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John Seely Hart: Wikis


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Engraving of John Seely Hart with his signature.

John Hart (1810 – 1877) was an American author and educator.





Professor Hart was born in Old Stockbridge, Berkshire County, Massachusetts on January 28, 1810. When he was two years old, his father, with a number of other heads of families, removed to Pennsylvania and settled in Providence township, on the Lackawanna River, but in 1823, removed to Laurel Run, in the Wyoming Valley, about two miles from Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania.


His health in early youth was delicate, and his physical strength small. He completed preparatory studies at Wilkes-Barre Academy, and entered the College of New Jersey at Princeton, (now Princeton University), in 1827, and was graduated in 1830, with the highest honors of his class. During the year following his graduation, he taught, as Principal of an Academy at Natchez, Mississippi, and in 1831 returned to Princeton and entered the Theological Seminary.

Presbyterian ministry

He spent three years there, and was regularly graduated in 1834. During the last two years of his course, he filled the position of Tutor in the college. In 1834 he was elected Adjunct Professor of Ancient Languages in Princeton College, and filled that chair two years.

Professor Hart was licensed to preach the Gospel by the Presbytery of New Brunswick, August 4, 1835, but having determined, after some years, to devote his life to literary and educational pursuits, his license was, at his own request, withdrawn by the Presbytery, October 19, 1842.

Educational responsibilities

In 1836, he purchased Edgehill School in Princeton, from Professor E. C. Wines, and resigned his Professorship in the College. He retained the charge of Edgehill School until 1842, when he was selected Principal of Central High School (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania), as well as Professor of Moral, Mental and Political Science[1]. He found this institution in a state of feebleness and placed it on a solid foundation of discipline, accomplishments and popular confidence —making it a representative American institution.

In 1848 he received the degree of LL.D. from the University of Miami. He continued to be Principal of Central High School until 29 October 1858[1], when he resigned in order to become Editor of the periodicals published by the American Sunday School Union, and in this connection he began the Sunday-school Times.

In 1862 he was elected Principal of the New Jersey State Normal School (now The College of New Jersey at Trenton), and held that position with distinguished usefulness and success until February 1871. From 1864 to 1870 he also gave courses of lectures on English Literature in Princeton College. In 1872 he was elected Professor of Belles Lettres and English Literature in Princeton College, which chair he filled two years, returning near the end of 1874 to Philadelphia, where he resided until his death, engaged in literary pursuits. During the months preceding his last illness, he had been delivering a course of popular and instructive lectures on the works of Shakespeare.


About two months before his death, he suffered a severe fall upon an icy pavement in Chestnut Street, breaking his hip-bone and inflicting internal injuries. After much severe suffering, he died in Philadelphia, March 26, 1877, at the age of sixty-eight. Prof. Hart was a man of quiet and retiring manners, yet social and sunny in his temperament, an enthusiast in the cause of education, a devoted Sabbath-school worker, of elegant culture, accurate and wide scholarship, author of many volumes, and possessing great force and earnestness of mind. But above all, he was an humble, consistent and devout Christian, always seeking, like his Master, to do good.


He wrote an immense number of books related to grammar and biography, including:


This article incorporates text from Necrological Reports and Annual Proceedings of the Alumni Association of Princeton Theological Seminary. Volume I, 1875-1889. Princeton: C. S. Robinson & Co., University Printers, 1891. See pages 29-30. At Google Books.

  • Barnard, Henry, ed. "John S. Hart, Principal of the Philadelphia High School." Reprinted in The American Journal of Education vol. 5. Hartford, Conn.: F.C. Brownell, 1858. Pages 91-106. At Google Books.
  • Brown, John Howard, ed. The Twentieth Century Biographical Dictionary of Notable Americans, "Hart, John Seely." Boston: The Biographical Society, 1904. At Google Books.
  • Gilman, Daniel Coit, ed. The New International Encyclopædia, "Hart, John Seeley." [sic] New York: Dodd, Mead, and Company, 1903. At Google Books.
  • M'Clintock, John & Strong, James. Cyclopædia of Biblical, Theological, and Ecclesiastical Literature, "Hart, John Seely." New York: Harper & Brothers, 1889. At Google Books.
  1. ^ a b The Board of Controllers. Annual Report of the Controllers of the Public Schools of the First School District of Pennsylvania. 39-41. Retrieved 2008-10-12. "The late Principal John S Hart LL D resigned October 29th 1858 and on the 17th of November the duties were assumed by the senior Professor William Vogdes LL D who continued as acting Principal until January 3rd 1859"  


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