Facts and Events
Clement Moore was the author of Twas the Night Before Christmas,' his lgacy to all peoples, which he wrote merely to entertain his own childrenane refused to acknowledge that he was its author, even though the publichad learned to love it. He thought it juvenile. In children'sliterature, it is a masterpiece and is one of the best loved of all our Christmas legens. Clement Moore and his father, Benjamin, were presidents of colleges, oneof King's College and the other of Columbia University to which the name of King's College had been changed by that time. Both were also Rectors of the Trinity Church in New York City. The son, Benjamin, became Bishop of New York. Clement Moore is buried in Trinity Churchyard in New York City.-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Clement Clarke Moore Biography Clement Clarke Moore was born in 1779, the son of Benjamin Moore, an Episcopalian minister and rector of Trinity Church in New York City, and Charity Clarke, a feisty American patriot. From his mother's side of the family, he inherited the farmland that would, during his lifetime, become the Chelsea district. Moore's personal convictions and activities in the budding New York City community show him to have been aware of his responsibilities as a member of the city's wealthiest class. As a landowner, Moore initially resisted the city's encroachment onto his property: he protested in strong language when Ninth Avenue was run through the center of his estate. However, by the 1830's, Moore had realized that development was inevitable, and that as manager of his family property, he had a responsibility to see that it was done properly. He carefully established buildings under lease on his estate and thereby created the Chelsea district. Instead of following his father into the ministry, Moore immersed himself in the study and teaching of ancient languages. His Compendious Lexicon of the Hebrew Language stands as a remarkable achievement and symbol of his commitment to the beginning student of Hebrew to whom it is addressed. He also studied ancient Greek, German, and comparative mythology. He gave imaginative service to his community, personally underwriting the debts of Saint Peter's Church (at an eventual, tremendous loss of $20,000), providing the church with an organ, initiating and teaching for over ten years at a free adult education program, and serving for over thirty years as trustee of Columbia College. He also helped to organize the General Theological Seminary in 1821. Moore had a vibrant domestic life, according to extant archival evidence. He was devoted to his wife, Catherine Elizabeth Taylor; he wrote a letter to his mother during his courtship, in which he laughingly described himself as besottedly carving his fiancée's name on trees. He wrote poetry to Catherine Elizabeth during their courtship and composed a devastating poem of bereavement when his wife died not long after her thirtieth birthday ('To Southey' in Poems). During their marriage, they had nine children, with whom he had caring relationships. When his wife died in 1830, Moore was left with seven children between the ages of three and fifteen. He never remarried, taking on the responsibility of the children's education and upbringing. One of his sons, who was mentally disabled, remained at home under Moore's care throughout his life. Moore often wrote poetry for his children and grandchildren. Clement Clarke Moore was a complex man who lived in a time, place, and culture very different from our own. He was a social conservative and an American patriot convinced of property rights and community responsibility; he was a professor of theology and 'dead' languages, but he also loved music, theater, and writing poetry for his grandchildren; he was critical of superficial pretenses and fashionable behavior, but he firmly believed in tolerance and goodwill. His 1822 Christmas poem embodies some of the complexities of his life and times, but it also has become the basis of our modern-day Christmas rituals. Through Clement Clarke Moore, we celebrate the love, goodwill, humor, and tranquillity of the family at home on Christmas Eve. K09118
For more information, see the EN Wikipedia article Clement Clarke Moore.