Thomas Starr King (1824-1864) was both a Universalist and Unitarian minister. This impassioned abolitionist was an influential lecturer whose role in preserving California for the Union during the Civil War is honored by statues in the United States Capitol and in Golden Gate Park in California. Two mountains are named for him, one in New Hampshire’s White Hills, another in the Sierra Nevada of California. He was barely five feet tall but he influenced the course of history on both coasts. His portrait is near the desk that belonged to him, which stands in the corner of the room. He carried this desk when he traveled to California in 1850s and it was brought back to Boston after Starr King died in California at age 39. The UU divinity school in Berkeley is named after him.
“Patriotism is unselfish devotion to the idea of a nation, its heaven-inspired soul, its representative office and mission. And anything lower than this form of it here, any interpretation of it equivalent to a defense of every act of every administration, even when that act does violence to the spirit of our history and to providential pointings of our call, is a disgrace to ourselves, an abuse to a noble word, and an offense before God. If a country such as ours is to raise no loftier, no more heroic type of national virtue than that, …then we may say, here is America, but where are the Americans?” —King