Jacob Abbott (November 14, 1803 – October 31, 1879) was an American writer of children's books.
Abbott was born at Hallowell, Maine. He graduated from Bowdoin College in 1820; studied at Andover Theological Seminary in 1821, 1822, and 1824; was tutor in 1824-1825, and from 1825 to 1829 was professor of mathematics and natural philosophy at Amherst College; was licensed to preach by the Hampshire Association in 1826; founded the Mount Vernon School for Young Ladies in Boston in 1829, and was principal of it in 1829-1833; was pastor of Eliot Congregational Church (which he founded), at Roxbury, Massachusetts in 1834-1835; and was, with his brothers, a founder, and in 1843-1851 a principal of Abbott's Institute, and in 1845-1848 of the Mount Vernon School for Boys, in New York City.
In describing the character and the action of the personages whose histories form the subjects of this series, the writer makes no attempt to darken the colors in which he depicts their deeds of violence and wrong, or to increase, by indignant denunciations, the obloquy which heroes and conquerors have so often brought upon themselves, in the estimation of mankind, by their ambition, their tyranny, or their desperate and reckless crimes. In fact, it seems desirable to diminish, rather than to increase, the spirit of censoriousness which often leads men so harshly to condemn the errors and sins of others, committed in circumstances of temptation to which they themselves were never exposed. Besides, to denounce or vituperate guilt, in a narrative of the transactions in which it was displayed, has little influence in awakening a healthy sensitiveness in the conscience of the reader. We observe, accordingly, that in the narratives of the sacred Scriptures, such denunciations are seldom found. The story of Absalom's undutifulness and rebellion, of David's adultery and murder, of Herod's tyranny, and all other narratives of crime, are related in a calm, simple, impartial, and forbearing spirit, which leads us to condemn the sins, but not to feel a pharisaical resentment and wrath against the sinner.
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