Born 1830 Died 1894
David Swing was born of Alsatian stock in Cincinnati, Ohio, on the 23rd of August 1830. He spent most of his boyhood on a farm and earned his schooling; graduated at Miami University in 1852; studied theology at Lane Seminary; and was principal of the preparatory school at Miami in 1853-1866. He became pastor in 1866 of the Westminster Presbyterian Church (after 1868 the Fourth Church) in Chicago, which was destroyed in the fire of 1871; he then preached in McVicker's theatre until 1874, when a new building was completed.
In April 1874 he was tried before the presbytery of Chicago on charges of heresy preferred by Dr Francis Landey Patton, who argued that Professor Swing preached that men were saved by works, that he held a modal Trinity, that he did not believe in plenary inspiration, that he unduly countenanced Unitarianism, etc. The presbytery acquitted Dr Swing, who resigned from the presbytery when he learned that the case was to be appealed to the synod. As an action was taken against the church, of which he had remained pastor, he resigned the pastorate, again leased McVicker's theatre (and after 1880 leased Central Music Hall, which was built for the purpose), and in 1875 founded the Central Church, to which many of his former parishioners followed him, and in which he built up a large Sunday school, and established a kindergarten, industrial schools, and other important charities. He died in Chicago on the 3rd of October 1894.
He was an excellent preacher, but no theologian. He published Sermons (1874), including most of his heretical utterances, Truths for Today (2 vols,, 1874-1876), Motives of Life (1879), and Club Essays (1881).
See Joseph F. Newton, David Swing, Poet-Preacher (Chicago, 1909).
Being the entry for SWING, DAVID in the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica, the text of which lies within the public domain.