Thomas Starr King
Our Fellowship is named to honor the memory of Rev. Thomas Starr King (1824 - 1864). He became an abolitionist and a well-known speaker during his eleven-year Unitarian ministry in Boston.
Most of King’s summers, away from the pulpit, were spent in New Hampshire’s White Mountains. We know he ascended Mt. Washington at least 7 times over the years. His experiences in the White Mountains led King to write The White Hills, published in 1859, a book filled with observations of nature and of the breathtaking landscapes he encountered. The book was a guide not only to these mountains and their surroundings, but also to the lengthy travel involved to reach those destinations in the mid 1800’s. He highly recommended staying a few days in Plymouth for what the town offered before proceeding north. In particular King wrote about the stately display of elm trees in Plymouth. One of these trees became known as the Starr King Elm because he often enjoyed sitting beneath it. The tree stood next to what is now The Flying Monkey. King also wrote in his book of the views from Plymouth Mountain, its peak attainable by horse or by wagon from the Pemigewasset Hotel in Plymouth.
Starr King (“Starr” coming from his mother’s last name) was considered one of the most outstanding orators of his day. With a sharp mind, a quick wit, and a warm personal nature that attracted folks to what he had to say, Starr made an extraordinary impact at a crucial time in our Nation’s history, leading up to, and during the Civil War.
In 1860 King began a Unitarian ministry in San Francisco. He would live only four more years, dying at the young age of 39. During those four years he:
- Kept California in the Union, free of slavery, as acknowledged by President Abraham Lincoln
- Raised $1,235,000, an extraordinary sum at the time, for soldiers wounded during
the Civil War
- Alerted the country of the need to save Yosemite
An account of King’s personal life, his accomplishments for our Nation during his brief time in California, and the impact of his book The White Hills, is available in here. Included in this document are King’s thoughts relating to his initial experience as a Universalist and then as a Unitarian.