- Kathryn Mudgett
Parker was born in Lexington, Massachusetts, the son of John and Hannah (Stearns) Parker. His paternal grandfather was Captain John Parker, who commanded the minutemen at the Battle of Lexington. Ordained in 1838, he served as minister to a rural church in West Roxbury, Massachusetts. Parker's 1841 sermon “A Discourse on the Transient and Permanent in Christianity,” in which he challenged the Bible as a source of revelation, set him at odds with orthodox Unitarian thought. In 1845 he was offered the ministry of the newly organized Twenty-eighth Congregational Society of Boston.
Parker's development as an antislavery activist was gradual, beginning with sermons and turning to membership in a vigilance committee, participation in public protest meetings, and, finally, financial assistance for John Brown's 1859 raid on the federal arsenal at Harpers Ferry Virginia Parker did not immediately embrace either the activist or the abolitionist cause ...
A version of this article originally appeared in The Encyclopedia of African American History, 1619–1895.