Hopkins, Samuel. Correspondence

Collection History

Please note that as of January 2022, the Samuel Hopkins correspondence, 1766-1803, and all future digital collections are now hosted on the library's new digital archive.

Rev. 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 the Reverend 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.

The digital collections below include three items of correspondence from Rev. Hopkinson, two of them addressed to Mr. Ebenezer Little, a family friend in Newbury, from 1766-1767, and the third addressed to a "Mr. Fuller" in Newport in 1803.

For additional information please see the finding aid.


Digital Materials

Letter to Little, 1766

This document comprises the first of two letters to a Mr. Ebenezer Little in Newbury, Mass. from Rev. Samuel Hopkins. Rev. Hopkins thanks Mr. Little for hosting him and his family during his travels. Hopkins also states that he would like to live in Newbury were it not for his family obligations. People mentioned in the letter by Rev. Hopkins include, Mr. Little, Mrs. Little, their daughter, and a "Miss E. West" who was entrusted with delivery of the letter.

Letter to Little, 1767

In this second letter from Rev. Hopkins to Mr. Ebenezer Little, he thanks Little again for his hospitality, implying that Hopkins visited Little more than once. Rev. Hopkins makes mention of Mr. Little, Mrs. Little, their daughter, and Mr. Parsons, a mutual acquaintance.

Letter to Fuller, 1803

This letter of October 18, 1803, addressed to "Mr. Fuller" in Newport, is presumed to have been dictated by Hopkins to some unnamed scribe, due to the difference in handwriting from the other two letters in this collection. It is likely that Rev. Hopkins used a scribe by reason of his failing health, which 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. Due to the notes, and edits made to the letter, as well as being unsigned, it is assumed that this is a draft.