- CanProfLv 71 decade agoFavorite Answer
The son of Penelope Bethune (d. Dec 1819) and Thomas English (b. 1759 in Suffolk, MA d. Sep 6, 1839 in Boston, MA), George Bethune English was baptized on April 1, 1787 in Trinity Church as the oldest of four children. He completed Boston Public Latin School in 1797. He subsequently graduated from Harvard College in 1807, and received the highest academic award, the Bowdoin Prize for his dissertation, and then was subsequently awarded a Masters in theology in 1811. In 1805, English was made a member of the Hasty Pudding Club, for his skills as a poet. During his theology studies at Harvard, he began to doubt the truth of the Christian religion, which he critiqued in a book entitled The Grounds of Christianity Examined (Boston, 1813) that drew a great deal of attention at that time. On November 4, 1814, the Church of Christ in Cambridge, MA excommunicated him for this work. He wrote a second book "A Letter to the Reverend Mr. Cary," as a result of criticism of his first work and the controversy that it provoked. At this time he also published replies to the Unitarian leader William Ellery Channing's (1780-1842) "Two Sermons on Infidelity." Subsequently he edited a country newspaper, during which time he may have learned the Cherokee language. He was nominated by President Madison on February 27th, 1815and commissioned on March 1, 1815 as a second lieutenantin the United States Marine Corps during the War of 1812 and assigned to Marine Corps headquarters. He then sailed to the Mediterranean as a lieutenant of the U. S. Marine Corps. On his arrival in Egypt as among the first citizens of the United States known to have visited Egypt, he resigned his commission and joined Isma'il Pasha in an expedition against Sennaar in Africa in 1820, winning distinction as an officer of artillery. He published his Narrative of the Expedition to Dongola and Sennaar (London 1822) regarding his exploits. A colleague from Harvard, Edward Everett, published a rejoinder to English's book "The Grounds of Christianity Examined," to which English responded with his 1824 book "Five Smooth Stones out of the Brook." After his work for Isma'il Pasha, English worked in the Diplomatic Corps of the United States in the Levant region of the Ottoman Empire, where he may have worked to secure a trade agreement between the United States and the Ottoman Empire, which had trade valued at nearly $800,000 in 1822. In 1827, he returned to the United States and died in Washington, DC in 1828.
His works on religion appear to have been read by Thomas Jefferson who had a copy of his "The Grounds of Christianity Examined," and "Letter to the Reverend Mr. Cary." English was also referenced in a letter of March 10, 1823 indexed to English and written by John Adams to Jefferson that says, in part, "Mr. English a Bostonian has published a volume of his expedition with Ishmael Pashaw up the river Nile." This suggests that John Adams was aware of "Narrative of the Expedition to Dongola and Sennaar." John Adams was Secretary of State at the time that George Bethune English appears to have served in the U.S. Diplomatic Corps.
Moreover, John Quincy Adams, in a letter of April 2, 1823 as Secretary of State, wrote to George Bethune English -- "Sir, You are hereby authorised to proceed on the voyage suggested in your Letters of the 26th and the 28th ultimo, and for the purpose expressed in them. You will inform me, by Private Letters, of your progress and success; and will communicate, as often as you shall have convenient and safe opportunities, any information, commercial or political, which may come to your knowledge, and which may be interesting to the United States."
Similary, on January 3, 1825, Secretary John Q. Adams, wrote a letter to English marked "Secret" and, among other things, authorizing that English be paid at the rate of $2,000 per year.
- Anonymous1 decade ago
He was some kind of a critic and thinker in the Americas when it was a colony and a fledgling nation. Born 1759, died 1839.
Apparently, they've got some of his work in the form of ebooks, gotten from the Gutenberg site.
- staisilLv 71 decade ago
He was a critic of traditional Christianity and an adventurer. He was an officer in the Marine Corp under President Madison and a U.S. diplomat. He may have been one of the first Americans to visit Egypt.