A Short List of Important Universalists.
I compiled this list a while back when someone asked for a few examples of Universalists in history. Being the obsessive-compulsive collector that I am, I was able to whip up a list in no time flat.
These noteworthy individuals are listed here in roughly chronological order. All are American (USian) unless otherwise noted.
Biogs have been extracted from A Who's Who of UUs : A Concise Biographical Compendium of Prominent and Famous Universalists and Unitarians, http://www.tomfolio.com/bookdetailssu.asp?b=444&m=518
Universalism was an historically heretical Christian belief, later a denomination, which held the doctrine that God is Love and that all will be saved. In 1850 it was the fifth largest denomination in the United States.
The radical foundation of Universalism led many adherents to formulate and adopt other radical and liberal beliefs such as equality for women and African Amercians, the evil of slavery and capital punishment, and other impressive movements of social reform. Since its peak in the 19th century, its primary beliefs have gradually moved into many mainstream Protestant denominations.
Origen of Alexandria (185-254) (OR-ih-jen), Egyptian. theologian, educator, author, scholar; compiled Hexapla and Octapla (first parallel-text bibles); created Origenism (belief that all people will attain heaven, not just a select few); first Christian universalist
Rev. Jacobus Arminius (1560-1609), Dutch. D.D., theologian, scholar; chair of theology University of Leiden 1595-1609; credited as first philosophical universalist since Origen; educated as Calvinist, came to doubt Calvinist doctrines of free will, predestination and grace 1591 and created Arminianism (belief that Christ died for all, not some)
Rev. James Relly (1722-78), Welsh. theologian, author; wrote Union: or a Treatise on the Consanguinity and Affinity between Christ and His Church 1759 (first important modern work on universal salvation, London; reprinted Boston, 1779); credited with converting John Murray; ordained Methodist, defrocked, became Universalist
Rev. John Murray (1741-1815), English-American. religious pioneer, reformer, hymn-writer; 'Father of American Universalism;' credited as first minister to preach Universalism in North America 1770 although others preceded him; appt by George Washington chaplain to Rhode Island Brigade 1775; founding minister Independent Church of Christ 1779 (credited as first avowedly Universalist church, Gloucester MA) and other Universalist congregations; raised Anglican, ordained Methodist, excommunicated, became Universalist—husband of Judith
Judith Sargent Murray (1751-1820), author, poet, playwright, women's rights activist; wrote first American Universalist catechism 1782; wrote On the Equality of the Sexes 1790 (first modern essay on women's rights; predating Mary Wollstonecraft); wrote The Gleaner 1792-94 (essays, 3 vols); Universalist—wife of John
Rev. Caleb Rich (1750-1821), evangelist, organizer; founded first Universalist church in US 1773 (Warwick MA; see John Murray); founded congregations in Richmond NH and Jaffery NH 1780; credited with converting Hosea Ballou I and many others; excluded from Baptist church and became Universalist 1773, ordained by his own congregation 1780
Rev. Hosea Ballou I (1771-1852), author, theologian, anti-trinitarian; wrote Treatise on Atonement 1805 (first American book espousing Universalism, setting out complete Universalist theology, landmark for its era), founding editor 'Universalist Magazine' 1819-28, 'Universalist Expositor' 1830-44 and many other periodicals; credited as greatest theologian of Universalism; raised Baptist, ordained Universalist
Benjamin Rush (1745-1813), M.D., physician, statesman, medical pioneer, signer of Declaration of Independence; professor of medicine and chemistry University of PA 1769-1813; founded PA Society for Promoting the Abolition of Slavery 1774 (first US anti-slavery society); persuaded Thomas Paine to write Common Sense and chose title 1776; wrote Medical Inquiries and Observations 1789-93 (landmark work, 4 vols); drafted Universalist resolution against slavery 1790 (first statement by any US denomination against slavery); helped establish first African church in Philadelphia 1791-93; treasurer US mint 1797-1813; wrote Diseases of the Mind 1812 (first US book on psychiatry); raised Presbyterian, held seats in many churches including Armenian (Methodist) 1780, Episcopal 1788, and Universalist 1790
Rev. Thomas Whittemore (1800-61), editor, historian, financier; founding editor 'Trumpet and Universalist Magazine' 1828-61 (major denominational weekly); legislator MA 1831-36; wrote Plain Guide to Universalism 1838, Life of Rev. Hosea Ballou 1854-55 (4 vols) and other books; helped found Universalist Historical Society 1834
Rev. Charles Spear (1801-63), prison and criminal justice reformer; wrote Essays on the Punishment of Death 1844; helped found Socioety for the Abolition of Capital Punishment 1844; publisher 'Prisoner's Friend' 1846-61 (first prison periodical, devoted to criminal justice, philosophy, and other subjects); Universalist
Rev. Adin Ballou (1803-90), peace activist, reformer; editor 'Independent Messenger' 1831-39; wrote Non-Resistance in Relation to Human Government 1839 and Christian Non-Resistance 1846 (both early works advocating nonviolence, basis of Henry David Thoreau's famous essay which influenced M. K. Gandhi and M. L. King); founded Hopedale Community 1841-68 (utopian, Milford MA); raised Christian Connexion, ordained Universalist
Harriet K. Hunt (1805-75), physician, women's rights advocate, abolitionist, lay preacher; first woman to practice medicine in US c.1834 (without degree; earned honorary M.D. 1853); pioneered holistic treatments combining nursing, diet, bathing, exercise, rest, and sanitation; created preventive health measures for women and children; founded Ladies' Physiological Society 1843; Universalist, later became Swedenborgian
P. T. Barnum (1810-91), impresario, publicist, social activist; helped found Tufts College 1852-54, endowed Barnum Museum Natural History there; legislator CT 1865-69; mayor Bridgeport CT 1875-76; credited with inventing circus parade, press conference, rain check, ringmaster and grandstands; built Madison Square Garden (originally named Barnum's Hippodrome); founded first three-ring circus 1871 ('Greatest Show on Earth,' joined by James Bailey 1881 to become 'Barnum and Bailey'); wrote Why I Am a Universalist 1890 and helped finance translation (first Universalist literature translated into Japanese)
Horace Greeley (1811-72), printer, publisher, journalist, statesman, social reformer; advocated temperance, woman suffrage, abolition and civil rights; founded 'New-Yorker' 1834-40, from it founded NY 'Weekly Tribune' 1840-72; only newspaper editor to print serious, respectful reports on women's rights events such as Seneca Falls (NY) convention 1848; congressman 1848-49; helped found Republican Party 1854 and elect Lincoln 1860; unsuccessful presidential candidate 1872; Universalist
Israel Washburn, Jr. (1813-83), LL.D., statesman, abolitionist, author; congressman ME 1851-61; instrumental in founding Republican Party and credited with choosing party name 1854 (Jackson MI); governor of ME 1861-63; port collector 1863-78 (Portland ME); Universalist
Mary Livermore (1820-1905), suffragist, women's rights advocate, lay preacher; 'Queen of the Platform'; associate editor 'New Covenant' 1858-69 (Universalist periodical, Chicago); as director of Chicago Sanitary Commission 1861-65 organized over 2,000 soldier's aid societies, conducted fairs, raised money for relief work and assigned women to hospital posts as nurses; organized first Women's Sanitary Fair 1863 (raising money for relief work, prototype of many similar fairs); founding president Association for the Advancement of Women 1873; president American Woman Suffrage Assn 1875-78; with Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Julia Ward Howe organized International Women's Rights Congress (Paris, 1876); raised and confirmed Baptist, became Universalist
Clara Barton (1821-1912), nurse, educator, peace activist, women's rights advocate; 'Angel of the Battlefield'; first woman clerk in federal government 1856-58, 1860 (US patent office); organized care for Civil War wounded, donations of food and medical supplies and distribution to battlefields; superintendent of nurses Army of the James 1864; nurse in Franco-Prussian War 1869 (Switzerland); founding director American Red Cross 1881-1904; persuaded US to ratify First Geneva Convention 1882; Universalist
Rev. Thomas Starr King (1824-64), political activist, abolitionist, naturalist; wrote White Hills 1859 (recognizing priceless beauty of Yosemite area); credited with convincing CA to remain part of US at outbreak of Civil War 1860; Mount Starr King in Yosemite National Park named in his honor; statue placed by CA in National Statuary Hall; 'The First UU'; raised and ordained Universalist 1846, dually fellowshipped Unitarian 1848. Famous quote: 'The difference between Unitarians and Universalists is that Universalists believe that God is too good to damn men, and Unitarians believe that Man is too good to be damned.'
Rev. Caroline Soule (1824-1903) (pronounced 'sole'), denominational leader, women's rights advocate, editor, essayist; editorial staff 'Ladies Repository' 1856-65 (Universalist women's magazine); founding editor 'Guiding Star' 1867-78 (denominational Sunday school paper); founding pres Women's Centenary Association 1869-80 (world's first independent group of organized church women); first woman Universalist foreign missionary 1875; as missionary to Scotland 1875, 1878-82, 1886-1903 helped found Scottish Universalist Convention; first woman ordained in Europe 1880 (Glasgow)
Rev. Lydia Ann Jenkins (1824-74), M.D., women's rights advocate, educator; first woman ordained 1858 (fellowshipped by committee of ministers of regional Universalist association, Fairport NY); first woman to hold dual full-time pastorate with husband 1860 (Clinton NY); first woman invited to give commencement address; credited with convincing many that women could be effective preachers; physician and teacher Hygienic Institute 1866-74 (Binghamton NY); raised Baptist, ordained Universalist
Rev. Olympia Brown (1835-1926), women's rights advocate, orator, suffragist; usually credited as first woman ordained 1863 (see Lydia Jenkins); kept own name when married 1873; president WI Woman's Suffrage Assn 1887-1917; publisher Racine (WI) 'Times' 1893-1900; pres Federal Suffrage Assn 1903-20; Universalist
Rev. Augusta Jane Chapin (1836-1905), educator, lecturer, women's rights activist; founding member executive committee Association for the Advancement of Women 1873; first woman member (Universalist) General Convention council of ministers 1870; first woman marriage officiant on west coast 1874 (San Francisco); first woman to receive honorary doctor of divinity 1893 (Lombard College, Galesburg IL); helped organize World Parliament of Religions 1893 (Chicago); raised nominally Congregationalist, became Universalist
Rev. Joseph Fletcher Jordan (1863-1929), educator, attorney; pioneered education by African Americans; third African American Universalist ordained; principal Jordan School 1904-29 (also known as Suffolk Normal Training School, one of VA's first schools for black children; later known as Jordan Neighborhood House); ordained African Methodist Episcopal, became Universalist 1903
Arthur Nash (1870-1927), businessman; as founding pres Nash Company 1916 had profit sharing and employee advisory group; encouraged workers to organize; during massive clothing workers strike 1919 (Cincinnati) had only factory at which workers did not strike; wrote Golden Rule in Business 1923; contributed to strike fund for Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America 1925; Seventh Day Adventist then Universalist