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Thursday, April 8, 2010

Finley, Robert 1772-1817

The Rev. Dr. Robert Finley was born at Princeton, N. J., in 1772. He was graduated at the College of New Jersey (later Princeton) in 1787 and, by the advice of Dr. Witherspoon, was appointed teacher of the Grammar School connected with the college. After remaining in this situation some time, he took charge of an academy at Allentown, N. J. In 1791 he moved to Charleston, S. C., and became Principal of an academy in that city. Having determined to devote himself to the ministry, Mr. Finley returned to Princeton and again conducted the Grammar School but was soon appointed Tutor in the college and served in that capacity from 1793 to 1795. On September 16, 1794, he was licensed to preach the gospel by the Presbytery of New Brunswick, and on June 16 was ordained and installed pastor of the Presbyterian Church at Baskingridge, N. J., where he also conducted a school. About this time Rev. Finley conceived the idea of African Colonization, and he may be considered as the founder of the American Colonization Society. In 1817 he was elected to the Presidency of the University of Georgia, but he had hardly entered upon the duties of his new position when disease seized him, and he died, October 2, 1817. He published several sermons.

FINLEY, Robert, clergyman, born in Princeton, New Jersey, in 1772; died in Athens, Georgia, 3 October 1817. His father, James Finley, came to this country from Scotland in 1769. Robert was graduated at Princeton in 1787, and taught until 1793, when he became a tutor in the College, studying theology at the same time. He was licensed to preach on 16 September 1794, and on 16 June 1795, was ordained pastor of the Presbyterian Church at Baskingridge, New Jersey, where he also conducted a successful school. In 1815 he suggested the formation of Bible classes throughout the church, and his plan was recommended by the general assembly, He had been for some time interested in plans for improving the condition of the free Negroes, and, having conversed and corresponded with many prominent men in regard to the colonization scheme, went to Washington in 1816 to secure for it government sanction. The result of his efforts was the formation, on 28 December 1816, of the American Colonization Society, and in January 1817, he established an auxiliary society in New Jersey.
In July 1817, he became president of Franklin College, Athens, Georgia He was a trustee of Princeton from 1806 till he resigned, in 1817, on his departure for Georgia, and, in accepting his resignation, the College gave him the degree of D.D. Dr. Finley was a man of decision and energy, and held high rank as a preacher. Besides several sermons, he published "Thoughts on the Colonization of the Free Blacks," a pamphlet that had much to do with awakening public attention to his enterprise (1816).

His son, Robert Smith Finley, clergyman, born in Baskingridge, New Jersey, 9 May 1804; died in Talladega, Ala., 2 July 1860, was graduated at Princeton in 1821, studied law, and was admitted to the bar in Cincinnati, but abandoned his profession for the ministry, and was ordained as a Presbyterian clergyman in 1842. He was for some time a missionary among the slaves near Natchez, Miss., and edited for six years, in St. Louis, the "Liberian Advocate," a journal devoted to his father's scheme of colonization. He was pastor at Metuchen, New Jersey, in 1850'8, and in the latter year became principal of the Presbyterian female institute at Talladega, Ala.

Annals of the American Pulpit, Volume 4 - 1860 (page 126)

Memoirs of the Rev. Robert Finley, D.D.: Late Pastor of The Presbyterian Congregation at Basking Ridge New-Jersey, and President of Franklin College, Located at Athens, in the State of Georgia. With Brief Sketches of Some of His Cotemporaries, and Numerous Notes (1819) By Isaac Van Arsdale Brown

Memoirs of the Rev. Robert Finley, D. D. (1819) - Brown, Isaac V. (Isaac Van Arsdale), 1784-1861

Biography of the Rev. Robert Finley, D. D., of Basking Ridge N. J. : with an account of his agency as the author of the American Colonization Society; also a sketch of the slave trade; a view of our national policy and that of Great Britain towards Liberia and Africa. With an appendix. (1857) - Brown, Isaac V. (Isaac Van Arsdale), 1784-1861

The New Jersey preacher; or, Sermons on plain & practical subjects (Volume 1) - Woodhull, George S. (George Spafford), 1773-1834
Sermon by Robert Finley: The Disciples of Christ, The Light of the World, Matthew 5:14 - (page 131)
Sermon by Robert Finley: The Benefits Resulting from Being Found in Christ, Philippians 3:9 (page 379)

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