ca. 1725-1900. Houghton Library.
referencedIn Swan, Sarah Hodges, 1825-1910. Hodges-Swan family papers, 1698-1909 (bulk 1845-1909) Cambridge Historical Society
referencedIn Collection of Bret Harte letters and papers, 1857-1959, bulk 1857-1901 Bancroft Library
referencedIn Charles Sumner correspondence, 1829-1874. Houghton Library.
referencedIn Tuckerman, Edward, 1817-1886. Letter, 1874 July 20, Amherst, to [Charles H. Hitchcock?]. Dartmouth College Library
creatorOf Lowell, James Russell, 1819-1891. Letter : Cambridge, to Rev. T.S. King, San Francisco, 1863 Dec. 12. Boston Athenaeum
referencedIn Pickard-Whittier papers, 1815-1915. Houghton Library.
referencedIn Stereographs of San Francisco, ca. 1867-1870s California Historical Society, North Baker Library
creatorOf Students' Lecture Association (University of Michigan). Students' Lecture Association (University of Michigan) letters, 1854-1856 and undated. University of Michigan, Bentley Historical Library
referencedIn James Freeman Clarke additional papers, 1806-1936. Houghton Library.
creatorOf King, Thomas Starr, 1824-1864. Thomas Starr King letters to Henry Whitney Bellows : mss., 1858-1863. UC Berkeley Libraries
referencedIn Wetherbee, Nellie Merrill. Nellie Merrill Wetherbee diary : ms. S, 1860. UC Berkeley Libraries
creatorOf King, Thomas Starr, 1824-1864. Thomas Starr King papers, 1854-1864. Yale University, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
referencedIn James Russell Lowell papers, 1835-1919. Houghton Library.
creatorOf King, Thomas Starr, 1824-1864. Letter of Thomas Starr King, 1859. Library of Congress
referencedIn James Freeman Clarke additional correspondence, 1787-1886. Houghton Library.
creatorOf Mulligan, Charlotte, d. 1900. Charlotte Mulligan petition and note, 1877 and undated. Buffalo History Museum, Research Library
creatorOf King, Thomas Starr. Letter, 1864, Jan. 18, San Francisco, to John G. Whittier. Brown University, John Hay Library
referencedIn Ing, Thomas Starr, 1824-1864. Thomas Starr King collection, 1927-1951. California Historical Society
creatorOf Posner, Russell Maximilian. Collection relating primarily to politics in California, 1859-1932 (bulk 1923-1932). UC Berkeley Libraries
referencedIn Parker, S. H. (Samuel H.), d. 1866. S.H. Parker letter, 1864. New-York Historical Society Library
referencedIn Ralph Waldo Emerson letters from various correspondents, ca. 1814-1882. Houghton Library.
referencedIn Southworth & Hawes,. Thomas Starr King [photograph], [ca. 1850-1860]. Massachusetts Historical Society
creatorOf Old United States Mint (San Francisco, Calif.). United States, Mint, San Francisco records, 1850-1879. UC Berkeley Libraries
creatorOf King, Thomas Starr, 1824-1864. Letter and portrait [manuscript], 1859 September 22. University of Virginia. Library
creatorOf King, Thomas Starr, 1824-1864. Letter, 1855 October 1, Boston. Dartmouth College Library
creatorOf King, Thomas Starr, 1824-1864. Thomas Starr King letters : to N.A. Haven Ball : ALS, 1860-1864. California Historical Society
referencedIn Lewis Gannett papers, 1681-1966 (inclusive) 1900-1960 (bulk). Houghton Library.
referencedIn Hale, Edward Everett, 1822-1909. Letters: Roxbury, Mass., to Horace Davis, 1880-1895. Boston Public Library, Central Library in Copley Square
referencedIn Dewey, Orville, 1794-1882. Papers, 1819-1882 (inclusive). Harvard University, Divinity School Library
referencedIn Plum, David K. Letters, 1865 March 1 - June 29, Fort Monroe, Va., to Alicia Chaplin. Dartmouth College Library
referencedIn Hendee, M. H. M.H. Hendee letter : San Francisco : ALS, 1864 Apr. 22. UC Berkeley Libraries
creatorOf Thomas Starr King collection, 1837-1964 The Graduate Theological Union. Library.
referencedIn Morgan, S. Griffitts, 1816-1893. S. Griffitts Morgan letter to William J. Rotch : San Francisco : ALS, 1864 Apr. 12. The California Digital Library
referencedIn Monterey Public Library. California History Room. Biography clippings : "K" [surname] folder 1893-2008. Monterey Public Library
creatorOf Harte, Bret, 1836-1902. Collection of Bret Harte letters and papers, 1857-1959 (bulk 1857-1901). UC Berkeley Libraries
referencedIn Charles Baldwin Sedgwick Papers, 1814-1891 Special Collections Research Center, Syracuse University Libraries
referencedIn First Universalist Society in Salem, MA. Records, 1806-1955 (inclusive). Harvard University, Divinity School Library
referencedIn Boynton, James E., 1921-. Photographs of the San Francisco Bay Area and California from the James E. Boynton collection [graphic] UC Berkeley Libraries
referencedIn Fulvia. Address in memory of Thomas Starr King, 1864. Massachusetts Historical Society
referencedIn Papers of Thomas Hill, 1794-1930. Harvard University Archives.
referencedIn Letter Book of the College of California, 1849-1867 The Bancroft Library. University Archives.
referencedIn Hobler, Francis, b. 1797. Francis Hobler papers, 1860-1866. Yale University, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
referencedIn Goddard, H. K. Francis Bret Harte : ms. S, 1908 Aug. 7. UC Berkeley Libraries
referencedIn Whipple, Edwin Percy, 1819-1868. Letters to [?]. Boston, MA. 1877. University of Iowa Libraries
referencedIn Adams, Charles Francis, 1835-1915. Topical pamphlet collection, <1741>-<1996>. Concord Free Public Library, Special Collection
referencedIn William Warland Clapp correspondence, 1790-1891 (inclusive), 1840-1891 (bulk). Houghton Library.
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Alger, of Liège, ca. 1060-ca. 1131 person
associatedWith Alger, William Rounseville, 1822-1905. person
associatedWith Ball, N. A. Haven. person
associatedWith Bellows, Henry W. (Henry Whitney), 1814-1882. person
associatedWith Bryan, William G., 1822-1867. person
associatedWith Clapp, William Warland, 1826-1891 person
correspondedWith Clarke, James Freeman, 1810-1888 person
associatedWith College of California corporateBody
associatedWith Day, M. N., person
associatedWith Dewey, Orville, 1794-1882. person
associatedWith Emerson family. family
correspondedWith Emerson, Ralph Waldo, 1803-1882 person
associatedWith First Universalist Society in Salem, MA. corporateBody
associatedWith Frémont, Jessie Benton, 1824-1902. person
associatedWith French, Daniel Chester, 1850-1931 person
associatedWith Fulvia. person
correspondedWith Gannett, Lewis, 1891-1966 person
associatedWith Goddard, H. K. person
associatedWith Hale, Edward Everett, 1822-1909, person
associatedWith Harte, Bret, 1836-1902. person
associatedWith Haskell, Daniel N. (Daniel Noyes), 1818-1874. person
associatedWith Hendee, M. H. person
correspondedWith Hill, Thomas, 1818-1891 person
associatedWith Hobler, Francis, b. 1797. person
associatedWith Houghton Mifflin Company. corporateBody
associatedWith Lowell, James Russell, 1819-1891. person
associatedWith Lynch, Charles L., person
associatedWith Mercantile Library Association (San Francisco, Calif.) corporateBody
associatedWith Monterey Public Library. California History Room. corporateBody
associatedWith Monterey Public Library. California History Room. corporateBody
associatedWith Morgan, S. Griffitts, 1816-1893. person
associatedWith Mulligan, Charlotte, d. 1900. person
associatedWith Neff, Charles. person
associatedWith Norris, Julia Wiggin King, d. 1904 person
associatedWith Old United States Mint (San Francisco, Calif.) corporateBody
associatedWith Parker, S. H. (Samuel H.), d. 1866. person
associatedWith Plum, David K. person
associatedWith Posner, Russell Maximilian. person
associatedWith Robinson, Elmo Arnold, b. 1887 person
associatedWith RRAL. corporateBody
associatedWith Sedgwick, C. B. (Charles Baldwin), 1815-1883 person
associatedWith Slicer, Thomas Roberts, 1847-1916. person
associatedWith Southworth & Hawes, corporateBody
associatedWith Students' Lecture Association (University of Michigan) corporateBody
correspondedWith Sumner, Charles, 1811-1874 person
associatedWith Swan, Sarah Hodges, 1825-1910. person
associatedWith Thomas Houseworth & Co. corporateBody
associatedWith Tuckerman, Edward, 1817-1886. person
associatedWith United States Sanitary Commission. corporateBody
associatedWith Watkins, Carleton E., 1829-1916. person
associatedWith Wendte, Charles William, 1844-1931 person
associatedWith Wetherbee, Nellie Merrill. person
associatedWith Whipple, Charlotte B. Hastings, person
associatedWith Whipple, Edwin Percy, 1819-1868. person
associatedWith Whittier, John Greenleaf, 1807-1892. person
Place Name Admin Code Country
United States
California
United States
San Francisco (Calif.)
California--San Francisco
Panama, Isthmus of (Panama)
California
San Francisco (Calif.)
San Francisco (Calif.)
California--San Francisco
California
United States
Subject
African Americans
Voyages to the Pacific coast
Unitarian churches
Clergy--Political activity
Unitarian Universalists--History--Sources
Lectures and lecturing
American literature--19th century
Unitarians--History--Sources
Slavery
Clergy--Correspondence
Unitarian Universalist churches
Unitarian Universalist Churches--California--History--Sources
Unitarian churches--Clergy--Correspondence
Unitarian church
Occupation
Authors
Clergy
Lecturers
Function

Person

Birth 1824-12-17

Death 1864-03-04

English

Information

Permalink: http://n2t.net/ark:/99166/w63j3p4g

Ark ID: w63j3p4g

SNAC ID: 55910938