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Hobart, John Henry

HOBART, JOHN HENRY (1775-1830), American Protestant Episcopal bishop, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on the 14th of September 1775, being fifth in direct descent from Edmund Hobart, a founder of Hingham, Massachusetts. He was educated at the Philadelphia Latin School, the College of Philadelphia (now the University of Pennsylvania), and Princeton, where he graduated in 1793. After studying theology under Bishop William White at Philadelphia, he was ordained deacon in 1 798, and priest two years later. He was elected assistant bishop of New York, with the right of succession, in 1 8 1 1 , and was acting diocesan from that date because of the ill-health of Bishop Benjamin Moore, whom he formally succeeded on the latter's death in February 1816. He was one of the founders of the General Theological Seminary, became its professor of pastoral theology in 1821, and as bishop was its governor. In his zeal for the historic episcopacy he published in 1807 An Apology for Apostolic Order and its Advocates, a series of letters to Rev. John M. Mason, who, in The Christian's Magazine, of which he was editor, had attacked the Episcopacy in general and in particular Hobart's Collection of Essays on the Subject of Episcopacy ( 1 806) . Hobart's zeal for the General Seminary and the General Convention led him to oppose the plan of Philander Chase, bishop of Ohio, for an Episcopal seminary in that diocese; but the Ohio seminary was made directly responsible to the House of Bishops, and Hobart approved the plan. His strong opposition to " dissenting churches " was nowhere so clearly shown as in a pamphlet published in 1816 to dissuade all Episcopalians from joining the American Bible Society, which he thought the Protestant Episcopal Church had not the numerical or the financial strength to control. In 1818, to counterbalance the influence of the Bible Society and especially of Scott's Commentaries, he began to edit with selected notes the Family Bible of the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge. He delivered episcopal charges to the clergy of Connecticut and New York entitled The Churchman (1819) and The High Churchman Vindicated (1826), in which he accepted the name " high churchman," and stated and explained his principles " in distinction from the corruptions of the Church of Rome and from the Errors of Certain Protestant Sects." He exerted himself greatly in building up his diocese, attempting to make an annual visit to every parish. His failing health led him to visit Europe in 1823-1825. Upon his return he preached a characteristic sermon entitled The United Stales of America compared with some European Countries, particularly England (published 1826), in which, although there was some praise for the English church, he so boldly criticized the establishment, state patronage, cabinet appointment of bishops, lax discipline, and the low requirements of theological education, as to rouse much hostility in England, where he had been highly praised for two volumes of Sermons on the Principal Events and Truths of Redemption ( 1 824) . He died at Auburn, New York , on the 12th of September 1830. He was able, impetuous, frank, perfectly fearless in controversy, a speaker and preacher of much eloquence, a supporter of missions to the Oneida Indians in his diocese, and the compiler of the following devotional works: A Companion for the Altar (1804), Festivals and Fasts (1804), A Companion to the Book of Common Prayer (1805), and A Clergyman's Companion (1805).

See Memorial of Bishop Hobart, containing a Memoir (New York, 1831); John McVickar, The Early Life and Professional Years of Bishop Hobart (New York, 1834), and The Closing Years of Bishop Hobart (New York, 1836).

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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