1902 Encyclopedia > Timothy Flint

Timothy Flint
American clergyman and writer

TIMOTHY FLINT, (1780-1840), an American clergyman and writer, was born in Reading, Massachusetts, July 11, 1780. He graduated at Harvard College in the close of 1800. Settled as a Congregational minister in Lunenburg,. Massachusetts, he pursued scientific studies with interest ; and his labours in his laboratory seemed so strange to the people of that retired region, that some persons supposed and asserted that he was engaged in counterfeiting. This led to disagreeable complications, which resulted in his leaving his parish and becoming a missionary in the valley of the Mississippi. There could have been no discipline better adapted to correct his natural sensitiveness than his work at the West in those days, where he came into contact with many rough people and peculiar social habits. His observations on the manners and character of the settlers of the Ohio and Mississippi valleys were recorded in a very picturesque work called Recollections of Ten Years passed in the Valley of the Mississippi, Boston, 1826. This book passed to a second edition, and excited so much interest as to be translated into French as well as reprinted in England. Indeed, it was the first account of the Western States of America which brought to light the real life and character of the people. Flint had acquired this knowledge of the young communities of the West, not only by his journeys among them as an itinerant preacher, but also by having been for a short period teacher and farmer on the banks of the Mississippi and Red Bivers. The success which this work met with, together with the failing health of the writer, led him to relinquish his more active labours for literary pursuits, His subsequent publications were as follows :—Francis Berrian, or the Mexican Patriot, 1826,—a novel, the scene of which is laid in Mexico at the period of the revolution in which Iturbide was overthrown ; A Condensed Geography and History of the Western States in the Mississippi Valley, 2 vols. 8vo. Gincin., 1828; Arthur Clenning, a novel, 1828; George Mason, the Young Backwoodsman, a novel; Indian Wars in the West, 1833; Memoir of Daniel Boone, 1834. In addition to these works, Flint published several translations from the French, and essays in the London Athenaeum, the Western Review, and the New York Knickerbocker, of which last two magazines he was at different times editor. His style was vivid, plain, and forcible, and his matter in-teresting ; the spirit of his writings was always humane and genial ; the Quarterly Review, in a notice of his first book, says : " These pages reflect a sincere, humane, and liberal character, a warm and gentle heart, and hardly even a prejudice which is not amiable." He was very industrious, and had acquired such a power of abstraction that he prosecuted the labour of translating the Biographie Universelle in a room where other persons were engaged in work or conversation, being so absorbed in his work as to lose all consciousness of where he was or who was present. He died in Salem, August 16, 1840. His works on the Western States are still among the best we have on the subject.

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