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Matthew Simpson

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Title: Matthew Simpson  
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Subject: Isaac Wilson Joyce, Phoebe Palmer, Presidency of Abraham Lincoln, Genesee Wesleyan Seminary, Simpson College
Collection: 1811 Births, 1884 Deaths, 19Th-Century American Bishops, 19Th-Century American Journalists, 19Th-Century Journalists, 19Th-Century Methodist Bishops, American Encyclopedists, American Male Journalists, American Methodist Episcopal Bishops, American Newspaper Editors, American Physicians, American Religion Academics, American Religious Writers, American Schoolteachers, American Sermon Writers, American Theologians, Bishops of the Methodist Episcopal Church, Burials at West Laurel Hill Cemetery, Burials in Pennsylvania, Christianity in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Disease-Related Deaths in Pennsylvania, Editors of Christian Publications, Historians of Religion, History of Methodism in the United States, Methodist Theologians, Methodist Writers, People from Cadiz, Ohio, Presidency of Abraham Lincoln, Presidents by University or College in the United States, Presidents of Depauw University, Religious Leaders from Cincinnati, Ohio, Writers from Ohio
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Matthew Simpson

Matthew Simpson
Born 21 June 1811 (1811-06-21)
Cadiz, Ohio
Died Did not recognize date. Try slightly modifying the date in the first parameter.
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Nationality American
Occupation Pastor
Religion Methodism

Matthew Simpson (20 June 1811 – 18 June 1884), was an American bishop of the Methodist Episcopal Church, elected in 1852 and based mostly in Chicago. During the Reconstruction Era after the Civil War, most evangelical denominations in the North, especially the Methodists, were strong supporters of radical policies that favored the Freedmen (former slaves) and distrusted the Southern whites. Bishop Simpson played a leading role in mobilizing the Northern Methodists for the cause. His biographer calls him the "High Priest of the Radical Republicans."[1]


  • Early life and family 1
  • Ministry 2
  • American Civil War 3
  • More foreign travel 4
  • Death and burial 5
  • Selected writings 6
  • Biographies 7
  • See also 8
  • References 9
  • Biographical sources 10
  • External links 11

Early life and family

Matthew was born in Cadiz, Ohio. His grandfather, Thomas Simpson, was a British soldier who emigrated to Ireland. Matthew's father came to America in 1793. Matthew's grandfather Tingley was a Revolutionary soldier. Matthew's uncle also was Matthew Simpson, who also emigrated from Ireland to America in 1793. This Matthew Simpson represented Harrison County, Ohio in the Ohio State Senate for ten years, and served as judge of the County Court for seven years. In later life, he lived with his nephew, reaching the advanced age of ninety-eight. Matthew, the nephew, married Ellen H. Verner of Pittsburgh.

Matthew was consecrated at birth for the ministry by both of his parents. He was baptized as an infant by Bishop Francis Asbury. He was converted to Christ in 1829. Matthew received an academic education in his hometown. He then attended Madison College in Pennsylvania.[2] Madison subsequently merged into Allegheny College in 1833. Matthew was elected to the office of Tutor in his eighteenth year, then engaging in teaching. Having also studied medicine in 1830-1833, he began medical practice.


Shortly thereafter, feeling it his duty to enter the ministry, Matthew was licensed to preach in the M.E. Church, and was received on-trial in the Pittsburgh Annual Conference in 1833. He was ordained by Bishop Robert Richford Roberts. Matthew was appointed pastor of the Liberty Street Methodist Church in Pittsburgh in 1835, and of a church at Monongahela, Pennsylvania in 1836. He was ordained elder in 1837.

The Rev. Simpson was appointed Professor of Natural Science and elected Vice-President of Allegheny College, Meadville, Pennsylvania. In 1838 he was elected professor, and in 1839 president of the newly established Indiana Asbury University (now DePauw University) in Greencastle, Indiana, remaining until 1848. The Rev. Simpson was then elected editor of the Western Christian Advocate, which he made a strong temperance and anti-slavery organ, from 1848 to 1852.

The Rev. Dr. Matthew Simpson was elected to the Episcopacy of his denomination by the M.E. General Conference, May 1852. In discharging his duties, Bishop Simpson visited and presided over conferences in all of the states encompassing the M.E. Church as well as most of the related U.S. Territories. He was sent by the General Conference as a delegate to the Irish and British Wesleyan (i.e., Methodist) Conferences in 1857, as well as to the Evangelical Alliance in Berlin the same year. He traveled with John McClintock. From Berlin, Bishop Simpson extended his travels through Turkey, the Holy Land, Egypt, and Greece, returning to the United States in 1858.

In 1859, Bishop Simpson changed his residence from Pittsburgh to Evanston, Illinois, where he accepted the position of president of the Garrett Biblical Institute (now, Garrett–Evangelical Theological Seminary).[2]

American Civil War

Before the Civil War, debates over slavery were highly contentious among Northern Methodists, but Simpson did not take sides, playing instead a moderate and cautious role. With the outbreak of the Civil War in April 1861, he became a staunch champion of the Union and helped his denomination take a leading role in providing chaplains, volunteers and civilian support for the war effort.[3]

Simpson became a trusted friend of President freedmen at the establishment of the Freedman's Bureau. After the war, Bishop Simpson was invited by President Grant to go as a commissioner to San Domingo but he declined both offers.

More foreign travel

In 1870, at the death of

Death and burial

Bishop Matthew Simpson was taken ill at San Francisco in 1880, but recovered to preach the opening sermon at the First Ecumenical Methodist Conference in London (1881). He was present at the M.E. General Conference in 1884, but took little part. He died 18 June 1884 in Philadelphia and was buried in West Laurel Hill Cemetery, Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania.[2]

Selected writings

  • Sermon: Influence on the Human Mind of the Manifestation of God's Glory - The Methodist Pulpit, in Clark, D.W., Sermons for the College, Akers, 1851.
  • Sermon in Sermons for the Home Circle, T.P. Akers, Ed., 1859.
  • A Hundred Years of Methodism, 1876.[3]
  • Lectures on Preaching (1879), delivered before the Theological Department of Yale College.
  • A volume of his Sermons (1885) was edited by George R. Crooks.
  • Cyclopedia of Methodism, 1858 (and subsequent editions). online


  • Carwardine, Richard. "Methodists, politics, and the coming of the American Civil War." Church history 69.03 (2000): 578-609. online
  • Clark, Robert D. The Life of Matthew Simpson (1956)
  • Stowell, Daniel W. "Simpson, Matthew"; Feb. 2000.American National Biography Online Access July 24, 2014

See also


  1. ^ Robert D. Clark, The Life of Matthew Simpson (1956) pp 245-67
  2. ^ a b c d Oberholtzer, Ellis Paxson (1912). Philadelphia A History of the City and its People A Record of 225 Years (Volume 4). S.J. Clarke Publishing. pp. 5–9. 
  3. ^ Clark, The Life of Matthew Simpson (1956) pp 213, 219
  4. ^ Morris, Benjamin Franklin, ed. (1866). Memorial Record of the Nation's Tribute to Abraham Lincoln ... Compiled by B. F. Moore. W.H. & O.H. Morrison. p. 234. 

Biographical sources

  • Cyclopaedia of Methodism, Matthew Simpson, D.D., LL.D., Ed., (Revised Edition.) Philadelphia, Louis H. Everts, 1880.[4]
  • Leete, Frederick DeLand, Methodist Bishops. Nashville, The Methodist Publishing House, 1948.

External links

  • Biography-West Laurel Hill Cemetery web site
Preceded by
Thomas Asbury Morris
Ohio United Methodist Bishops
Succeeded by
Edward Raymond Ames


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