Timothy Dwight

Detail from the frontispiece portrait of Timothy Dwight in Theology Explained and Defended in a Series of Sermons by Timothy Dwight, 1881

Timothy Dwight (1752-1817)

Timothy Dwight was a prominent New England theologian, educator, and poet. Born in Northampton, Massachusetts, in 1752, Dwight enrolled in Yale at age 13 and graduated in 1769. Among his many professional achievements was the founding of a successful school in Greenfield Hill, Connecticut, in 1783. He became pastor of the Congregational Church there and, two years later, published The Conquest of Canaan—believed to be the first epic poem produced in America. He became the eighth president of Yale in 1795, serving until 1817. While president, Dwight allowed for greater faculty participation in college government, a decision that ultimately helped modernize and enhance the relevancy of the curriculum offered to future generations of Yale students.

More on Timothy Dwight from the CT Digital Archive

Browse more interactive content on the CT Digital Archive website.

Read More

Learn More


“Yale University,” 2016. Link.


Clark, Jonathan, and R. Packard. “Broadside - The First Great Western Empire: Or, the United States of America,” 1812. Library of Congress, Rare Book And Special Collections Division. Link.
Yale University, Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library. “Guide to the Dwight and Ferris Family Papers,” 2013. Link.
Yale University, Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library. “Guide to the Dwight Family Papers,” 2016. Link.
Connecticut Digital Archive. “Timothy Dwight Collection,” n.d. Link.


Silliman, Benjamin. “A Sketch of the Life and Character of President Dwight, Delivered as an Eulogium, in New Haven, February 12th, 1817 Before the Academic Body, of Yale College, Composed of the Senatus Academicus, Faculty and Students,” 1817.
Dwight, Timothy. Beauties of Dwight; or, Dr. Dwight’s System of Theology, Abridged: With a Sketch of His Life: A Portrait: And an Original Essay on His Writings; in Which His Religious Views Are Compared with Those of Other Distinguished Divines of the Trans-Atlantic Empire. London: Francis Westley, 1823. Link.
Berk, Stephen E. Calvinism Versus Democracy; Timothy Dwight and the Origins of American Evangelical Orthodoxy. Hamden, CT: Archon Books, 1974.
Lehman, Eric D., and Amy Nawrocki. Literary Connecticut: The Hartford Wits, Mark Twain and the New Millennium. Charleston, SC: The History Press, 2014.
Dwight, Timothy. The Conquest of Canaan a Poem in Eleven Books. Hartford, CT: Elisha Babcock, 1785. Link.
Dwight, Timothy. Theology Explained and Defended in a Series of Sermons. Vol. 1. 5 vols. Middletown, CT: Clark and Lyman, 1818. Link.
Silverman, Kenneth. Timothy Dwight. New York, NY: Twayne Publishers, 1969.
Brunjes, Ann. “Timothy Dwight Encounters the Indian: Greenfield Hill and Travels Through New York and New England.” In Sovereignty, Separatism, and Survivance: Ideological Encounters in the Literature of Native North America. Newcastle upon Tyne, UK: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2009.
Cuningham, Charles E. Timothy Dwight, 1752-1817, a Biography. New York: The Macmillan Company, 1942.