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The religions of japan by William Elliot Griffis William Elliot Griffis (September 17, 1843 - February 5, 1928) was an American orientalist, Congregational minister, lecturer, and prolific author.Griffis was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of a sea captain and later a coal trader. During the American Civil War, he served two months as a corporal in Company H of the 44th Pennsylvania Militia after Robert E. Lee invaded Pennsylvania in 1863. After the war, he attended Rutgers University at New Brunswick, New Jersey, graduating in 1869.At Rutgers, Griffis was an English and Latin language tutor for Tar¿ Kusakabe, a young samurai from the province of Echizen (part of modern Fukui).After a year of travel in Europe, he studied at the seminary of the Reformed Church in America in New Brunswick (known today as the New Brunswick Theological Seminary).In September 1870 Griffis was invited to Japan by Matsudaira Shungaku, for the purpose of organizing schools along modern lines. In 1871, he was Superintendent of Education in the province of Echizen. In recompense, he was provided with a salary of $2,400, a house in Fukui and a horse.In 1872-74, Griffis taught chemistry and physics at Kaisei Gakk¿ (the forerunner of Tokyo Imperial University). He prepared the New Japan Series of Reading and Spelling Books, 5 vols. (1872).He also published primers for Japanese students of the English language and he and contributed to the Japanese press and to newspapers and magazines in the United States numerous papers of importance on Japanese affairs.Griffis was joined by his sister, Margaret Clark Griffis, who became a teacher at the Tokyo Government Girls' School (later to become the Peeresses' School). By the time they left Japan in 1874, Griffis had befriended many of Japan's future leaders.Griffis was a member of the Asiatic Society of Japan, the Asiatic Society of Korea, the Historical Society of the Imperial University of Tokyo, and the Meirokusha.Returning to the United States, Griffis attended Union Theological Seminary and after finishing his studies in 1877, he was called to the ministry in a series of churches-at the First Reformed Church, Schenectady, New York (1877-1886) at the Shawmut Congregational Church, Boston, Massachusetts (1886-1893) and at the First Congregational Church, Ithaca, New York (1893-1903). Concurrently, at Union College in 1884, he earned a higher degree, Doctor of Divinity (D.D.). Rutgers awarded him an honorary degree, Doctor of Humane Letters (L.H.D.) in 1899.
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