December 10: Rev. Samuel Blair, Jr.

The Second U.S. House Chaplain was a Presbyterian

As a matter of fact, the first three chaplains to the United States House of Representatives were all Presbyterian, with the Rev. Samuel Blair, Jr. being number two.

Samuel was born at Faggs Manor, Cochranville, Pennsylvania.  Immediately our readers should recognize the name of Samuel Blair as being related to the New Side pastor and evangelist of that famous church in Chester County, Pennsylvania. Now called Manor Presbyterians, its history goes back to 1730.  It is now a congregation of the Presbyterian Church in America. But Samuel Blair Sr. was one of the leaders of the First Great Awakening in the colonies.  This is his son.

Attending the College of New Jersey (now Princeton), Samuel Blair Jr. graduated with honor at age nineteen.  Staying in the town of Princeton, he tutored for several years.  licensed to preach by the Presbytery of New Castle in 1764, he was called to Old South Church in Boston, Massachusetts in 1766.

In one of those “hard providences” of history, on his way up to Boston, he suffered a shipwreck, being actually cast into the Atlantic Ocean. His lost all of his clothes in that tragedy and all of his sermon manuscripts. This incident greatly depressed him and brought some major health problems to him.

He stayed on as one of the two pastors of Old South until 1769, when due to ill-health, he resigned and moved to Germantown, Pennsylvania, where he planned to devote his remaining years to study. But God wasn’t through with him yet in active service. On December 10, 1790, he was appointed as the second Presbyterian chaplain to the United States House of Representatives in Washington, D.C.  He would stay in that post for two years.

What a fitting close of ministry for a theologian, preacher of the Word, evangelist, and pastor.

Words to live by:  God always gives sufficient grace to those who need it in His work.  We may  have great weakness, but He is ever strong.  We may feel utterly inadequate, but He is all-sufficient.  Believer, trust in His strength always and then push out into His kingdom.  He will provide what you need for your effective ministry to the saints of God, and to say nothing for those who are in need of saving grace.

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  1. Thomas Martin’s avatar

    Actually, it was 1790, not 1770, when he was appointed chaplain

  2. Robert Copeland’s avatar

    I think there must be a typo. The United States House of Representatives did not exist in 1770, so I doubt that Mr. Blair became its chaplain then.

  3. archivist’s avatar

    It was a typo indeed, and 1790 is the correct date, as the good judge notes. I praise God for alert readers who know their history.

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