Famous Unitarians, Universalists, and Unitarian Universalists
Unitarian Universalist history is notable for featuring a number of famous people. The Unitarian minister who brought Unitarianism from England to this country was Joseph Priestley, the scientist who discovered oxygen. His friend Thomas Jefferson was a Unitarian, and so were John Adams and John Hancock, who also signed the Declaration of Independence.
A number of prominent writers and thinkers of the nineteenth century were Unitarian, including Henry David Thoreau, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and his cousin Samuel Longfellow, William Cullen Bryant, Louisa May Alcott, George B Bancroft, Margaret Fuller, and Francis Parkman.
Both Unitarians and Universalists were well represented among prominent abolitionists, supporters of women’s rights, and other leaders for social reform. These included Horace Mann, father of public education; mental health reformer Dorothea Dix; the abolitionists John Quincy Adams, Samuel May, and Julia Ward Howe; and the women’s rights leaders Susan B. Anthony, Olympia Brown, Mary Livermore, and Elizabeth Cady Stanton.1
Among famous modern Unitarian Universalists have been Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas; William Howard Taft, the only person to serve as both President of the United States and Chief Justice of the Supreme Court; civil rights leader Whitney Young; John Haynes Holmes, one of the founders of both the American Civil Liberties Union and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People; poet ee cummings; science fiction writer Rod Serling; architect Frank Lloyd Wright; and Christopher Reeve, first known for his film role as Superman and later as an outspoken advocate for stem cell research.
1 from Welcome: A Unitarian Universalist Primer, edited by Patricia Frevert