William Dwight Porter Bliss

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William Dwight Porter Bliss[1] (August 20, 1856 - October 8, 1926) was an Episcopalian minister,[2] author, activist, and radical proponent of the Social Gospel[3] and a Christian socialist.[4]

His publications include The Dawn and the Encyclopedia of Social Reform.[5]

Early life

W. D. P. Bliss was born in 1856, in Constantinople, Turkey, the son of Rev Edwin Elisha Bliss, D.D. an American missionary. He studied in Robert College, Constantinople; Phillips Academy, Andover, Massachusetts; Amherst College, 1874–78; Hartford Theological Seminary, 1878-82. He was settled over the Fourth Congregational Church, Denver, Colorado, but on account of failing health, he soon returned to the East, and was settled at South Natick, Massachusetts. He was married in London to Mary Pangalo in 1884.

Interest in Socialism

In 1885 he became interested in socialism through seeing the workmen in factory villages and reading Henry George and the Christian Union. In 1886 he entered the Episcopal Church and took charge of St George's Church, Lee Massachusetts. Here he joined the Knights of Labor; was Master Workman of the Assembly at Lee; and in 1887 sent to Cincinnati as delegate from the Knights of Labor, being one of the secretaries of the Union Labor Convention. The same year he helped start with Father Huntington, in New York City, the Church Association for the Advancement of the Interests of Labor (CAIL). In 1888 he took charge of Grace Church, South Boston. He was nominated for Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts by the Labor Party, but declined the nomination.

The Society of Christian Socialists

In 1889 Bliss organized what was the first Christian Socialist organization in America.[6] The pamphlet What is Christian socialism? was their society's manifesto.


He also started The Dawn and published it until 1896. Resigning his parish in South Boston in 1890 he formed the Mission and Brotherhood of the Carpenter, which was kept up till 1896, when Mr. Bliss left Boston. In 1895 he commenced editing The American Fabian. He has done much lecturing for the Society of Christian Socialists, the Christian Social Union, and other organizations. He is the author of numerous tracts, mainly on Christian socialism. He is also editor of the (American) Social Science Library, author of the Handbook of Socialism (1895) and editor of The Encyclopedia of Social Reform.

Later life

During World War I, Bliss spent time in Switzerland working for the YMCA.[5] After the war ended, he returned to New York City and preached there until he died on October 8, 1926.[7]


Together with Richard Theodore Ely, Bliss is recognized by the Episcopal Church with a day on the liturgical calendar, October 8.[8][9][10]


No Socialism can be successful unless rooted and grounded in Christ, the Liberator, the Unifier, the Head of Humanity.

A Handbook of Socialism, Preface, page 1


See also