Andrews Norton (December 31, 1786 – September 18, 1853) was an American preacher and theologian. Along with William Ellery Channing, he was the leader of mainstream Unitarianism of the early and middle 19th century. He was the father of the writer Charles Eliot Norton.


In his early career, Andrews Norton helped to establish liberal Unitarianism in New England, and stridently opposed harshly conservative Calvinism and Trinitarianism. Nevertheless, later in life, he became the chief conservative Unitarian opponent of Transcendentalism. As a vocal and well-published theologian, he earned from some the joking title of "the Unitarian Pope".

He was born in Hingham, Massachusetts, son of Samuel Norton. Norton graduated from Harvard University in 1804 and continued as a graduate student and lecturer there and at Bowdoin College. He was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1815.[1] In 1819, Harvard made him Dexter Professor of Sacred Literature, a position he held until 1830; he also served as Harvard College Librarian from 1813 to 1821.[2]

Andrews Norton attacks Transcendentalism in a caricature by Christopher Pearse Cranch, ca. 1836-1838

Norton engaged in vigorous debates with George Ripley in 1836 and Ralph Waldo Emerson in 1838 (over Emerson's Divinity School Address). He opposed himself to the rise of Transcendentalism and insisted on the truth of some of the Biblical miracles, while rejecting "most of those in the Old Testament, and a few in the new", including rejecting the virgin birth.[3] In rejecting the virgin birth he went beyond William Ellery Channing.[4]


  1. ^ "Book of Members, 1780–2010: Chapter N" (PDF). American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Retrieved September 9, 2016. 
  2. ^ Alfred Claghorn Potter, Charles Knowles Bolton (1897), The Librarians of Harvard College 1667-1877, Cambridge, Mass: Library of Harvard University 
  3. ^ The Oxford Handbook of Transcendentalism Joel Myerson, Sandra Harbert Petrulionis, Laura Dassow Walls p.53
  4. ^ John White Chadwick William Ellery Channing 1903 p440

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