Author

Clement C. Moore

Clement C. Moore books and biography

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Night Before Christmas


By Clement C. Moore
Children Stories

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Clement Clarke Moore

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Clement Clarke Moore, (July 15, 1779 – July 10, 1863), is best known as the credited author of A Visit From St. Nicholas (more commonly known today as Twas the Night Before Christmas).

Clement C. Moore was more famous in his own day as a professor of Oriental and Greek literature at Columbia College (now Columbia University) and at General Theological Seminary, who compiled a two volume Hebrew dictionary. He was the only son of Benjamin Moore, a president of Columbia College per support from student, Alexander Hamilton and Protestant Episcopal Church for the state of New York. Clement Clarke Moore was a graduate of Columbia College (1798), where he earned both his B.A. and his M.A.. He was made professor of biblical learning in the General Theological Seminary in New York (1821), a post that he held until 1850. The ground on which the seminary now stands was his gift.[1] From 1840 to 1850, he was a board member of The New York Institution for the Blind on 34th Street and 9th Avenue (now The New York Institute for Special Education). He compiled a Hebrew and English Lexicon (1809), and published a collection of poems (1844). Upon his death in 1863, he was interred in the cemetery at St. Luke's Episcopal Church on Hudson St. On November 29, 1899, his body was reinterred in Trinity Churchyard Cemetery. The Moore house "Chelsea", at the time a country estate, gave its name to the surrounding neighborhood of Chelsea, Manhattan.

Much of the neighborhood was once the property of Maj. Thomas Clarke, Clement's maternal grandfather and a retired British veteran of the French and Indian War. Clarke named his house for a hospital in London that served war veterans. 'Chelsea' was later inherited by Thomas Clarke's daughter, Charity Clarke Moore, and ultimately by grandson Clement and his family. Clement Clarke Moore's wife, Catharine Elizabeth Taylor, was of English and Dutch descent being a direct descendant of the Van Courtlandt family of the Hudson Valley region in upstate New York.

Of note: as a girl, Moore's mother, Charity Clarke, wrote letters to her English cousins that are preserved at Columbia University and show her disdain for the policies of the English Monarchy and her growing sense of patriotism in pre-revolutionary days.

The Moore children have several living descendants among them members of the Ogden family. In 1855, one of Clement's daughters, Mary C. Moore Ogden painted 'illuminations' to go with her father's celebrated verse. A book exists with her paintings as illustrations "A Visit from St. Nicholas" (Twas the Night Before Christmas) Copyright @1995 by International Resourcing Services, Inc. 60 Revere Drive, Suite 725 Northbrook, IL 60062

Contents

A Visit From Saint Nicholas

This poem appeared anonymously in the Troy, New York Sentinel on December 23, 1823, and was reprinted frequently thereafter. The original publisher hinted at Moore’s authorship, though without naming him, in 1829, and Moore was first credited as author by Charles Fenno Hoffman, ed. The New-York Book of Poetry. New York: George Dearborn, 1837.

Though Moore's authorship has been questioned, with the alternative author proposed as Henry Livingston Jr., it should be noted that there is no evidence that Livingston himself ever claimed authorship, and also that the evidence used by Donald Foster and others to dispute Moore’s authorship has itself been disputed. (see Nickell, Joe. “The Case of the Christmas Poem.” Manuscripts, Fall 2002, 54;4:293-308, and Part 2.” Manuscripts, Winter 2003, 55;1:5-15. Also see Nissenbaum, Stephen. The Battle for Christmas: A Cultural History of America’s Most Cherished Holiday. New York: Vintage, 1996. And Kaller, Seth T. “The Moore Things Change…,” in the New-York Journal of American History, Fall 2004).

Later in life, Moore is known to have written out four fair copies of the poem. One copy, dated March 24, 1856, exists in the Huntington Library, San Marino, California. (A facsimile of the Huntington copy is at the Harris Collection, John Hay Library, [[Brown University]). Clement Moore wrote out one fair copy in 1862 for the New-York Historical Society, which published a facsimile. The Strong Museum in Rochester, New York, also has an original written in 1853 in Clement Moore's hand. And one, penned in 1860, remains in private hands, owned by Kaller’s America Gallery, Inc.

Slavery

Moore owned five slaves at the time of writing "A Visit from St. Nicholas." He also opposed abolition and the right to vote for landless citizens. See: The Poet of Christmas Eve: A Life of Clement Clarke Moore, 1779-1863, by Samuel W. Patterson (New York: Morehouse-Gorman Co, 1956)

Publications

  • Stedman, An American Anthology (Boston, 1900)

A Visit From Saint Nicholas

Troy, New York Sentinel on December 23, The original publisher hinted at Moore’s authorship, though without naming him, in 1829, and Moore was first credited as author by Charles Fenno Hoffman, ed. The New-York Book of Poetry. New York: George Dearborn, 1837.

Nickell, Joe. “The Case of the Christmas Poem.” Manuscripts, Fall 2002, 54;4:293-308, and Part 2.” Manuscripts, Winter 2003, 55;1:5-15.

Nissenbaum, Stephen. The Battle for Christmas: A Cultural History of America’s Most Cherished Holiday. New York: Vintage, 1996.

Kaller, Seth T. “The Moore Things Change…,” in the New-York Journal of American History, Fall 2004).

References

Rev. John Moore of Newtown, Long Island and some of his Descendants, Compiled by James W. Moore, Lafayette College. Chemical Publishing Company, Easton Pennsylvania. MCMIII. (1903). p. 107. Reprints of this out-of-print book are available via Higginson book company.

  • Foster, Donald (2000). Author Unknown: On the Trail of Anonymous. New York: Henry Holt. ISBN 0-8050-6357-9.
  • Nissenbaum, Stephen (1997). The Battle for Christmas: A Social and Cultural History of Christmas that Shows How It Was Transformed from an Unruly Carnival Season into the Quintessential American Family Holiday. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. ISBN 0-679-41223-9.


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