9 Jun


1825: The American Unitarian Association (AUA) founded.

1867: The Free Religious Association (FRA) founded by Francis Ellingwood Abbott (1836-1903). He was a radically liberal Unitarian, asserting that Christianity is no longer tenable.

1868: The National Conference of Unitarian Churches held by Henry W. Bellows (1814-1882). The Broad Church group later organized by Bellows with the support from James Freeman Clarke (1810-1888). Bellows soon gains support from the Western Unitarian Conference (WUC) and others.

1878: Toward the end of 1870s AUA moves its position very close to that of radical Unitarianism.  As a result, Ralph Waldo Emerson comes to be considered to be a representative Unitarian (Tsuchiya 38).

1884: Jabeth Thomas Sunderland (1842-1936) appointed Secretary, WUC.

1885: Fenollosa converts to Buddhism. (For this reason, he was going to embrace the ideal of Buddhistic Unitarianism (Tsuchiya 44), on which stance he backed up the Unitarian mission to Japan.) In this year (?), Sen Katayama moves to Yale Divinity School, where he meets Tokio Yokoi (Tsujii 108).

1886: Sen Katayama living at Alameda, Calif.

belongs to the First Union Church of Alameda through the kind offices of Saichiro Kanda, who later belongs to the (Unitarian) Unity Hall, Shiba, Tokyo (Isao Tsujino 98).

1887: In August, AUA decides to send a mission to Japan. In early September, Arthur May Knapp meets Ichitaro Fukuzawa in Boston and strikes up and maintain friendship with the eldest son of Yukichi Fukuzawa. On 22 December, Arthur May Knapp arrives at Yokohama, Japan with his family. He came to Japan as a “Missionary, A. U. A.” (Narita, Eriotto 55-56); however, his main purpose was during his stay of one year and a half to investigate the possibility of establishing a mission in Japan (Tsuchiya, “Yuniterianshugi” 42). Strong support given to Knapp from Yukichi Fukuzawa, Fumio Yano, Yoshiakira Tokugawa, Fenollosa, Kentaro Kaneko, Kiyoshige Yoshida, Arinori Mori, Jyomin Sano, Rokuichiro Masujima and so forth (Tsuchiya, Yuniterian 75-77). [Whereas Unitarianism was dangeriously liberal in the US, it was not the case in Japan.]

1888: Knapp’s address described as “Tokyo, Japan (Missionary of A. U. A.)” in the Unitarian Year-Book for 1888, which description continues through the 1890 edition of the Year-Book.

1889: In July Fenollosa sends his letter to AUA, detailing the reason why Knapp has received enthusiastic welcome from high-ranking government officials. (The Prime Minister Hirobumi Ito’s entourage including Mori, Yoshida and Kaneko were resolute supporters of the Unitarian mission to Japan and of Knapp (Tsuchiya 74-76).) When Knapp re-visits Japan in this year, he accompanies Clay MacCauley (1843-1925) with him. (As a young man MacCauley used to be a member of FRC but later turned to be sufficiently conservative to stay in the organization of  AUA.

1890: In his lecture in Boston, Mass., Kentaro Kaneko requests the Americans to dispatch the Unitarian mission to Japan. The Imperial Rescript on Education issued on 30 October. MacCauley’s address described as “Tokyo, Japan (Missionary of A. U. A.)”  in the Unitarian Year-Book for 1890, which description continues through the 1899 edition of the Year-Book. The Japanese Unitarian Association was founded in this year. “By the following year, Clay MacCauley had succeded Knapp, and there was one organized church and three other meetings. There were also four other outposts in different parts of teh country. A school for training ministers, the School of Liberal Theology, was also founded” (Harris 274).

1894: Unity Hall, the headquarters for the mission and the school was dedicated. The church had between 150 and 200 members at this time. FRC and AUA are reconciled with each other. [Sino-Japanese war erupts on 1 August (-17 April 1895).]

1898: Knapp’s address described as “Tokio, Japan” (Unitarian Year-Book), which description continues through the 1908 edition of the Year-Book. In the 1909 edition, the address described as “42B Bluff, Japan”; in the 1910 edition through the 1912 edition, as “44 Clark Road, Brookline, Mass”; in the 1913 edition through the 1915 edition, as “72 Perkins Street, West Newton, Mass”; in the 1916 edition through the 1919 edition, as “25 Beacon Street, Boston, Mass”; in the 1920 edition, no description appears about Knapp. Shusui Kotoku writes an article “Causes of Social Corruption and the Way to Remedy it” (Yorozu-choho, 18-19 November); Tomoyoshi Murai and Sen Katayama, evaluting the article, persuade him to join the Socialism Research Society of the Unity Hall (Tsujino 117).

1900: Fukuzawa requests Knapp to recommend three American Unitarian scholars as faculty members of his college consisting of departments of law, finance and literature. Samuel A. Eliot (son of Charles W. Eliot, president of Harvard) is elected President, the American Unitarian Association (AUA). “In 1900 the board agreed to reorganize the administration so that the president of the board (not the secretary) would become the chief executive of the association” (Harris 163). Around 1900, Japan’s Unitarian Association abolished presidency and shifted to adopt the parliamentary system in which the committee consisted of Saji, Kanda, Abe, Kishimoto and Murai. [The Public Order Police Law promulgated.]

1900: “MacCauley stayed in Japan until 1900… the mission suffered from financial cutbacks, and was effectively ended  after he left” (Harris 275).

1901:  Knapp’s address described as “67 Bluff, Yokohama, Japan” (Unitarian Year-Book), which description continues through the 1890 edition of the Year-Book.

1902: On 30 January, the Anglo-Japanese Alliance signed in London.

1903:  In late March Thomas Lamb Eliot arrives at Yokohama, Japan (returning to Portland, Oregon in late May). In this year Jitsunen Kanda feared that the Doshisha-group might threaten the Unitarian Association’s governance. Kanda shifts the parliamentary system back to presidential government. He first makes Saji President and himself Vice-President and then maneuvers Saji into persuading Abe to leave the Association, thus successfully expelling any Doshisha-influence. While Thomas stays in Japan, Kanda goes so far as to ask him in secrecy so that Abe dissociate himself from his involvement in socialism. Kanda said to Thomas, “Say something to Abe since he pokes his head into socialism too much” (Iguchi 152). In June, a law scholar Hiroto Mito of Tokyo Imperial University led the way to advocacy for war against Russia while Abe confronted war-advocacy by asserting pacifism (Iguchi 135). Mito should have been fully aware that this new year (1903) opened with jingoing prevalent.

1904: The Russo-Japanese war breaks out on 8 February (-5 September 1905).

1909: “Although MacCauley returned to Japan from 1909 to 1920, the mission suffered from financial cutbacks, and was effectively ended  after he left” (Harris 275).

1910: [The High Treason Incident.]

*Memo: There was ambituity or even enmity between Jitsunen Kaneko and Saichiro Kanda especially after Kanda’s return from his participation in the AUA meeting.


  • Harris, Mark W. Historical Dictionary of Unitarian Universalism. Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow, 2004.
  • Memorial of the Dedication of Yuiitzukwan, Tokyo, Japan, March 25th, 1894.
  • Morris, Carol Ruth. Frederick May Eliot, President of the American Unitarian Association (1937-1958). Dissertation, Boston University, 1970.
  • Narita, Tatsushi. “T. S. Eriotto to Nyu-ingurando-bunka-shiso” (“T. S. Eliot and New England Cultural Thought”), Journal of Humanities and Social Sciences (Nagoya City University, Nagoya, Japan), 3 (1997), 55-72.
  • ——. T. S. Eliot, the World Fair of St. Louis and “Autonomy.” Nagoya: Kougaku Shuppan, 2013.
  • Tsuchiya, Masanobu. Yuniterian to Fukuzawa Yukichi (“Unitarians and Yukichi Fukuzawa“). Keio University Press, 2004.
  • Tsujino, Isao. Meiji Shakaishugi-shiron. Kyoto: Horitsubunkasha, 1978.

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