To Joshua Seixas

18 August 1836


[Autograph signed letter in Simon Gratz Collection, American Prose, Case 6, Box 3, Historical Society of Pennsylvania.]


Professor Joshua Seixas, a learned Jewish Hebraist and author of A Manual Hebrew Grammar, was brought to Oberlin by John Shipherd in the autumn of 1835 to teach Hebrew. He brought with him all the Hebrew Bibles he could find in New York, and a large supply of his own Hebrew grammars, and his lectures were so popular that soon one hundred and twenty seven people were attending his course. (See R. S. Fletcher, A History of Oberlin College [1943], pp 368-70.) After teaching for about 6 weeks in Oberlin and 6 weeks at Western Reserve College in Hudson Ohio he moved to Kirtland at the end of January where he taught for a time at the Mormon settlement. He was subsequently the chief Hebrew instructor in the Spanish and Portuguese synagogue in New York City, where he died in the early 1870s. (See Leroi C. Snow, "Who was Professor Joshua Seixas?" The Improvement Era (Salt Lake City), Vol. 39, No. 2 (February 1936), pp. 67-71.)


S. C. Leonard recalled: "When Prof. Seixas appeared to give instruction in Hebrew, the fact that opportunity for study of the sacred languages was sufficient to awake such enthusiasm that young and old came together in his classes." (S. C. Leonard, "Oberlin in 1835 as seen by the eyes of a boy" undated Ms in Autograph File, 16/5, #118, Oberlin College Archives.)



Oberlin 18th August 1836

My Dr. Br. Seixas.

It is a principle of action

with me, if I am convinced that I am or have

been in the wrong to confess it, & make what

reparation is in my power. Since I saw you, I have

thought much of the remarks I made & the

spirit I manifested in our hebrew class upon

the subject of your exegetical remarks. Especially

on one occasion. From subsequent reflection I

am pursuaded that my spirit & the warmth

of my remarks were not at all justified by

the occasion; that although I dissented & still

dissent from your views upon that subject,

yet, both the matter & manner of my reply

were wholly unsuited to the time, the place, the

circumstances & the subject. I am the more

grieved for this, because I fear it may be a

stumbling block to you & a lasting injury to

your soul. I pray you ascribe it to any thing

else than to the spirit of the gospel, & forgive the

injury to your feelings, which I inflicted, & pray the

Lord to forgive me also. I ought in justice, as I am

glad to be able, to say, that I am convinced

upon reflection that you had no design to bias

the minds of our young men against the truth.

I shall not fail to do you justice in these respects

before the class, & either shew them this, or mention

the substance of it to them at an early opportunity.

Please present my kindest regards to Mrs. S. & to

your little ones. Shall we ever see you here

again. What are you doing. Will you drop

me a line & let me know whether you

receive this & whether you will forgive me,

Your brother.

C. G. Finney