Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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BETHUNE, George Washington, clergyman, born in New York city in March 1805; died in Florence, Italy, 27 April 1862. His parents were distinguished for devout Christianity and for charitable deeds. His father, Divie Bethune, was an eminent merchant, well known as a philanthropist. He was graduated at Dickinson College, Carlisle, Pennsylvania, m 1822, studied theology at Princeton, and after completing his course was ordained as a minister in the Presbyterian Church in 1825. He accepted an appointment as chaplain to seamen in the port of Savannah, but in 1826 returned to the north and transferred his ecclesiastical allegiance to the Reformed Dutch Church, settling soon after at Rhinebeck, New York, where he remained four years, when he was called to the pastorate of the first Reformed Dutch Church in Utica. In 1834 his reputation as an eloquent preacher and an efficient pastor led to an invitation from a Reformed Dutch Church in Philadelphia. He remained in that city till 1848. his character as a preacher and scholar steadily growing, and then became pastor of the newly organized "Reformed Dutch Church on the Heights" in Brooklyn, New York For eleven years he continued in the pastorate of this Church, but in 1859 impaired health led him to resign and visit Italy. In Rome he sometimes preached in the American chapel, at that time the only Protestant place of worship in the city. He returned in 1860 with improved health, and was for some months associate pastor of a Reformed Dutch Church in New York city; but, his health again becoming impaired, he returned to Italy in the summer of 1861, and, after some months' residence in Florence, died from apoplexy. Dr. Bethune, though best remembered by his literary work, exercised a wide influence as a clergyman and a citizen. One of his latest public efforts before leaving his native city for his last voyage to Europe was an address delivered at the great Massachusetts meeting in Union square, New York, 20 April 1861, in which with extraordinary fire and eloquence he urged the duty of patriotism in the trying crisis that then threatened the nation. A memoir by A. R. Van Nest, died D., was published in 1867. Dr. Bethune was an accomplished student of English literature, and distinguished himself as a writer and editor. He published an excellent edition of the " British Female Poets, with Biographical and Critical Notices" (Philadelphia, 1848); and Izaak Walton's " Complete Angler," for which last he was peculiarly qualified by his fondness for fishing. Among his original works are " Lays of Love and Faith" (Philadelphia, 1847); "Orations and Discourses" (1850) ; "Memoirs of Joanna Bethune" (New York, 1863); "Fruits of the Spirit," a volume of sermons; and two smaller works, "Early Lost, Early Saved," and " The History of a Penitent."
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