Feast of Henry B. Whipple (February 18)   2 comments

Above:  A Former Flag of Minnesota

Image in the Public Domain

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HENRY BENJAMIN WHIPPLE (FEBRUARY 15, 1822-SEPTEMBER 16, 1901)

Episcopal Bishop of Minnesota

Bishop Henry B. Whipple comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via G. Scott Cady and Christopher L. Webber, A Year with American Saints (2006).

Whipple was simultaneously a man of his time and ahead of it.  His paternalistic attitude toward Native Americans was indefensible.  However, our saint was a vocal critic of abuses indigenous people suffered at the hands of civilians and the federal government.  This made him politically unpopular and out of step with many of his fellow whites, especially in Minnesota.

Whipple was a priest and missionary prior to becoming a bishop.  He, born in Adams, New York, on February 15, 1822, was a child of John Hall Whipple (1795-1859) and Elizabeth Wager (1798-1870).  Our saint married Cornelia Wright (1816-1870) on October 5, 1842.  The couple had six children.  Whipple, raised a Presbyterian, became an Episcopal priest in 1848.  He served as the Rector of Zion Episcopal Church, Rome, New York, before transferring to the Episcopal Church of the Holy Communion, Chicago, Illinois, in 1857.  Then, in 1859, at the age of 37 years, Whipple became the first Bishop of Minnesota and the youngest member of the House of Bishops.

During his long episcopate (1859-1901), Whipple accomplished much.  He transformed the fledgling Diocese of Minnesota into a stable see.  Our saint also worked to improve the lives of indigenous people, who suffered from poverty and whom the federal government exploited.  Federal management of Indian Affairs was, in the bishop’s words,

a stupendous piece of wickedness.

Whipple, while presiding over missionary outreach to tribes, stuck his neck out to speak out on their behalf.  In August 1862, white-Native tensions erupted into the U.S.-Dakota War.  The United States Army, having tried and convicted 303 Dakota men, prepared to hang them.  Whipple argued publicly on the condemned men’s behalf and interceded on their behalf with President Abraham Lincoln.  The bishop cast blame onto the federal government for violating treaties and treating indigenous people badly.  He also questioned the legality of the trials and condemned the lack of a proper defense in court.  His appeal to Lincoln was mostly successful; 38 Dakota men hanged and 265 received pardons.

Whipple, simultaneously praised and condemned for his relatively liberal attitude toward Natives, served on various commissions and boards.  These included the Sioux Commission (1876), the Northwest Indian Commission (1887), and the U.S. Board of Indian Commissioners (1895-1901).

Whipple, a widower, remarried on October 22, 1896.  His second wife was Evangeline Marrs (d. 1830).

Whipple, aged 79 years, died in Faribault, Minnesota, his home since 1860, on September 16, 1901.  “Straight Tongue,” as Natives had called him because of his honesty and outspokenness, fell into the silence of death.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

SEPTEMBER 22, 2019 COMMON ERA

PROPER 20:  THE FIFTEENTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST, YEAR C

THE FEAST OF PHILANDER CHASE, EPISCOPAL BISHOP OF OHIO, AND OF ILLINOIS; AND PRESIDING BISHOP

THE FEAST OF C. H. DODD, WELSH CONGREGATIONALIST MINISTER, THEOLOGIAN, AND BIBLICAL SCHOLAR

THE FEAST OF CHARLOTTE WEBB, JULIA ANNE ELLIOTT, AND EMILY ELLIOTT, ANGLICAN HYMN WRITERS

THE FEAST OF JUSTUS FAULKNER, LUTHERAN PASTOR AND HYMN WRITER

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Heavenly Father, Shepherd of your people, we thank you for your servant Henry B. Whipple,

who was faithful in the care and nurture of your flock:

and we pray that, following his example and the teaching of his holy life,

we may by your grace grow into the stature of fullness of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ;

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

Ezekiel 34:11-16

Psalm 23

1 Peter 5:1-4

John 21:15-17

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 718

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2 responses to “Feast of Henry B. Whipple (February 18)

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  1. Pingback: Feast of Enmegahbowh (June 12) | SUNDRY THOUGHTS

  2. What an excellent man! Thank you!

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