Henry Dunster, First President of Harvard College

Among the fascinating people of colonial American Baptist history, Henry Dunster must rank right at the top. A graduate of Cambridge University and an orthodox puritan divine, Dunster was chosen, at the age of 28, to serve as the first president of Harvard College. His scholarship, preaching ability and leadership skills made him the perfect candidate for the position, and he served in it well. But by 1653, Henry Dunster had come to the conclusion, based on careful study of Scripture, that infant baptism was not authorized by the Bible, and he refused to present his infant son for baptism. The ensuing controversy is of great interest, as Dunster was forced to resign his position at Harvard, vacate the house he had recently built, and ultimately relocate in self-exile to situate in the Plymouth Colony. As a result of this event, the First Baptist Church of Boston came into being, and the early history of New England Baptists began.

A website dedicated to Dunster may be found here. Included are links to several biographies of this important but little known figure from our history.

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