"But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,
Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night."
Clement Clarke Moore (1779-1863)
Columbia College 1798
A scholar and poet, Clement Clarke Moore has long been credited with writing “A Visit from St. Nicholas,” the holiday perennial more commonly known as “The Night Before Christmas.” First published in 1823 without attribution, the poem helped change the popular American image of Santa Claus from a stern figure to a jolly one, and influenced the perception of the holiday as an occasion to present children with gifts. Trained to be a minister but never ordained, Moore wrote often for contemporary periodicals such as the New York Evening Post; he also published a number of books, including an anti-Jefferson polemic in 1804 and and 1809’s Hebrew-English Lexicon, which became a reference standard of the time. From 1821 onward he spent 30 years a literature professor at the General Theological Seminary. Moore owned considerable property in the then rural area that became Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood, the name of which is in fact taken from the Moore estate.