Hopkins, Samuel. Correspondence

Collection History

Samuel Hopkins (1721-1803) was a Congregational minister in the New England area. Born in Connecticut he was educated at Yale, and later studied under Johnathan Edwards (1703-1758). Hopkins preached in Sheffield (now Great Barrington) from 1743-1769, until a difference in theology between Hopkins and his congregation forced him to leave Sheffield. Hopkins then traveled to Newport Rhode Island, where he preached from 1770-1803, when he died. During the Revolutionary War, Hopkins fled Newport, and continued to preach at Newburyport in Massachusetts, as well as Canterbury and Stamford Connecticut (1776-1780). Hopkins is an important figure in Congregationalism, because of the school of theological thought that bears his name, Hopkinsianism, sometimes called New Divinity. Hopkins is also prominent as an early abolitionist, being one of the first Congregationalist ministers to denounce slavery, despite owning slaves at one time in his life.

For more information on this collection please consult the finding aid.


Digital Materials

Letter to Little, 1766

The first of two letters to a Mr. Little in Newbury, Boston, from Samuel Hopkins. This letter thanks Mr. Little for letting Hopkins stay with him and his family on his travels. It also states that Hopkins wishes to live in Newbury, if not for his family. People mentioned in the letter by Hopkins include, Mr. Little, Mrs. Little, their daughter, and a Mifs E. West who was entrusted with delivery of the letter.

Letter to Little, 1767

The second letter from Hopkins to Little. This letter thanks Little again for his hospitality for allowing Hopkins to stay with him, and his family on his travels, implying that Hopkins visited Little more than once. Hopkins in the letter mentions the following people, Mr. Little, Mrs. Little, their daughter, and Mr. Parsons, a mutual acquaintance. Mr. Little's first name is also given on the cover of the letter as Ebenezer.

Letter to Fuller, 1803

This letter is presumed to have been dictated by Hopkins to some unnamed scribe, due to the radical difference in handwriting from the other two letters in this collection. It is likely that he used a scribe for health reasons that he mentions briefly in the opening of the letter. The rest of the letter is a theological argument on how to determine what a true Christian is, how to think about faith, and how an individual may go to heaven. From the tone it can be assumed that Fuller is a minister, or pastor, like Hopkins. Due to the notes, and edits made to the letter, as well as being unsigned, it is assumed that this is a draft.

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