Henry James Sr. is now known mainly as the father of the novelist Henry James and the philosopher William James, but in his own lifetime he was prominent as a writer and speaker in the circles around the Transcendentalists where the heritage of New England Calvinism was transformed into a more optimistic, benevolent and secular Christianity.

The history of the James family in America goes back to the landing of William James, a poor Irish immigrant from County Cavan in 1789. Hard work and good judgement enabled William to move quickly from work as a clerk in a New York store to speculative land purchases in Manhattan and upper New York State, and then into salt manufacture and other commercial interests. His fortunes rose with …

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Citation: Clark, Robert. "Henry James Sr.". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 25 June 2002; last revised 17 December 2004. [https://www.litencyc.com/php/speople.php?rec=true&UID=5084, accessed 30 September 2023.]

5084 Henry James Sr. 1 Historical context notes are intended to give basic and preliminary information on a topic. In some cases they will be expanded into longer entries as the Literary Encyclopedia evolves.

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