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Bennet Tyler

Bennet Tyler (1783-1858) was an American Congregational pastor, theologian and educator. He was born in Middlebury, Connecticut and graduated at Yale in 1804. After studying theology, he was pastor for several years in South Britain, Connecticut, where he knew Asahel Nettleton (1783-1844) intimately. Tyler was instrumental in a revival which saw a transformation in the community and his small congregation of 30 members grow to 120.

In 1822 he was recommended to the trustees of Dartmouth College as successor to the President, Dr Dana, and he served as Dartmouth’s fifth President for 6 years before returning to the pastoral ministry at Second Congregational Church in Portland, Maine in 1828.

Tyler is famous for his polemics against the liberal Nathaniel Taylor and the New Haven theology, a view which countered the Edwardsian and Augustinian view of depravity. This became known as the ‘Tyler-Taylor controversy’. The end result was the constituting of a new seminary in 1833, first called the Theological Institute of Connecticut and later Hartford Theological Seminary. Tyler served as its first President and as Professor of Christian Theology until his death, his long and rich tenure which spanned 25 years leaving an indelible mark. Nettleton was also instrumental in beginning this new institution.

Bennet Tyler died in South Windsor, Connecticut on May 14, 1858, pre-deceasing his wife Esther by just 11 days. His work on the life of Asahel Nettleton is published by the Trust in an edition edited by Andrew A. Bonar, The Life and Labours of Asahel Nettleton.