« Burrell, David James Burritt, Elihu Burroughes (Burroughs), Jeremiah »

Burritt, Elihu

BURRITT, ELIHU: American Congregational layman, scholar, and philanthropist; b. at New Britain, Conn., Dec. 8, 1810; d. there Mar. 6, 1879. While earning his living by his trade of blacksmith, he acquired before the age of thirty some acquaintance with most of the languages of Europe, and also with Hebrew, Samaritan, and Ethiopic. So although modest and deprecating notoriety, he became known as "the learned blacksmith." In 1841 he was invited to lecture, and prepared an address on "Application and Genius," in which he argued that all attainments are the result of persistent will and application alone. His lecturing was successful, and thenceforth he was prominent before the public as orator, editor, and philanthropist. In 1846 he went to England. For the next twenty-five years he spent most of his time abroad. He organized "The League of Universal Brotherhood" to work for the abolition of war and to promote friendly feelings between different peoples, and was active in connection with the first Peace Congress at Brussels in 1848 and similar gatherings afterward. He developed the idea of an "ocean penny postage," i.e., the reduction of the high rates then charged on international letters to a sum not more than double the domestic rate. After the outbreak of the Crimean War he returned to America and advocated the emancipation of the negro slaves, with compensation to the owners. From 1865 to 1869 he was consular agent of the United States at Birmingham. After 1870 he lived in retirement at New Britain, but was busy with his pen. He was always active in church work and strove to promote Christian fellowship between different creeds and confessions. He published many works, including: Sparks from the Anvil (London, 1847); Thoughts and Things at Home and Abroad (Boston, 1854); Walk from London to John O’Groat's House (London, 1864); Walk from London to Land's End and Back (1865); Walks in the Black Country and its Green Border Lands (1866); Lectures and Speeches (1866); The Mission of Great Suffering (1867): Prayers and Meditations from the Psalms (New York, 1869); Sanskrit Handbook (London, 1874). He founded and edited a number of periodicals for the promotion of his plans, of which the most important were The Christian Citizen, devoted to "peace, freedom, temperance, and every good cause" (Worcester, Mass., 1844–51), and Bonds of Brotherhood (London, 1846–68),

Bibliography: C. Northend, Elihu Burritt; Sketch of his Life and Labors, New York, 1882.

« Burrell, David James Burritt, Elihu Burroughes (Burroughs), Jeremiah »
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