• Date of Birth: April 11, 1833
  • Born City: Suffolk County, Boston
  • Born State/Country: MA
  • Parents: James Morris and Mary Elizabeth Knowlton W.
  • Date of Death: January 25, 1920
  • Death City: New York City
  • Death State/Country: NY
  • Married: Mary Eliza Bartlett, 1 May 1855
  • Education:

    Boston Latin School, 1848; A.B., Yale, 1853; Ph. D. 1861. 

  • Dissertation:

    "Brevis Vita, Ars Longa" (Yale, 1861).

  • Professional Experience:

    Principal’s assistant, Worcester Classical and English High School, Worcester, MA, 1853-4; rector, Hopkins Grammar School, New Haven, CT, 1854-64; minister, North Congregational Church, Lynn, MA, 1865-75; principal, Williston Seminary, Easthampton, MA, 1876-8; pastor, First Congregational Church, Newark, NJ, 1879-85; pastor, Trinity Congregational Church, New York City, NY, 1886-91; staff writer for The Outlook and contributing editor to The Homiletic Review.

  • Publications:

    Handbook of Exercises and Reading Lessons for Beginners in Latin (Boston: James Munroe and Company, 1860); First Lessons in Greek: The Beginner’s Companion-Book to Hadley’s Greek Grammar (New York: D. Appleton & Co., 1862, 1863, 1866, 1872, 1881); Handbook of Exercises and Reading Lessons for Beginners in Latin (New Haven: H.C. Peck, 1865); Parallel Rules of Greek and Latin Syntax for Use in Classical Schools (Boston: Ginn & Co., 1877); A Lexicon Abridged from Liddell and Scott’s Greek-English Lexicon (New York: American Book Co., 1871, 1906); Select Orations of Lysias (Boston: Ginn Brothers, 1875, 1876, 1881, 1892); A Lexicon Abridged from Liddell and Scott’s Greek-English Lexicon (New York: Harper & Bros., 1878, 1881, 1883, 1884, 1887, 1891, 1899); Auxilia Vergiliana or First Steps in Latin Prosody (Boston: Ginn and Heath, 1879, 1883); Six Week’s Preparation for Reading Caesar Adapted to Allen & Greenough’s, Gildersleeve’s and Harkness’s Greek Grammars (Boston: Ginn & Co., 1879, 1884, 1886, 1887, 1889, 1892); A Lexicon Abridged from Liddell and Scott’s Greek-English Lexicon (Boston: Ginn & Co., 1884, 1885, 1887); Three Months Preparation for Reading Xenophon Adapted to be Used in Connection with Hadley and Allen’s, and Goodwin’s Grammar (New York: D. Appleton & Co., 1887, 1889).

  • Notes:

    Whiton’s family goes back on his father’s side to James Whiton, who settled in Hingham, MA in 1647, and on his mother’s side to John Alden (c.1599-1687). He was valedictorian of his class at Boston Latin School and at Yale he won several awards including the Townsend Premium for English Composition. His Latin oration “Roma Disrepta” was one of the twelve presented at the Junior Exhibition in May, 1852. As salutatorian he addressed the class of 1853 in Latin and was admitted into Phi Beta Kappa. For several years Whiton worked to earn his doctorate degree at Yale. He studied Sanskrit two hours a week with Professor William D. Whitney and took final examinations in Latin, Greek, German and Sanskrit. His dissertation, written in Latin “embellished the theme with six clearly, boldly and symmetrically written pages” and showed that he had “assimilated the precise style of Latin prose writers, especially of Cicero and that he had as working model several distinguished American teachers of the classics” (Rosenberg 393). In 1861 Whiton, along with two other young men earned the first doctorates ever awarded in the U.S. His was the first in classics.

    During these years Whiton worked on two textbooks: Handbook of Exercises and Reading Lessons for Beginners in Latin (1860) which he dedicated to Epes Sargent Dixwell (1807-1899), teacher, submaster and head of the Boston Latin School and First Lessons in Greek (1862). He had been licensed to preach 25 November 1859 by the New Haven West Association, and over time his interest in religion and the pulpit drew him away from a career in classroom. However he continued to prepare textbooks for many years. In 1888 he established the Whiton Prize at Talladega College, a school founded with the support of the Congregational Church’s American Missionary Association for black students in Alabama in 1867. Sums of five and ten dollars were awarded each spring to the best essays on a theme from history, literature or philosophy. In 1891 after retiring from Trinity, Dr. Whiton spent his time lecturing and adding to the many works he published on religion which included books such as Miracles and Supernatural Religion (New York: Sturgis & Walton, 1903) and Getting Together (New York: Sturgis & Walton, 1913). From 1898 to 1901 he ministered to a small rural congregation in Haworth, NJ, and after helping to establish the New York State Conference of Religion in 1899, chaired the group for many years. Dr. Whiton was buried in Grove Street Cemetery, New Haven, CT.

  • Sources:

    n.a, Obituary Record of Graduates of Yale College: Deceased During the Year Ending July 21, 1920 (New Haven: Tuttle, Morehouse & Taylor Co., 1921): 1330-32. n.a., “Commencement Week: Yale College Commencement,” New York Times 30(July 1853): 3. n.a., “Yale College,” New York Times 28 (July 1861): 3. Rosenberg, Ralph, “The First American Doctor of Philosophy Degree: A Centennial Salute to Yale, 1861-1961,” Journal of Higher Education 32 (October, 1961): 387-94.; James Morris Whiton Papers, Burke Library, Union Theological Seminary, Columbia Universit ; Mendenhall, Thomas, “The First Boat Race,” Yale Alumni Magazine (March, 1993)


  • Author: Michele Valerie Ronnick