Russell Herman Conwell
Russell Herman Conwell was an American Baptist minister, orator, philanthropist, lawyer, and writer. He is best remembered as the founder and first president of Temple University in Philadelphia, as the Pastor of The Baptist Temple, and for his inspirational lecture, "Acres of Diamonds". He was born in South Worthington, Massachusetts.
The son of Massachusetts farmers, Conwell left home to attend the Wilbraham Wesleyan Academy and later Yale University. In 1862, before graduating from Yale, he enlisted in the Union Army during the American Civil War.
During the "Gum Swamp" expedition, he returned to the battlefield to retrieve the bodies of two of his deceased soldiers, and later during the same campaign purposefully drew enemy fire upon his position – resulting in his being shot in the shoulder – in order to gain a tactical advantage on his Confederate adversaries.
After the Civil War, Conwell studied law at the Albany Law School. Over the next several years, he worked as an attorney, journalist, and lecturer first in Minneapolis, then in Boston. Additionally, during this period, he published about 10 books, including campaign biographies of Ulysses S. Grant, Rutherford B. Hayes, and James A. Garfield. In 1880, he was ordained as a Baptist minister and took over a congregation in Lexington, Massachusetts.