Charles Petit McIlvaine was an important minister, educator, and writer. He was born in New Jersey in 1799, the son of Joseph McIlvaine, a U.S. senator. Charles received most of his education in eastern schools, graduating from Princeton University. He was ordained an Episcopal priest in 1823, and served in many church related posts in the east, including an appointment as chaplain and professor of ethics at West Point. While in Washington, he also served as chaplain of the U. S. Senate.