Russell Herman Conwell was an American Baptist clergyman, orator, philanthropist, novelist, lawyer, and writer who lived from February 15, 1843, to December 6, 1925. His most notable accomplishments include founding and serving as the first president of Temple University in Philadelphia, serving as the pastor of The Baptist Temple, and giving the motivational speech ""Acres of Diamonds."" In South Worthington, Massachusetts, he was born. Before earning his Yale degree in 1862, he enrolled in the Union Army for the American Civil War. Son of Massachusetts farmers, he left home to enroll at Yale University and then Wilbraham Wesleyan Academy. He returned to the battlefield during the ""Gum Swamp"" mission to rescue the remains of two of his fallen comrades. Later, he deliberately attracted enemy fire into his position, which led to his being shot in the shoulder, in order to gain a tactical advantage. The bravery shown by his devoted aide John H. Ring helped the atheist Conwell turn to Christianity while he was healing from this injury. After receiving his Baptist ministry ordination in 1880, he assumed leadership of a church in Lexington, Massachusetts. He wrote ten volumes in total, including the histories of James A. Garfield, Rutherford B. Hayes, and Ulysses S. Grant's presidential campaigns.
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