Way Back When … 1817
Timothy Dwight School in Fairfield is named for a local theologian who lived, worked and died in Connecticut 200 years ago. Timothy Dwight was also an educator and poet, and was even the eighth president of Yale University. He died on Jan. 11, 1817.
According to the Connecticut History website, “Dwight entered Yale at age 13 and upon graduation served as the rector for the Hopkins Grammar School before returning to Yale as a tutor. It was while at Yale that Dwight, along with Joel Barlow, David Humphreys, and John Trumbull — the ‘Hartford Wits’ — began using poetry and satire to push at conventions and explore the ideas of a new American nation. A supporter of the Revolutionary War, but unable to fight as an ordained minister, Dwight enlisted as chaplain to the First Connecticut Brigade of the Continental army where he used his sermons and self-composed war songs — most notably Columbia — to inspire the troops.”
“Dwight, the grandson of Jonathan Edwards, preached New Light Calvinism but as a scholar he also believed in the advancement of science. He saw no conflict between the two and viewed the ‘study of nature as an exploration of the nature of God.’ This contrary view to the dogma of the time gained Dwight national recognition as a preacher in Fairfield.” He was a minister at Greenfield Hill Congregational Church and also founded Greenfield Academy, a prestigious school that was later renamed Dwight School.
The Fairfield Museum & History Center and Museum Shop, located at 370 Beach Road, is open seven days a week, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Members of the museum and children under 5 are admitted free. For more information, call 203-259-1598 or visit Fairfieldhistory.org.