Jonathan Edwards, a major American theologian and philosopher, was born in East Windsor, CT, on October 5, 1703, of a Congregational minister who educated Edwards until he entered Yale College at age 13. After graduation in 1720, he experienced a religious conversion and decided to enter the ministry. In 1726 he accepted an invitation to be an assistant to his grandfather, Solomon Stoddard, pastor of the Congregational church at Northampton, Massachusetts. When Stoddard died in 1727 Edwards became senior pastor of the congregation. Edwards' preaching was a major factor in the initiation of the Great Awakening of the 1740s. His Treatise on Religious Affections (1746) was a series of sermons dealing with the discrimination between the false and true in the revival.
In 1750, after a bitter controversy, the congregation dismissed Edwards. After his dismissal Edwards served as a missionary to the Indians at Stockbridge in western Massachusetts. In 1757 he became president of the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University). He died in Princeton in 1758.
Jonathan Edwards the Younger, the ninth of the 12 children of Jonathan Edwards, was born in 1745. He graduated from the College of New Jersey in 1765. In 1769 he was ordained to the pastorate of White Haven Congregational Church in New Haven, CT. In 1795 he was dismissed from the White Haven Church. In 1799 he became president of Union College in Schenectady, NY. Edwards died in 1801.