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Samuel Joseph May. Born in Boston, Massachusetts, September 12th, 1797. Died in Syracuse, New York, July 1st, 1871
Syracuse: Syracuse Journal Office, 1871.


Samuel Joseph May (1797-1871), uncle of writer Louisa May Alcott, was a graduate of Harvard College and Cambridge Divinity School. While he spent most of his adult career as a minister in the Unitarian Church, he also held positions in education and was passionate about social reform. Following Divinity School, May was a minister at a church in Brooklyn, Connecticut for fourteen years. In Brooklyn he met Lucretia Flagge Coffin and the two married in 1825. After leaving Brooklyn, May worked briefly as general agent of the Massachusetts Anti Slavery Society and then as principal of the Normal School for Female Teachers in Lexington, Massachusetts. May then accepted the position of minister at the Unitarian Church in Syracuse, New York and remained there until his death following an illness in 1871.

This memorial pamphlet was compiled to offer several epitaphs commemorating Samuel Joseph May's life and accomplishments. The first is an article published in the Daily Standard two days after his death. It provides a detailed overview of May's life and beliefs, focusing on his ministry in the Unitarian church, work with the Massachusetts Anti Slavery Society, and involvement in education administration. It also highlights May's piousness and support of the anti-slavery movement, temperance movement, and women's suffrage. Two series of resolutions follow the newspaper article describing plans for memorializing Mr. May and preparations for the funeral. The final section is an account of the funeral proceedings and eulogy addresses by various ministers, including William Lloyd Garrison and J. W. Loguen, whose narrative appears on Documenting the American South. The work concludes with the graveside benediction.

Monique Prince

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