Samuel John Mills, jr., an American clergyman, born in Torrington, Conn., April 21, 1783, died at sea in June, 1818. His father was a Congregational minister. He entered Williams college in 1806. In September, 1808, a society was formed in the college "to effect, in the persons of its members, a mission or missions to the heathen;" and the first name appended to its constitution was that of Mr. Mills. This was the first foreign missionary organization in America. He graduated in 1809, spent some months at Yale college, and in the spring of 1810 entered Andover theological seminary, where he found others interested in the subject; and on June 28, in connection with Messrs. Judson, Nott, and Newell, he presented a memorial to the general association of Massachusetts, stating their views and wishes, and asking advice. This led directly to the formation of the American board of commissioners for foreign missions. In 1812, soon after he was licensed, he went on a missionary tour to the southwestern states, under the combined patronage of the Connecticut and Massachusetts missionary societies. On this tour he preached arid organized Bible and other religious benevolent societies.
In July, 1814, he made a second tour to the same region, accompanied by the Rev. Daniel Smith. He published an account of these two trips on his return (Andover, 1815). He was ordained June 21, 1815, and passed most of the next two years in Albany, New York, Philadelphia, and Washington. Among the fruits of these two years' labor may be named the establishment of the foreign mission school at Cornwall, Conn., the organization of the American Bible society and of the united foreign missionary society, afterward merged in the American board, the first movement for city missions in New York, the establishment of a school for the education of colored preachers and teachers at Parsippany, N. J., by the synod of New York and New Jersey, and the organization of the American colonization society. Almost immediately after its organization, the colonization society sent Mr. Mills and the Rev. Ebenezer Burgess to Africa, to select a site for a colony. In February, 1818, they embarked at London for the African coast, where they spent two months.
Having fulfilled the object of their mission, they sailed on their return, May 22, 1818, and Mr. Mills died before reaching home. - See "Memoirs of Samuel J. Mills," by the Rev. Gardiner Spring (8vo, New York, 1820).