Famous U.U.s

Famous Unitarian Universalists

Five United States presidents were Unitarians: John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, John Quincy Adams, Millard Fillmore and William Taft. While he did not specifically identify with any organized religion, Abraham Lincoln had Universalist leanings.

Perhaps you’ve heard of some of these other famous Unitarian Universalists:

  • Horatio Alger (1832-1899), writer of rags-to-riches books for boys.
  • Louisa May Alcott (1832-1888), author of Little Women and other books.
  • Tom Andrews, U.S. Representative from Maine.
  • Susan B. Anthony (1820-1906), organizer of the women’s suffrage movement.
  • George Bancroft (1800-1891), founder of the U.S. Naval Academy.
  • Adin Ballou (1803-1890), critic of the injustices of capitalism.
  • P.T. Barnum (1810-1891), well-known showman, owner of the Barnum and Bailey Circus, and a founder of Tufts University.
  • Bela Bartok (1881-1945), Hungarian composer.
  • Clara Barton (1821-1912), founder of the American Red Cross.
  • Alexander Graham Bell (1847-1922), inventor of the telephone; founder of Bell Telephone Company.
  • Henry Bergh (1811-1888), a founder of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children.
  • Nathaniel Bowditch (1773-1838), mathematician, navigator, astronomer.
  • Ray Bradbury, science fiction writer.
  • William Cullen Bryant (1794-1878), author and newspaper editor.
  • Charles Bulfinch (1763-1844), architect of the United States Capitol building.
  • Luther Burbank (1849-1926), American botanist of the early 20th century.
  • Robert Burns (1759-1796), Scottish poet and song writer.
  • William Ellerly Channing (1780-1842), abolitionist, founder of Unitarianism in America.
  • William Cohen, U.S. Senator from Maine.
  • Nathaniel Currier (1813-1888), lithographer, partner of James Merritt Ives.
  • e.e. Cummings (1894-1962), 20th century American poet, noted for his unorthodox style and technique.
  • Charles Darwin (1809-1882), scientist and evolutionist, author of Origin of the Species.
  • Charles Dickens (1812-1870), English novelist.
  • Dorothea Dix (1802-1887), crusader for the reform of institutions for the mentally ill.
  • Don Edwards, U.S. Representative from California since 1965.
  • Charles William Eliot (1834-1926), president of Harvard, editor of the Harvard Classics.
  • Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882), Unitarian minister, philosopher, essayist.
  • Edward Everett (1794-1865), president of Harvard, governor of Massachusetts, UU minister.
  • Fannie Farmer (1857-1915), cooking expert.
  • Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790), scientist, writer, statesman, printer.
  • Maraget Fuller (1810-1850), a feminist before her time. Leading figure in the Transcendentalist movement and an editor of The Dial, along with Ralph Waldo Emerson.
  • William Lloyd Garrison (1805-1879), abolitionist, editor of The Liberator.
  • Horace Greeley (1811-1872), journalist, politician, editor and owner of the New York Tribune, champion of labor unions and cooperatives.
  • Edward Everett Hale (1822-1909), Unitarian minister and author of The Man Without a Country.
  • Andrew Hallidie (1836-1900), inventor of the cable car.
  • Bret Harte (1836-1902), writer, author of The Luck of Roaring Camp.
  • Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-1864), 19th century American novelist, author of The Scarlet Letter.
  • James Haynes Holmes (1879-1964), co-founder of the American Civil Liberties Union.
  • Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. (1841-1935), lawyer and member of the U.S. Supreme Court, 1902-32.
  • Julia Ward Howe (1819-1910), composer of Battle Hymn of the Republic.
  • Samuel Gridley Howe (1801-1876), pioneer in working with the deaf and blind.
  • Abner Kneeland (1774-1844), advocate of land reform, public education and birth control.
  • Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882), poet, author of Paul Revere’s Ride.
  • James Russell Lowell (1819-1891), noted 19th century poet, anti-slavery leader, and Unitarian minister.
  • Horace Mann (1796-1859), leader in the public school movement, founder of the first public school in America in Lexington, Mass., President of Antioch College, U.S. Congressman.
  • John Marshall (1755-1835), Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court.
  • Thomas Masaryk (1850-1937), the first president of Czechoslovakia (1920), proponent of democracy and social justice.
  • Herman Melville (1819-1891), writer, author of Moby Dick.
  • Samuel Morse (1791-1872), inventor of the telegraph and Morse Code.
  • Florence Nightingale (1820-1910), British nurse and hospital reformer.
  • Thomas Paine (1737-1809), editor and publisher of Common Sense.
  • Theodore Parker (1810-1860), a renegade Unitarian minister of the mid-19th century and a leading figure of the Abolitionist movement in the Boston area.
  • Linus Pauling, chemist, won Nobel Peace Prize, 1962.
  • Beatrix Potter (1866-1943), author of Peter Rabbit and other children’s stories.
  • Joseph Priestly (1733-1804), discoverer of oxygen, Unitarian minister.
  • Elliot Richardson, former Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare, and Attorney General (1973).
  • Christopher Reeve (1952-2004), actor best known for his role as Superman and activist who raised awareness and funds for spinal cord injury research.
  • Paul Revere (1735-1818), silversmith and patriot.
  • Benjamin Rush (1745-1813), signer of the Declaration of Independence; physician, considered to be the “Father of American Psychiatry”.
  • Carl Sandberg (1878-1967), American poet, won Pulitzer Prize for his biography of Abraham Lincoln.
  • Ted Sorenson, speechwriter and aide to John F. Kennedy.
  • Charles Steinmetz (1865-1923), electrical engineer, holder of 200 patents, known for his theoretical studies of alternating current.
  • Adlai Stevenson (1900-1965), Governor of Illinois, candidate for President, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N.
  • George Stephenson (1781-1848), English engineer, invented the first locomotive.
  • Gilbert Charles Stuart (1755-1828), artist, best known for his portrait of George Washington.
  • Sylvanus Thayer (1785-1872), engineer, founded U.S. Military Academy.
  • Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862), essayist and naturalist, author of Walden Pond.
  • Hendrik Wilhem Van Loon (1882-1944), historian and author
  • Kurt Vonnegut, writer, author of Slaugherhouse Five.
  • Daniel Webster (1782-1852), orator, U.S. Senator, Secretary of State, presidential candidate.
  • Josiah Wedgwood (1730-1795), English potter, founder of Wedgwood Pottery.
  • Frank Lloyd Wright (1869-1959), architect.
  • Owen D. Young (1874-1962), Chairman of General Electric Company.
  • Whitney Young (1921-1971), head of the Urban League.

Used with permission from 100 Questions That Non-Members Ask About Unitarian Universalism by John Sias & Steve Eddington. Copyright © 1994-2000 by the Unitarian-Universalist Church of Nashua, New Hampshire. All rights reserved.

100 Questions That Non-Members Ask About Unitarian Universalism is available for purchase through the Unitarian Universalist Association Bookstore