Douglas Clyde Macintosh

Douglas Clyde Macintosh
Born(1877-02-18)18 February 1877
Breadalbane, Ontario, Canada
Died6 June 1948(1948-06-06) (aged 71)
  • Emily Pouell
    (m. 1921; died 1922)
  • Hope Griswold Conklin (m. 1925)
Ecclesiastical career
ReligionChristianity (Baptist)
ChurchBaptist Union of Western Canada[1]
Academic background
Alma mater
ThesisThe Reaction Against Metaphysics in Theology[1] (1909)
Academic work
Sub-disciplineSystematic theology
School or tradition
Doctoral students
Notable studentsReinhold Niebuhr[9]
InfluencedJames William McClendon Jr.[10]

Douglas Clyde Macintosh (1877–1948) was a Canadian theologian.


Macintosh was born in Breadalbane, Ontario, on 18 February 1877 and received his undergraduate degree from McMaster University when it was in Toronto.[11] In 1907 was ordained a Baptist minister and taught at Brandon College in Manitoba.[12] In 1909 Macintosh received his Doctor of Philosophy degree from the University of Chicago and joined Yale Divinity School, becoming an assistant professor of systematic theology.[13]

During the First World War he volunteered for the Canadian Army and served at the front as a military chaplain.[13] He further oversaw an American YMCA hut in France until the armistice.[13] In 1916 he was named the Dwight Professor of Theology and later served as the chairman of the Yale Religion Department from 1920 to 1938.

In 1921, he married Emily Pouell, who died in childbirth the following year.[14] He subsequently married Hope Griswold Conklin in 1925, with whom he did not have children.[15]

Macintosh is also notable for a 1931 Supreme Court of the United States case.[16][17][18] In 1925 Macintosh petitioned to become a naturalized US citizen. At a hearing before the US District Court for the District of Connecticut Macintosh explained that the moral principles of Christianity would allow him to take the Oath of Allegiance with the understanding that he was only swearing to take up arms in what he believed was a just war.[13] The district court refused to grant Macintosh citizenship. This rejection was then reversed by Judge Thomas Walter Swan, a former Yale Law School Dean, on the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.[19] The government appealed, and before the Supreme Court the US Solicitor General Thomas D. Thacher, a Bonesman, appeared, while Macintosh was represented by Charles Edward Clark, a future Yale Law School Dean.[13]

The sharply divided court rejected Macintosh's petition for citizenship.[20] Writing for the court, Justice George Sutherland, joined by the other Four Horsemen, found that "We are a Christian people" but that "unqualified allegiance to the Nation and submission and obedience to the laws of the land, as well those made for war as those made for peace, are not inconsistent with the will of God."[13]

Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes dissented, joined by Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., Justice Louis Brandeis, and then Justice Harlan F. Stone. The dissenters traced Congress's long "happy tradition" of respecting conscientious objectors and wrote "The essence of religion is belief in a relation to God involving duties superior to those arising from any human relation."[13]

A decade and a half later the Supreme Court would overturn itself, ruling 5–3 against the "arms-bearing pledge" in Girouard v. United States (1946).[21] Macintosh alongside Henry Nelson Wieman, George Burman Foster, and Shailer Mathews is considered a shaper of "modernistic liberalism".

The First World War chaplain's chalice of former Yale University Dwight Professor of Theology Douglas Clyde Macintosh was given to the Yale Law School and accepted by Dean Harold Koh in September 2008 to honour the famous 1931 Supreme Court case, Macintosh v. United States, in which John W. Davis argued Macintosh's right to "selective conscientious objection" in Macintosh's application as a Canadian for US citizenship.[22]

Macintosh's three-quarter-length portrait hangs in the common room of Yale Divinity School. It depicts him with his right hand toward a Bible opened to the commandment "Thou shalt have no other gods before me" and his left hand extended toward a bound volume of United States v. Macintosh, 1931. The portrait was painted in 1979 by New Haven artist Clarence Brodeur, past President of the Board of Trustees of the Fontainebleau Association, and editor the Fontainebleau School Alumni Bulletin.


See also[edit]



  1. ^ a b Dorrien 2003, p. 241.
  2. ^ a b Dorrien 2003, p. 242.
  3. ^ Dorrien 2003, p. 179.
  4. ^ Heim 1983, p. 250.
  5. ^ Heim 1983, p. 249.
  6. ^ Grima 1976, p. 4; Heim 1983, p. 237.
  7. ^ Hall 2003, p. 223; Heim 1983, p. 237.
  8. ^ Mills 2002, p. 109.
  9. ^ Hartt, Julian N. (23 March 1986). "Reinhold Neibuhr: Conscience of the Liberals". The Washington Post. Retrieved 4 February 2019.
  10. ^ Boersma 2017, p. 85.
  11. ^ Flowers 2000; Hall 2003, p. 222.
  12. ^ Thomson, Jane; Smalley, Martha Lund (2015). "Guide to the Douglas Clyde Macintosh Papers". Yale University Library. New Haven, Connecticut: Yale University. hdl:10079/fa/divinity.050. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  13. ^ a b c d e f g United States v. Macintosh, 283 U.S. 605 (1931).
  14. ^ Hall 2003, p. 223; Mislin 2016.
  15. ^ Hall 2003, p. 223.
  16. ^ "Question of Conscience". Time. 25 January 1932. Archived from the original on 30 January 2011. Retrieved 3 February 2019.
  17. ^ "Court Denies Citizenship to Dr. MacIntosh". The New York Times. 10 January 1930.
  18. ^ "Citizenship Denied to Arms Objectors". The New York Times. 26 May 1931.
  19. ^ 42 F.2d 845 (2d Cir. 1930).
  20. ^ Freund 1931.
  21. ^ Walz, Jay (23 April 1946). "New Citizen Freed of Oath to Fight". The New York Times. pp. 1, 18. Retrieved 3 February 2019.
  22. ^ "Symbolic Chalice on Display in Alumni Reading Room". Yale Law School. New Haven, Connecticut: Yale University. Retrieved 3 February 2019.


Boersma, Spencer Miles (2017). The Baptist Vision: Narrative Theology and Baptist Identity in the Thought of James Wm. McClendon, Jr (ThD thesis). Toronto: University of Toronto. hdl:1807/77635.
Dorrien, Gary (2003). The Making of American Liberal Theology: Idealism, Realism, and Modernity, 1900–1950. Louisville, Kentucky: Westminster John Knox Press. ISBN 978-0-664-22355-7.
Flowers, Ronald B. (2000). "The Naturalization of Douglas Clyde Macintosh, Alien Theologian" (PDF). Journal of Supreme Court History. 25 (3): 243–270. doi:10.1111/1059-4329.00011. ISSN 1540-5818. Retrieved 3 February 2019.
Freund, Ernst (1931). "United States vs. Macintosh: A Symposium; III". Illinois Law Review. 26 (4): 384–385. Retrieved 3 February 2019.
Grima, George (1976). "Christ and Conversion: H. Richard Niebuhr's Thought Between 1933 and 1937". Melita Theologica. 28 (1–2): 1–29. Retrieved 4 February 2019.
Hall, Timothy L. (2003). American Religious Leaders. New York: Facts on File. ISBN 978-0-8160-4534-1.
Heim, S. Mark (1983). "The Path of a Liberal Pilgrim: A Theological Biography of Douglas Clyde Macintosh". American Baptist Quarterly. 2 (3): 236–255. ISSN 0745-3698.
Mills, William Douglas (2002). "We Are the Church": The Romanization of United Methodism, 1945–1988 (PhD thesis). Lubbock, Texas: Texas Tech University. hdl:2346/10556.
Mislin, David (2016). "Macintosh, Douglas Clyde". In Kurian, George Thomas; Lamport, Mark A. (eds.). Encyclopedia of Christianity in the United States. 3. Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield. p. 1393. ISBN 978-1-4422-4432-0.

Further reading[edit]

Grubbs, Gayle Gudger (1996). Irony, Innocence, and Myth: Douglas C. Macintosh's Untraditional Orthodoxy (PhD dissertation). Houston, Texas: Rice University. hdl:1911/17004.
Warren, Preston (1989). Out of the Wilderness: Douglas Clyde Macintosh's Journeys Through the Grounds and Claims of Modern Thought. New York: Peter Lang. ISBN 978-0-8204-0777-7.