Saturday, June 06, 2009

Famous UUs, Part Deux

If it is frustrating to see “Famous UUs” sometimes revered within our little denomination more for their fame itself than for the religious lessons they can help us remember, it is equally gratifying when one of them is honored outside the denomination for his or her forthrightly religious witness.

That’s why, this morning, I almost bounced with glee this morning when I sleepily turned to the editorial page of The New York Times and found an editorial tribute to the not-quite-so-famous-these-days Universalist and Unitarian minister Thomas Starr King, whose statue was removed from Statuary Hall in the US Capitol this week to make room for Ronald Reagan’s. An excerpt:

…King was a big deal in the 1800s, but hardly a Californian alive knows or cares. The vote in the California Legislature to replace his statue was all but unanimous.

…He was a Unitarian preacher, and an amazing one at that; spellbinding, said people who heard him. He spoke up for slaves, for the poor, for union members and the Chinese. Most memorably, he spoke up for the Union, roaming the state on exhausting lecture tours, campaigning for Abraham Lincoln and a Republican State Legislature, imploring California not to join the Confederacy. He succeeded, but he did not live to see the Union victory. He died of diphtheria in 1864, age 39.

“He saved California to the Union,” this paper wrote, quoting Gen. Winfield Scott.

…Here, then, a final toast to the worthy but obscure. To the frail patriot Thomas Starr King.


At July 12, 2009 at 11:42:00 PM EDT, Anonymous kim said...

Every other account I have ever read of Thomas Starr King said that he died of exhaustion.
He was small and had a history of being frail, I understand. But he must have had a mighty voice, in both senses.
Wouldn't it have made more sense to replace Junipero Serra with RR rather than King? (If we had to honor RR at all.... and what for?)


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