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History of Iowa From the Earliest Times to the Beginning of the Twentieth Century/4/Leonard Whitney

LEONARD WHITNEY, pioneer clergyman, was born at Waterbury, Vermont, October 23, 1811. The district school and an academy furnished his early education, as he was of adventurous spirit and declined his father’s offer of a college course. Later he attended school at Hinesbury, studied law and was admitted to the bar in 1835. While visiting a Baptist clergyman, Rev. William Arthur (father of the future President), he began preparing for the ministry and preached at various places. While at Canandaigus, New York, he underwent a change in his religious belief, established a free church and later became a Unitarian. In 1853 he accepted a call to the first Unitarian church in the State of Iowa at Keokuk, where he drew together a remarkable congregation, among whom were Samuel F. Miller, later Judge of the United States Supreme Court and George W. McCrary, afterwards Secretary of War in President Hayes’ Cabinet. Mr. Whitney was an outspoken antislavery man from the first and was fearless in the pulpit and on the platform. When the Civil War began he volunteered in the service and was appointed chaplain in the Eleventh Illinois Cavalry, of which Robert G. Ingersoll was colonel. Mr. Whitney was untiring in his efforts to alleviate suffering and had great moral influence with the men in his care. After the Battle of Shiloh he overexerted himself in ministering to the wounded and returning to Keokuk, died on the 12th of June, 1862. Judge Miller has said of him: “He was a true man, with a noble intellect and died a martyr to his sense of duty.”